Review: Angry Birds Star Wars (Playstation 3)

coverAngry Birds Star Wars
Developer: Exient/Rovio
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Puzzle
Released: 10/29/13

I think it’s safe to say that Angry Birds has had an impact on popular culture. Other games like Candy Crush, have overtaken Rovio’s creations in the hearts and minds of commuters everywhere but for a little while there it was all birds all the time. But where mobile phones and iPad’s have already been inundated with Birds and Pigs and their continuing war for dominance, the consoles haven’t been impacted quite as much. This is partly because the console beachhead is a much more difficult foothold to establish and partly because they haven’t over-saturated the market like they have mobile.

Anyway. Angry Birds Star Wars is a $40 port of a year old game you can get for free on most mobile devices right now. Still here? OK. Well the console port does go out of it’s way to try and justify the purchase price. Let’s see if the developers were successful.

2The basic game has evolved slightly from the basic Angry Birds concept to take advantage of the move to the Star Wars universe by giving the various birds different powers. Where before there were Red, Black, Yellow with different abilities, we now have a Red Bird that acts and looks like Luke Skywalker. Yellow is now Han Solo, Black is now Obi Wan. Some liberties have been taken, I don’t recognize who Chewbacca is evolved from but it doesn’t matter. Each character either has a weapon like Han’s blaster or eventually Luke’s lightsaber, and the puzzles are designed to take advantage of these skills, just like previous Birds games.

The levels have evolved too. Taking some of the concepts from Angry Birds Space, some of the puzzles take place in space and have you flinging your birds around and through different gravity wells to strike their targets. Other levels use air vents to allow you to direct your birds all over the map. Some parts of the levels are even ray shielded to stop characters like Han and Lando from being too effective with their blasters. Figuring out what each level requires from you has always been the addictive part of Angry Birds, and this one is no exception. If it gets too hard you can call in air support from the Millennium Falcon, which sadly does not look like a falcon. Air support is a special you unlock with how many stars you earn, and you hate to use them, but sometimes a level just annoys you to the point of no return.

1The camera is awkward at best. A typical level will open with a look at the target area, and then pan over towards where your birds will be fired from. This pan almost always takes the target area out of the viewing area, forcing you to remember as best you can where it is you are trying to send your bird. The game does allow you to zoom out and switch between the two views, but I found no option to just leave the camera on the angle I wanted. Every new level meant zooming back out.

There is music in the game. It’s a mix of the familiar Star Wars themes and Angry Birds themes, and I think it’s pretty good, but I am glad it’s kept short. Sound effects too are a mix of both worlds. Darth Vader for example sounds like a pig wearing Darth Vader’s helmet.

The story of the game generally follows that of the original trilogy of movies, but calling it a story is stretching things a little bit. Basically the plot is there to change the backgrounds and give us new puzzles. The console version includes numerous areas, including Tatooine, the Death Star, Hoth, Dagobah, Cloud City and an area for levels exclusive to the game.

4Including all of those levels didn’t feel like enough apparently, because after they did that the developers then went and added Move support to the game. The game probably plays better with the Move than it does with regular controls, as the skills some of the characters possess can force you to aim quickly and the analog stick can be a little slower than I might like. Either way it’s not as smooth as the touch screen on your iPhone or Android, but even without the Move the controls are at worst acceptable.

Once the developers got finished with adding Motion controls they still weren’t satisfied, and so they decided to throw in a little multiplayer action. Now I’m guessing you’re asking yourself “Multiplayer? In MY Angry Birds?” Well lets not get ahead of ourselves. I’m not talking online deathmatches or some such nonsense. Instead the developers added two gameplay modes. The first is co-operative, which is the core game but with two players taking turns controlling where the birds get flung. It’s mainly there to test your friendship, I think, as seeing a bird miss the intended target and having to repeat the level because your supposed friend messed up the shot is not for the fair weather friendship.

3The other mode on the other hand is very friendship friendly. It’s competitive and bears a strong resemblance to the Worms series of games. Up to 4 players can compete to see who can get the highest score on the level. Each person has their own version of the board to play on, so it’s not exactly like Worms, but instantly seeing your 3 friends miss that Pig that you were able to kill on the first go could be pretty interesting. Sadly the loading time between each player is just a little too noticeable for my liking, but if you are passing the joystick around instead of playing with four controllers it probably wouldn’t be too bad.

Short Attention Span Summary:
While I like the short time it takes to reload the levels in single player, and it’s clear that the developers at least tried to make the game feel at home on the big screen, I can’t look past the price difference. It feels like gouging. If you can find a place that still rents games and enjoy your Angry Birds this one will certainly fill the need, but otherwise I cannot recommend it.

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