Just when you thought you’d flung every last one of them, along comes a new twist and you find yourself dragged right back in. With Angry Birds Star Wars Rovio’s fowl-flinging phenomenon goes big, returning the franchise to home consoles with one of the best and most inventive entries yet. But with the sequel already heating up the mobile scene, the only question is whether you’ll want to take a step back in time while paying considerably for the privilege.
And just as with last year’s Angry Birds Trilogy, opting to bring the slingshot action to your big screen will cost you dearly, especially if a home (or portable) gaming console is the only way to get your bird on.
For those unfamiliar with the Star Wars-themed Birds, the basic elements of slingshotting your characters across landscapes to eliminate every last pig remain. Only here you’ll be flinging a host of familiar faces, albeit ones in bird-form. Luke Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi, Han Solo, the Droids R2-D2 and C-3P0 are all here, as are their “Pork Side” equivalents Darth Vader and tons of Storm Troopers.
Each character brings a unique power to the mix, from Luke’s lightsaber slash to Obi-wan’s Force push to Han’s laser gun zap (he definitely shoots first here). These small additions have a big impact on how levels can be completed, sprucing up what might have been straightforward objectives into something with more grandeur. Having Princess Lei Force Tug the legs out from a giant AT-AT Imperial Walker is pretty awesome, as is using a small moon’s gravitational field to fling, rebound, and then bash through walls of pigs. And don’t get me started on Chewbacca…I love it.
Angry Birds is a franchise built around and one designed to take advantage of touchscreen play, and while such a thing is absent on most of these console iterations a few make do with the toys they have available. Xbox 360 users get Kinect play while PlayStation 3 fans can finally dust off their Move sticks once again. With their tablet-style screens the Wii U, 3DS and Vita versions all fair the best, but even those rocking standard analog controllers shouldn’t have too many issues learning to adjust with touch controls smartly mapped to positional directions once your bird has launched.
The only real exception, for many reasons, is how shaky the game feels on the regular Wii. The Wii Remote adds true cursor+motion gameplay, but those with trembling hands may find trying to make perfect shots more difficult than need be. That, coupled with some of the muddiest and most low-resolution visuals I’ve ever seen on the console make the regular Wii version the only one you should readily avoid.
As for the new “cooperative” modes, I wouldn’t even bother as they’re anything but. This isn’t a franchise built on or around multiplayer gameplay and you probably shouldn’t expect a lazy port to be the place where they’d start adding the feature. Co-op play here means each player taking turns (hence, easily played with a single remote) or competing with others for the highest score in a given level.
There’s no getting past this version’s biggest hurdle: the price. While I submit not everyone has access to the multitude of smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, or media players that can easily play the original game, there’s really no excuse for such a barebones retail release. Even with the touted “never seen before” levels it’s hard to justify its original $39 price (which, if you’re keeping track, is a whopping 40X price increase over the original game’s $.99 impulse-friendly buy).
If you’re willing to stick with original mobile versions the cost of this retail edition could net you BOTH Angry Birds Star Wars games and still leave you enough change for dinner and a movie (and probably for two if you’re a cheap date). Heck, they could’ve thrown in the excellent Bad Piggies spin-off and the disc’s value would have at least tripled. Ultimately, its your money and how you choose to spend it is your business – though I’d personally wait until a drastic bargain-bin price drop before plunking down the cash.
Even with the added cost of releasing it on disc, Angry Birds Star Wars is still one of the best, most playable, and inventive games in the franchise yet. While I’d skip the shockingly ugly and shaky (original) Wii version if possible, other editions are passable and quite playable, even with stock controllers. I just wish Activision had added more value to the disc, especially considering that mobile fans already have the sequel to play with, especially with the excellent sequel already out and about. I guess that might be asking too much, though.
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