Angry Birds Space Review
How do you teach an old bird new tricks? If you're Rovio, you send it to space.
That's exactly what the Finnish developer did with the aptly titled "Angry Birds Space", the sequel to their psychotically successful Angry Birds. Three and a half years is a long time in the tech and gaming industry, but it's been that long since our favorite antagonized ornithological creatures took back what was properly theirs from the pesky green pigs. Rovio hasn't missed an opportunity to keep ourselves invested in their franchise, releasing new updates and levels for their game at regular intervals.
Then there's, of course, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rovio, and all the other various games released on countless platforms (some better than others) since December 2009. But it's always been the same gameplay, the same general style, the same game. And that's drawn the ire of many gamers who are just simply sick of hearing about these birds and their damned pig enemies.
Needless to say, if Rovio was going to continue to capitalize on the ridiculous success of their franchise, they were going to have to try something different. With Angry Birds, they not only try something wildly different from what we've come to know about the franchise, but they actually pull it off almost perfectly, all while keeping that same Angry Birds feel that endeared us to the game in the first place.
You still command a fleet (flock?) of birds, and you still chuck them at evil green pigs that apparently stole their eggs. But just about every bird has a new or modified power, and the adjustments made to accommodate gravity (or lack thereof) in their setting gives the game a whole new dimension.
As the preview Rovio released in conjunction with NASA showed us earlier this month, in space, there's obviously no gravity, and that's important to the game. You're launching birds in space, and so long as they don't hit any sort of gravitational field, they're going to continue on a straight path. Conversely, the game will throw in asteroids, planets and other objects with their own gravity in order to modify the gameplay. As is the case in real space, some planets have stronger gravitational fields than others, and that's reflected as you play the game. That means, in order to get to the pigs, you might have to through two, three, or even more different kinds of gravity that alter your trajectory.
Different kinds of structures, from wood to brick, rock, etc are back, but how the birds interact with them is different. Obviously in space these objects will float, and if they enter into an atmosphere they'll get pushed to the surface quickly. You have your regular bird, your giant bird, the tiny bird that splits in three, as well as the exploder, but the two birds that are very different are the bird that freezes whatever it hits, as well as the bird who's trajectory can be altered no matter where they are on the board.
Together, it makes for a very interesting game, but the best part has to be the boss battles. They mostly require you to toss other items such as rocks and pellets into a pig robot, but it works well and is a huge change of pace from the rest of the levels.
The only real complaint I have with the game is the controls. They just don't feel as tight as previous games and I found my trajectory changed way too often when I let go of the screen / catapult, and in a game where a slight difference could be the difference between beating and failing a level, that's not good. It seems like the game was developed with the iPad in mind first and foremost, but that's kind of normal with iOS games these days. It's not a huge nuisance, but it could be annoying if you have big fat fingers like I do. There shouldn't really be an excuse for this though, seeing as there's only one movement the developer had to perfect.
The game gives you 60 levels to start, with another 30 that are unlockable for a dollar, but this is Rovio, so expect plenty of free updates over the coming weeks and months. You'll get through the original levels pretty quickly, but Rovio's release structure makes that okay.
Overall, Angry Birds Space is just a great iOS game. There's really no way around it. You can hate on the franchise and on Rovio all you want, but they know what they're doing with Angry Birds, and you can tell that they actually made an effort to give us something as original as possible, all while keeping the feel that made us fall in love with their game in the first place. Apparently they even worked with NASA scientists to perfect the mechanics involving gravity and physics in space, and they have to be commended for that.
But beyond that, the game is just fun, and that's what we want out of our 99 cents, no? That's why Angry Birds Space gets 9 stolen eggs out of 10.