Last year’s Angry Birds Star Wars was not only one of the best Angry Birds games, but also a great Star Wars game, thanks to Rovio’s obvious love of the movies and clever melding together of the two mega franchises. A sequel was inevitable, and here it is: Angry Birds Star Wars 2. This time it’s based around the events of the prequel series, so you start off on Naboo with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon birds.
It’ll come as no surprise whatsoever to learn the idea of the game is the same as always, launch birds from a catapult towards dodgy structures hiding pigs. Each bird and pig represents a character from Star Wars, but as this is the prequel trilogy, we’re introduced to many new faces such as Anakin, Jango Fett, Padme, and even Darth Sidious. Gone are the days of some birds having a simple special ability, as each one is given something cool to do here.
Obi-Wan still wields the Force Push, and thankfully the physics seem to have been improved this time around, while Yoda has a bouncing lightsaber attack, and Darth Sidious uses Force Lightning. They’re all activated by a well-timed tap of the screen, and aside from the lightsaber, need a fair amount of practice to use effectively. Yoda and Sidious can be devastating when used well, or complete rubbish when not.
The first Angry Birds Star Wars was a real challenge, and getting three stars on each level took a lot of practice, even for experts. Things aren’t quite as tough this time around, particularly if you make use of the many extra characters. That’s right, you’re not limited to the birds you’re given on each level, as you can summon up a whole host of others to help out.
Everyone from Mace Windu to stupid Jar Jar Binks are there to buy, with 10 of each costing around 500 in-game points. Or, if you like, a pack can be bought containing a selection of your favourite Jedi birds for around the same figure. These points are earned by passing certain achievements playing the game, or, naturally, in return for real money. Those 500 points needed for the 20 bird Jedi pack? That’s nearly £3. Want 30 Yoda birds to fling around? That’ll be nearly £7!
Now, none of these are essential to playing the game, but Rovio is pushing these in-app purchases harder than ever. The store icon pulses so you notice it once you’ve earned some points, but as you almost never have enough for a meaningful purchase, it feels like a ploy to get you to pay up. It’s joined by another new icon, this time for Angry Birds Telepods, which are interactive toys used in conjunction with the game. Add these to the ads for other Rovio merchandise when the game’s paused, and the game feels secondary to Rovio’s attempt to pull in cash at every opportunity.
With a host of characters – each with different abilities – the level design either had to be really fiendish, or slightly simplified to make it beatable with any bird. Rovio has gone for the latter option, and although bigger and more complicated to look at than ever, a well-placed bird can usually bring the whole thing crashing down in one go. Like the constant reminder you can buy the Telepod toys, Angry Birds Star Wars 2 does feel as if it’s aimed more at kids this time.
This isn’t to say it’s a bad game. Rovio never disappoints with Angry Birds, and this is not only as enjoyable as ever, but it’s also the most visually appealing. There’s also the chance to play with the Jedi or the “Pork Side,” which brings in Jango Fett, Darth Maul, General Grievous and all the rest, plus there’s more things to collect and secrets to unlock on each level than ever before, so getting three stars isn’t the only reason to return after finishing the game.
Another piece of good news is Rovio has finally made an Angry Birds game universal, as Angry Birds Star Wars 2 is compatible with both the iPhone and the iPad in one app. The iPad is the way to go, as the levels are so big you need to zoom right out to get a good look, but once you have, everything becomes so tiny, it’s impossible to see what’s going on. It’s considerably easier on the larger screen.
Although it gives it a good try, all the advertising and the ridiculous in-app purchases doesn’t spoil Angry Birds Star Wars 2, thanks to its playability, charm, variety and masses of characters to perfect. For £0.69 it’s an easy purchase to make, and guaranteed to provide hours of the usual Angry Birds gaming fun, just be ready to have your wallet attacked at every opportunity.