Angry Birds Space Review: Sending the Birds Into Orbit Was A Great Idea!
This feels like a review that needs no introduction. If you’re reading this, you know what Angry Birds are; you’ve likely played the game at least a little; and, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that the newest title in the franchise, Angry Birds Space, Was just released. So let me get straight to the point: Angry Birds Space is exactly the kind of sequel we needed, and it’s worth the time of any AB fan to get.
Angry Birds Space takes the popular bird-flinging mechanic and brings it into outer space, where flat surfaces are replaced by gravity-generating planetoids. In so doing, Angry Birds Space is far from the first game to introduce gravity-generating planetoids as a physics mechanic. Nintento launched Mario into space several years ago, and even iOS has had the gravity-centric shooter Bombardier’s Guild for nearly two years.
But regardless of how original the idea is, it was the right idea for the game. The original Angry Birds game, plus Seasons and Rio, are all great games, but they’re all basically the same game with different themes. AB Space is the first Angry Birds game to really play differently, thanks mostly to the gravity mechanic. Thinking through a level takes on more challenge when there’s more physics involved! It’s really fun to have to shoot a bird around the back end of a planetoid in order to score three stars, instead of directly at the target.
This is a different game, but not too different; this is, after all, still Angry Birds. You’re still launching the titular fowls at egg-stealing pigs protected by shakily-built structures. You’re still chasing three star rankings per level. you’re still finding hidden golden eggs (here dubbed “eggsteroids” and themed after popular video games like space Invaders and Super Breakout). Rovio has done something that every sequel hopes to do: it’s made changes, brought the game forward, while still maintaining the fun of the original.
One change that really delighted me was the changes to the birds themselves. Many of the birds have more or less the same abilities, but in space they can be used in very different ways. And the yellow bird has taken on both a different color — purple — and a more space-friendly targeting mechanic that makes him more precise and useful. There’s also the new ice bird, which makes metal and stone as fragile as ice and therefore sets the next bird up for a big hit.
Graphically, it looks great. Some of the visual refinements that began in Angry Birds Rio continue here, including the more impressive scoring screens and the richer use of color and shading. Everything has a retro sci-fi look and feel to it, which was the right choice, and the soundtrack is also delightfully retro-fied. I kept expecting to hear a theremin in there!
It seems like every AB game I review has some downside, though, something to prevent it from getting that elusive 5th star. In AB Space, it’s the IAP. Sadly, AB Space seems to mark the beginning of Rovio’s shift to a more IAP-based model. That 99 cent price tag is sweet, but know that this is the first AB game ever to feature IAP level purchases — specifically, a 30-level set called the Danger Zone. Sure, that just makes the $1.99, and isn’t that reasonable? But one can’t help but feel we’re just being desensitized to the whole notion of playing for new levels. Also, a single 99 cent IAP no longer gets you The Big Eagle indefinitely; instead, the Space Eagle is purchased in bundles of uses. Sigh!
Angry Birds Space is a great game that loses a little luster for having a level of IAP we’re just not used to seeing in an Angry Birds game. I love the game, but hate the direction these developments hint at. Still, for 99 cents, there’s 60 new boards here that offer enough innovation on the AB franchise to definitely make it worth a purchase.
Our Score: 4.5 stars.