Ah, so here’s the new Angry Birds, but have they bettered the original game?
You may not like the massively popular Angry Birds, but everybody else does (or at least seems to) and developers Rovio have gradually improved upon the basic formula over the years and won a couple of nice licenses in the process, not least of all Rio and now this, Space, which is actually in collaboration with NASA, The Daily and National Geographic
It probably doesn’t get much more ambitious.
But names aside, it’s in Space’s core gameplay that the game really innovates – casting aside the now awkwardly flat levels for ones set around moons, gravity and, even early on, some interesting gameplay twists. If you’ve played early PSP minis game Blast Off! you’ll be familiar with the new mechanics – gravitational pull is the main concept here. Unsurprisingly, it works brilliantly, even though there’s a considerable learning curve even for fans of the originals.
Visually it’s very much Angry Birds – the titular fowl look mostly the same, although they and the pigs are better animated, and the menus are all consistent with past games in the series, albeit now naturally set in space and feature lots more scrolling around. Although I grabbed the HD iPad version, the backgrounds aren’t at Retina resolution and actually look quite blocky and compressed in places.
The sprites are all super sharp, though, and the game clocks in at just 20MB, so it’s a reasonable compromise even if it’s not ideal.
Musically it’s neat, variations on the Angry Birds theme play off against brilliant 70’s inspired sci-fi sound effects and audio bursts, with the main ‘speech’ samples from the birds and pigs largely the same as before. The main changes for the better in terms of aesthetics include a red dotted line that extends as you pull back to fire (which shows you where the bird will fly) and some fancy trail effects.
It’s not all roses, though, there’s a little more trial and error involved with the levels, especially as they get bigger and you realise you can’t just rely on basic physics to get you through as you experiment with the gravity pull aspect, and the dreaded in-app purchases rear their head all too quickly – there’s one for ‘more levels’ in the Danger Zone (super hard missions) and another for the Mighty Eagle, which needs to be topped up if you use it rather than a one-off purchase.
Hopefully Rovio will add new levels for free as they’ve done with past games, but you can’t escape the feeling that when you buy big name games like this now you’re essentially getting a shell of a game that gradually gets populated down the line with more content – paid for or otherwise – and the links out to NASA and plentiful adverts in the pause menu only reinforce this fact.
It’s good though – the gravitational elements are clever (although hardly unique), the new Ice Pig is a neat idea and the presentation is top notch, again. And the bosses are ace.