Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: Angry Birds

Angry Birds (by Rovio) was a game I had heard a little bit about via some podcasts I listen to. I heard it was a lot of fun but I don't traditionally buy games for my Android phone. Earlier this week I discovered that it in fact was free! and Ad-based. Knowing that, I hopped right onto the Android Marketplace and downloaded the first great game to grace my phone.

The game is essentially a trajectory-puzzle game. You start with a level, a small arena if you will. On the left side is a small infantry of birds. The amounts and kinds of birds change depending on the level. On the right side are the pigs, the enemies. They are strung around a playground of sorts made of girders, glass, wood, boulders, and other obstacles you have to either bust through or get around. The purpose is to destroy the pigs via collisions by either the in-game assets or the birds. The birds fly, not with their wings, but with a giant slingshot. You choose the angle and the speed on the launch. This gameplay is simple yet addictive. I find that I get frustratedly determined to beat a level, only to find myself deciding I'll stop after the next. Then... the next... and another. It's kind of hard to break myself away from this game.

There are multiple kinds of birds found in your arsenal. The game starts by providing only your standard red birds. These are essentially balls because they do nothing but get launched and land and roll. No special powers. Soon though you are introduced to other birds. There are toucans that boomerang, bluebirds than act as shotgun shells, kamikazi yellow birds, egg bombers, and more. You don't ever get to decide what to use or what order to use them. That is level-dependent which is where part of the challenge comes from. The enemies eventually upgrade too with some of the pigs wearing cement helmets for instance. This makes them take longer to destroy.

The music is pretty simple but still nice. It's low-key so not to be distracting but still interesting enough to fit the theme. I however don't miss it when I have my phone's audio off to save battery. Same goes for the sound effects. They're nice and all but nothing special. You don't play this for the audio anyway.

There is a ton of content in this game. To start, the first level (and all subsequent levels) have a rating system dependent on a points system. If you do well, you'll earn three stars. If you just manage to barely complete the level, you'll earn one. So far it seems the stars might just be for completionists but I haven't yet beaten all the levels or even gotten more than just one star in them all to know if anything special happens. Still, even if you don't care about the stars or points, you'll find there to be a plethora of levels for you to play in. World 1, titled Poached Eggs, has three sections comprised of around 21 levels per section. Then there's three more worlds to unlock (which have been additional content released over the past year the game has been out). There's also a bonus section called "Bonus Eggs" which can be found in the levels. Collecting one opens up a special level to try.

Recently they released a Halloween themed pack and a Christmas themed one too. The Halloween pack, titled Trick Or Treat, is a set of spooky-themed levels. The other pack contains 25 levels but as of today, only ten are available. Each day until Christmas a new level can be downloaded and unlocked in the game. This acts like an advent calendar of sorts. Best part of all this is that it's free too! The holiday bonus levels include new terrain like snow blocks which easily wipe away for chain reactions and the enemies can be found wearing snow caps in the cold weather. Like I said, TONS of content.

I've been playing this on my HTC Evo phone. The large and bright screen makes for an easy to play game that is likely just as easy to play on smaller screens. It is available on the iOS, Android, Meeko, webOS, and Symbian^3 platforms. I don't know if it still costs money on the iPhone, but I was able to download it for free without problem on my Android device.

The Verdict:
A colorful and fun way to pass the time. Watch out for the addictive 'pringles' problem... the, "bet you can't have just one."

What I liked:
Levels are creative. Lots of bird variety for weapons. Physics are pretty solid. It's free.

What I didn't like:
The ads can occasionally be cumbersome in seeing things in the corner but this only occurs on select levels. The music, while not bad, could get annoying after a long game session.

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