Mar 22, 2012
Angry Birds Space is exactly what it says it is. It’s Angry Birds in space. Not even gravity or the lack thereof can change what it is at its core – for better or for worse.
For those living under a rock or in a comatose state the past two and a half years, Angry Birds is a physics puzzler where players must launch birds with different properties at pigs, who are positioned both on and in structures of wood, stone, and ice. The goal is to destroy all the pigs before running out of birds, and to score enough points to try and collect three stars in each level.
Of course, everyone probably knows that because the Angry Birds franchise is absolutely gargantuan. The big twist here in Angry Birds Space is that the game takes place in space, which means that various levels of gravity come in to play. Levels incorporate the alteration of gravity in two ways. First is that there are zero-gravity sections, where objects travel in a straight line, losing no momentum unless they hit an object. Second, some moons will have their own gravitational field that can be used in various ways, like either pulling a pig from zero-G to fall to his doom, or for a bird’s flight to be altered by flying around it. Some levels actually play more like traditional Angry Birds levels, taking place entirely inside a gravitational field.
The gravity switching is a neat trick, and it’s the heart of this game. The new wrinkle brings some creative new levels to the process, yet it does all feel very consistent, and it still feels like Angry Birds. The controls are still effective and easy to use, and the physics engine is top-notch, even with all the new gravity effects. Everything feels like it works the way it should, and that’s especially important here, where things do get all topsy-turvy. Due to all the new gravity effects, the dotted line showing the expected flight path appears to be extended. It helps out a lot with understanding what the birds are going to do, considering that the different gravities can be confusing.
Tablet owners will be glad to know that the game runs perfectly on the high-resolution devices. My Samsung Captivate, a 2010 phone, runs the game extremely smoothly as well , so I must say that Rovio has done an excellent job at optimization. I’m also rather impressed and satisfied that they managed to launch it on Android simultaneously with iOS, instead of the typical delay between platforms. There’s the ad-supported version on Google Play and Amazon Appstore, and an ad-free one on the Amazon Appstore with a special Kindle Fire version as well; the ads are non-obtrustive, so going with the free one is my call.
What I am curious about with Angry Birds Space is how the casual audience is going to react, and if they’ll enjoy it the way they have with previous iterations of the series. With the way that gravity doesn’t the same thing in one level to another, it can get confusing because while the physics engine ensures everything works the way it ‘should’, the way it should work is not entirely clear! Granted, this is largely a matter of perception, and figuring out what effects are going on by looking around the level and becoming acclimated to it all, but understanding the physics is a more involved process than it was in any of the other games.
I would love to see more of the golden Eggsteroid levels that pay homage to classic video games like Super Mario Bros. and Arkanoid, especially those Arkanoid ones as they really mess with the core physics of the game in an interesting way. The free version seems to be missing the “Danger Zone” levels that are unlocked in the iOS versions.
As well, the gameplay is really just the same as it was in its previous iterations. The gravity’s different, and the birds behave a little differently, but it’s still Angry Birds at its heart. The “launch birds at pigs” formula just can’t change that much. It’s still a good formula, and I had fun with it, but it’s clear to me now that no matter where in the universe this game goes, it will always be the same.
Angry Birds will love this game because of what it is. It’s sixty-plus new levels full of more pigs to launch birds at, and the new gravity effects are legitimately interesting to play around with. It is more complex than the other games, but that’s a good thing for the future of the franchise, to have an iteration that sticks out a bit. The older versions aren’t going away, and they actually got new levels recently as well. Those sick of Angry Birds might enjoy the new gravity effects for a short period of time, and to see how they change things up, but this is still Angry Birds, and altered states of gravity can’t change that.