Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Angry Birds Review

                                 




At its heart, Angry Birds is a 2D, physics-based puzzle game which features no end of personality and fun.  Although there are plenty of competitors in this genre, this entry stands out from the pack in a lot of great ways which I’ll detail later.  But first, the “tl;dr” version of the review:  This is a must-own game if you like lateral thinking and knocking stuff over.
Over the course of this review, I will discuss not only the game itself but some of the depth that I discovered during many hours of play.  In that sense, the article will serve as a hybrid between a review and an Angry Birds guide of sorts, helping the new player understand why this is such an appealing piece of software.  If you enjoy the article, you might also want to check out my other reviews as well.  Enough of that, Let’s dig in!


Premise and Gameplay
The premise of Angry Birds is simple:  Birds hate pigs so much that they choose to take their own lives in dive-bombing operations against their enemies.  Through a series of increasingly complex scenarios, the player is tasked with launching the birds out of a slingshot and into the protective structures that stand between the pigs and certain death.  The pigs are destroyed when they are hit by either birds or structural debris, and you complete the level when all the pigs are dead.  There is a “story” here which is told through some amusing still-frames, providing justification for the game world and acting as a palette cleanser between level sets.

For instance, the most basic unit is the red bird, an over-glorified rock which simply launches into obstacles and causes damage.  You will later unlock units like the yellow bird, a unit that allows you to tap the screen a second time after its initial launch, causing it to shoot linearly toward whatever part of the screen it is pointing at.  When you combine special unit abilities with the physics engine, new strategies and variants open up to the creative player.To begin with, the player controls only one type of bird and there is only one structural material to break through.  Things get more complex once the player is comfortable with using the slingshot, breaking through walls, and killing pigs: New unit types enter the equation, each sporting a different ability that can be employed against the pig fortress.
As an example, I often found myself launching the yellow birds up high rather than directly at the pigs – this allowed me to precisely dive-bomb weakened structures from above rather than attempting to break through the front walls.  Additionally, you’ll realize pretty early on that certain structures are weaker to specific units.  For instance, I found that using the bluebird unit’s splitting ability like a concentrated shotgun blast worked nicely on glass barriers.  This is the real beauty of the game:  Each person will adopt their own Angry Birds play style and strategies.
The real star of the show, the glue that makes all of these elements work, is the physics engine.  I’m a total sucker for throwing something at an in-game object and then sitting back, cackling while the results of my decision play out.  Any given structure in Angry Birds is essentially a house of cards, precariously perched on cliff-sides under tumbling debris and made even more dangerous by shaky foundations.  The physics calculations involved here are impressive to say the least, allowing these buildings to come crumbling down with (mostly) realistic consequences.  If you enjoy this sort of thing, check out Boom Blox on the Wii and Red Faction: Guerillaon the 360/PS3/PC for more physics-based chaos.
So what system should you be playing this game on?  In my opinion, a touch interface is the ideal way to interact with the game.  Using your finger to determine how much and at what angle the slingshot is pulled back is a tactile way to get the player involved with tweaking his approach.  For my money, the muscle memory involved with the iPad’s touch screen is just more satisfying than using a mouse.  That being said, Angry Birds for PC is available and is definitely worth your money if you don’t have access to the touch version.As you might have already gathered, the real depth in theAngry Birds app emerges from actions which seem fairly basic when considered in isolation, but expose their true potential in unison with other game elements.  Change the angle at which you shoot the slingshot, and now you can take advantage of the features inherent in the physics engine, including bouncing, rolling, etc.; engage your bird’s special ability at a different point along its flight path and take note of how the result differs from previous attempts; use a weakened structure to kill a pig rather than brute forcing it with waves of angry birds; the possibilities are many and varied.
Graphics and Sound
I’m lumping graphics and sound together because even if they are more than competent, they’re clearly not the main focus.  The sounds range from satisfying breaks and falls to hilarious emotes from the birds as they fly enraged toward their victims.  The graphics are totally appropriate, rendering the animals as lovable (if not psychologically unhinged) caricatures of their real-life counterparts.  There’s not much more to say here; the aesthetics do a great job of establishing the scene and then stepping aside to let the player focus on the real meat of the game.
Overall
My overall impression of the Angry Birds game is obviously very positive, and yet there’s so much more that I haven’t detailed in this review.  There’s a ton of replay value here thanks to the sheer number of levels that you can access as well as the availability of unlockables.  Additionally, the player is scored based on how many birds are left in the arsenal upon level completion so there’s always the drive to go back and improve your strategy in order to waste fewer birds and get higher scores.
The game is very approachable, adhering to the “easy to learn but hard to master” gold standard of game design which I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the site.  It’s appropriate for anyone that’s old enough to use the device it’s being played on, so the appeal is wide-reaching.  This game’s audience will consist mainly of people who like to size up situations and experiment with physical reactions.  Put another way:  Who doesn’t enjoy the opportunity to make a huge mess without real world consequences?

16 comments:

  1. ah finaly a review that I can send to my friend to tell him he needs to decide now to buy it, assuming it is the same on ps3?

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  2. great review. I also play it all the time

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  3. gotta love this game man , addicting . nice desciptive review

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  4. Great review, only played the game a couple of times but it is good.

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  5. Love this game. Once you play it, you get what the craze is about.

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  6. This game is super addicting. Played for about 3 hours yesterday.

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  7. Awesome game. VERY ADDICTING!

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  8. Great game, great review :) I wonder how big angry birds will get in the future..

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  9. Really detailed review, wonderful analysis

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  10. angry birds is fantastic, i just love this game.

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  11. I've seen this played on androids and Iphones etc. Seems almost as addicting as crystal defenders :D I absolutely love your blog, all of the information provided is relevant to my interests. Following!

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  12. I FUCKING LOVE ANGRY BIRDS>

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  13. I really don't understand the obsession with this game.

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. the good play, me she much likes, and with old graphics, and with new.
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