The wacky new game launched today as the first major follow-up to Angry Birds, the birds-and-slingshots game that has been downloaded more than 700 million times.
We downloaded it and played through the first set of levels. The gameplay is at once familiar and also more fun, because the space setting allows for some interesting new zero-gravity physics effects.
As in the previous games, the birds are pissed at the green pigs. You have to touch the screen to operate the slingshot, flinging the birds at the pigs in their fortresses. If you use physics properly, you’ll take out a lot of pigs all at once.
Unlike the earthbound version of Angry Birds, you can launch birds into space junk, which then flies until it hits something. That allows you to cause a lot more destruction with a single bird than you could otherwise.
In the game, there are lots of small planets and asteroids, each of which has a atmosphere-like circle around it that exerts a gravitational pull on the bird’s flight. If you aim a bird correctly, you can use the gravity to create a secondary slingshot effect that swings the bird, increasing its speed.
The puzzles are pretty clever. As with previous versions, you can ask for a hint, replay a game until you get a three-star performance on it, or move on to the next one. It’s quite satisfying when you blow up all of the pigs with a single bird when it seems impossible to do so.
The sound effects are also good. The soundtrack for the space scenes has music that is full of wonder, echoes, and a slight menace. The pigs constantly snore, and they’re so annoying when they giggle that you feel you just have to wipe them out.
Not everything is based on realistic physics: When something explodes in space, it echoes (even though that makes no sense).
There are familiar types of birds, such as the red ones that shoot straight out of the slingshot and the red-and-black ones that blow up once you tap the screen. There’s also a new bird that changes directions once you tap on the screen. As new bird types are introduced, Rovio flashes an easy-to-understand image that shows how to use each one.
The cutscenes are short and very efficient in terms of how they communicate the story or what you’re supposed to do. Altogether, there are 60 levels, with more available via in-app purchases.
Perhaps the game is not nearly as amazing as the marketing hype would have you believe. But for 99 cents (on iOS, $2.99 for HD version), it offers hours of entertainment, which seems like a pretty good deal.