How best to describe the Angry Birds franchise? Cultural behemoth would be my choice. Originally released in 2009, in 4 short years the game has expanded well beyond it’s humble beginnings as an iOS title and become a €150 million revenue industry. They’re popping up everywhere, from shampoo and shower gel, to fancy dress outfits, and even adventure parks appearing across the world.
In my opinion though, the strangest place that the birds and piggies has turned up has been the home consoles. While the move to handheld devices seem like a natural place for such a simple game concept, do the games work when blown up onto a 47” HD television set? More importantly, is their inclusion on the launch line up for the next generation consoles warranted or just a cash in aimed at those addicted to the franchise? We’ve taken hold of a copy of Angry Birds: Star Wars on the brand new PS4 to find out.
While the combination of Angry Birds and Star Wars seems on the face of it to be the thing of a marketing executive’s wet dreams (“Wait, we can tap into two lucrative markets at once? BUILD THIS GAME”.), I’m almost beside myself with confusion that it actually works. The Star Wars universe and characters aren’t haphazardly shoehorned into Angry Birds with little respect for the source material. Instead we see each level given a Star Wars themed makeover, and the enemy pigs replaced with Stormtroopers and the birds switched to recognisable figures from the franchise.
The inclusion of Star Wars characters isn’t merely a reskin though, each of the birds has been given unique skills. For, example, the blackbird is now the robed Obi Wan Kenobi and while inflight you’re able to unleash a Force Blast to destroy structures or defeat the Stormtroopers. There’s a Luke Skywalker bird who comes complete with a lightsaber, which you can use to tear through blocks and enemies alike or, for the more skilled players amongst us, deflecting blasts from the enemy weapons. There’s many more throughout the game and, much like on other Angry Birds titles, they’re gradually introduced as the difficulty ramps up and also helps to keep things feeling fresh.
As well as the usual style gameplay, Angry Birds Star Wars also contains stages that take inspiration from the Space sequel to the original game. Needing to take into account the gravitational pull from planets and the lack of gravity full stop in other places adds a great deal of variation to the gameplay and it’s hard not to take a sense of satisfaction when you fling a bird across the pull of two planets and land with a three star score.
While never going to tax the PS4 specs, Angry Birds Star Wars has translated well to the console in terms of graphics, with Activision and Rovio seemingly doing more than just blowing the game up to fit big screens, with a complete lack of that pixelization that has previously been seen on the console ports of previous titles. On the downside though, I would have expected the small comic book style sequences between levels to have maybe seen an upgrade to full animated sequences.
A new addition to this iteration is a multiplayer mode. Played locally, 2-4 players can partake in cooperative or score attack modes.
The PlayStation 4 version does make use of the newly included controller touchpad, but unfortunately unsuccessfully so. The touchpad seems too sensitive and more often than not you’ll run into difficulties trying this method. My advice would be to stick to the thumb-sticks. It’s a shame really because you’d expect the marriage of Angry Birds and the PlayStation 4 touchpad to be a match made in heaven.
In conclusion, Angry Birds: Star Wars is a difficult one to assign a score to. While the concept is undoubtedly fun, and admittedly it’s quite lovely looking even when played on a large screen television, the current price of £34.99 leaves a bad taste in the mouth when you can pick up the mobile version for less than a pound. It’s up to you to decide whether two multiplayer modes and 20 additional levels justifies a price hike of over £34.
As the wise Yoda would say; Wait for price drop, you should, young padawan.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: PlayStation 4 / Xbox One Release Date: 22/11/2013
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Angry Bird: Star Wars for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days on a PlayStation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.