Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: 'Angry Birds Space' by Rovio

I honestly didn't think there would ever be a time when I posted about Angry Birds.  Sure, bring them up every now and then, maybe as a reference, but never a writeup dedicated to the series.  Not that I have anything against it, mind you.  I've killed as much time on the various iterations as anyone (maybe more) and I respect that Rovio has been able to make a goliath out of a mobile game.  But because it's just that - a goliath - it doesn't really fit into the MO of Upstart Projects.  So when Angry Birds Space was released yesterday, I obviously didn't think it would warrant a review.  Like the others in the series it would be fun, addictive, but essentially the same as the previous entries, just with a new coat of paint.  The birds would have on space helmets or something, and the world would move on.

Boy, was I wrong.

Maybe not completely.  Some of this game is merely dress up, with the same familiar birds in costumes.  There are some tweaks in powersets here and there, and a few new birds.  It's what you'd expect.  And don't get me wrong: what it does, and what it has been doing, it does very well.  The graphics are clear and crisp, the animation is slick, and the sci-fi polish, from futuristic visors to collars to meteorites, are pulled from classic b-movie tropes.

What I didn't see coming, though, was the major shift in gameplay that comes with gravity fields surrounding planetoids in the levels.  You're able to sling birds around planets and use this to add a whole new dimension to the game.

In a way, playing Space felt very similar to the first time I played Super Mario Galaxy a few years back.  There's such a drastic change from the way you played previous installments that it takes you a minute to realize no, this actually does make sense.  Once you reorient yourself to this new way of playing, you try to find as many was as you can to exploit it and have fun with it in a way that you can't with other game.

Despite being only a few years old, the Angry Birds series was in serious need of revitalization.  The mechanics are simple enough that anyone can play, but the other edge of that sword is that it's what hard to add much new to it.  Rovio has found a way to do just that with Angry Birds Space, and has been able to breathe new life into an already surefire hit.

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