We review Angry Birds 2, the 14th Angry Birds title in Rovio’s ever-expanding franchise.
The original Angry Birds was an innocuous enough iOS game by Finnish developer Rovio, but when it eventually took off, it propelled the brand to a level of recognition far beyond other App Store games. In fact Angry Birds may well be as ubiquitous as the hardware it debuted on, the iPhone.
Since Rovio turned its attentions to milking the Angry Birds brand every which-way possible, we’ve since encountered some 13 new titles hewn from similar cloth; whether through gameplay (Angry Birds: Star Wars) or by way of the universe that these disgruntled avian characters inhabit (Angry Birds Go!, Angry Birds Epic etc).
It’s strange then that only now do we meet Angry Birds 2, which on the surface feels closer to a reimagining of the original game rather than a true successor – a gap in essence already filled by spiritual sequels elsewhere in the world of Angry Birds.
The new game starts out with the familiar premise of egg theft by none other than the bad piggies. From the slick animated cut scenes, to the beautifully drawn environments, the rich music and rock solid frame rate, there’s little doubt that this is Angry Birds as Rovio had always intended.
Gameplay-wise, the fundamental mechanics of flinging birds from your catapult are unchanged, merely tweaked or augmented to help push the new experiences that sets Angry Birds 2 apart from its predecessor. Every bird has a secondary ability, letting you smash through tougher enemy constructions or defeat a particularly enduring boss and therein lies a key new feature.
The enemies are smarter and tougher from the offset. You may be used to disarming pigs surrounded by stone, wood and ice as per the original game, but what about ones that inflate their own safety balloons to avoid your bird-based projectiles or ones so big and powerful that they take multiple hits and techniques to go down.
Rovio has added character to the piggies as they watch your attempts at destruction and on occasion, their own demise. Even the environments are more dynamic, with plants and fans that help push debris, birds and enemies around provoided fall into their range. Use these additions wisely and there’s a greater chance of extending your score, causing even more destruction.
One of the most alien concepts within the new Angry Birds is in-game currency, and as with most freemium experiences it doesn’t stop you playing the game but it sure as hell makes certain aspects of gameplay more convenient.
You’re given five lives, run out of birds mid-level and gems can restock your supply without having to restart said level. You earn them by playing, but only in small quantities, real money lets you acquire more significant amounts, otherwise you have to forfeit a life to try a particular level all over again. Lives replenish over time, but again, money can speed things along if you wish.
Gems can also be used to purchase spells – power-ups that alter the level by damaging it or complementing the abilities of you birds. The blizzard power-up transforms all of the level’s destructible blocks into ice, making it easier for birds like Blue to smash through. Alternatively, the chilli power-up will set a pig in the stage on fire and eventually cause them to explode, often resulting in massive devastation, and in turn more points to you, the player.
There’s also an interesting add-on that we’ve yet to see in other Angry Birds titles, multiplayer, sort of… The Arena creates an endless set of levels that you play out to maximise your score by getting as far as you can before running out of birds. As with the main campaign, causing enough destruction refills your Destructometer, granting you an additional bird or spell to employ, but beyond comparing scores with friends (Facebook integration helps facilitate this), we’d only really consider it multiplayer in a very loose sense.
Angry Birds 2 , looks, plays, sounds and feels like the Angry Birds game Rovio’s always wanted to make. It’s not without its challenges, both intentionally and unintentionally, but if you want more of a good thing, that’s exactly what you’ll find here, for the most part.