It’s fair to say that Angry Birds has seen its share of spin offs and tie ins in the past, but you’d be very wrong to write off Angry Birds Star Wars as just more of the same. Rovio has worked hard to bring Star Wars into the very heart of the Angry Birds universe, and with it, a whole host of new mechanics to add to the gameplay.
It loosely follows the storyline of the 1977 classic, with cutesy cut-screen animations placed in between gameplay portraying the Angry Birds as the film’s much-loved characters and the pigs playing the roles of stormtroopers, TIE Fighter pilots and even Darth Vader himself.
Your $1.28 (on iPhone – it's from free on Android or $4.49 for WP) nets you two worlds, Tatooine and the Death Star, with 40 levels in each. The Empire Strikes Back's ice planet Hoth is coming soon, and you can unlock a fourth in Dagobah with an in-game purchase.
Gameplay is initially similar to Angry Birds Star Wars' predecessors – but you're soon introduced to the birds' new abilities. Red bird is now Luke Skywalker – complete with a '70s-style blonde mop of hair – who can unleash a devastating lightsaber attack just before impact with a single tap. The black bomb bird is now Obi-Wan Kenobi, complete with the ability to use Force pushes in the direction a player taps, while the yellow bird is the fearless Han Solo, with three blaster shots up his sleeve for wherever you aim. There’s even a furry Chewbacca bird, complete with Chewie sound effects, which is simply huge and destructive. And it’s these new mechanics that gives Angry Birds Star Wars the edge on its predecessors.
No longer does the gameplay feel left open to chance – the birds' new arsenal adds a new level of challenge. To complete a level you may need to fire Han Solo in one direction and direct his blaster shots in the other, or use Luke's lightsaber at just the right moment to deflect a Tusken Raider’s laser blast right back at them.
Stage design is clever, drawing on the best of the original Angry Birds and the zero-G gameplay introduced in Angry Birds Space, keeping the levels interesting – just when you may start to tire of the standard gameplay setting, you’ll get a space level dropped in to keep you on your toes.
Plus there’s the bonus levels, unlocked by hitting a certain number of stars, which include a mini R2-D2 and an egg-shaped C-3PO as your chuckable characters.
Where previous Angry Birds games featured the Mighty Eagle to give you a helping hand on tough levels, here it's been replaced by (what else?) the laser-packing Mighty Falcon. As you progress through the levels and unlock achievements, you're given a limited number of these to unleash at your will – or you can of course buy more through in-app payments. At $2.58 for 20 or $25.98 for 200, we'd have to question why you're playing the game if you're struggling that much.
Angry Birds Star Wars brings hours of challenging, entertaining gameplay that Angry Birds and Star Wars fans alike will love. The new mechanics and great stage design show Rovio is committed to evolving the series in a way that players will enjoy – it hasn’t simply jumped on the Star Wars bandwagon to make a quick buck. In fact, we’d go as far to say that it’s the best Angry Birds yet and it deserves every bit of the success it will undoubtedly receive.