Saturday, 3 November 2012

Angry Birds Space

After much talking and squawking about it, the Angry Birds finally blasted off to space, with much redecora-tion. The hype about the new game is the new gameplay, really. After all, the other versions of Angry Birds all differ only in background changes. Angry Birds Space wants to provide a fresh approach to flinging avians at porcines.Angry Birds has always been a well designed game, and Space offers no disappointment. The birds have been rede-signed to look more out-of-this-worldly and the pigs have space hats. The sun hangs out in the background and the game takes full advantage of space rocks and even space moss for a full out of this world environment. Even the way the Mighty Eagle blasts into the pigs has been given a cosmic blowout effect. The familiar birds from the regular versions have new features on their faces to look angrier, the yellow bird even has a new purple coat. The space environment also plays with a winter wonderland concept as there are ice sculptures and of course, a brand new ice bird The first new thing you will notice about Angry Birds Space (aside from the new environment) is the trajectory lays out a path for you to shoot the bird. You can more or less predict where your bird is going to land. When you're in a gravity bub-ble, of course. Which brings us to the next feature. No gravity.
The transition between zero gravity flinging and gravity flinging is handled pretty well. These were the two areas where NASA came into the picture. The trajectory, gravity and the relation-ship between the two are simulated as they would be in actual outer space. There is a small learning curve until you get how exactly things move around and the speed at which objects like rocks and the birds move around in zero gravity. What I really enjoyed was the relationship between gravity bubbles with other gravity bubbles. Sometimes, the pigs exist within two or three different bubbles and using one bubble to traject into the other is an interesting addition. Furthermore, sometimes the pigs exist in their own bubbles in regular floating space. When the birds or a rock burst these bubbles, the pigs freeze and explode to death. Very very cool.
Like the previous games, my major gripe with Space is that the intro levels start out easy and suddenly become very dif-ficult. No doubt, difficulty is what keeps the user coming back, but the average user will easily get tired spending five or six tries on any given level. What's especially frustrating is the speed of rocks and the "chance" with which the pigs will die makes gameplay very difficult.Rovio promised new birds with new powers. Now, there are two worlds in this game, each with 30 levels. The first new bird shows up in the second world in level four, which makes it the 34th level. Granted, Rovio is accounting for a learning curve as the regular birds have been rehashed, but a few levels in world one are boring and repetitive from using the same birds in frustratingly difficult scenarios. The red bird and the blue birds are pretty much the same. It's the yellow bird, which is now the purple bird, that's changed a bit. It can now change aim mid flight. It will still fly with extreme power when tapped and is still mostly useful only for breaking through wood. The black exploding bird now has shades of red.
The ice bird is a good concept, but I wish it had been given more power. Currently, what it does is it freezes the rocks, glass and wood around a pig, so the blue bird can smash through all of that. However, this really just seems like a waste of a bird. The ice bird will only kill a pig, if it directly hits a pig. I would have liked to see the ice bird been able to freeze a pig and have it explode, like the floating pigs when they're busted out of their bubbles. Furthermore, with all the other regular birds, the game had a small tutorial to show you how to use them. This is not what happened with the ice bird. It's not really an issue of learning difficulty, rather just one of consistency.
The Eggsteroid levels now are 'graded' with stars, too, and of course, getting three stars is difficult. In the regular Angry Birds, the golden egg levels are usually easy and fun, using domino effects usually to kill the pigs. Not in Angry Birds Space. The eggsteroid levels are difficult and you actually have to spend a few times guessing what you need to do to get the pigs. The Mighty Eagle is still around and doesn't work the same way as the regular Angry Birds' Mighty Eagle. First off, it's not an in-app purchase. You can purchase more "Space Eagles", of course for varying dollar amounts, but you also earn free space eagles through game play. Needless to say, you can't just use one every hour, you use, however many you have and they're done. To launch the space eagle, you're still tossing a little can of sardines on to the scene, but unlike the regular Angry Birds Might Eagle, space eagle will only kill the pigs closest to it. If there are pigs on another side of the space rock, they stay alive. A little bit of a rip off, if you ask me, especially since the space eagles don't recharge.
Another cash cow-ey feature is the Danger Zone, which is another planet presenting 30 more difficult levels. The first level is free. You have to pay again to play beyond that. So not only is the app not free (on iOS), you have to make an in-app purchase to unlock more levels.
The app is also a little buggy. It's crashed on me about four times in the three days that I've had it. Switching between lev-els and worlds can be a little laggy as well. Furthermore, the app drains the iPhone 4 battery (at least), like woah!. The game connects with Game Center for its own set of achievements.Angry Birds Space was launched with the idea of introduc-ing a new angle to the already notorious,yet, arguably fizzling game. However, what's new got old pretty quickly. Also, the cash cow-ness of the Mighty Eagle was a huge turn off. The gravity and trajectory should get the credit they deserve, but even those aren't enough for me to be hooked to my phone, wanting more pigs in space action. With further updates, it's likely that Rovio will just release more of the same. Overall, my excitement in the beginning of the game turned into frustration and disappointment pretty quickly.


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