Developer: Rovio
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The immediate reaction regarding Angry Birds Star Wars was seemingly one of derision, that it was a silly combination of two things that had very little in common. This was before Disney bought Star Wars, of course. Yet, now that the dust has settled and the game is finally out, is this really worth it?

Actually, yes. Give Rovio some credit: they justify this game’s existence by making it something that stands on its own with its play, while also integrating in enough Star Wars fan service.

Yes, the core of this game is Angry Birds. The goals are still the same, and I felt a bit fatigued while playing it – launching birds at pigs, even if they’re wearing Stormtrooper helmets, just feels kind of rote at this point because I’ve done it so many times before. But that core keeps getting duplicated because it still works, and still has moments of joy, whenwhen one shot knocks out all the pigs and it makes me feel like a supreme genius.

Angry Birds Star Wars does a much better job at integrating its license than Angry Birds Rio did, and that’s in part because Star Wars is just so memorable. The birds being the characters from the series is the obvious analog, with inspired choices like the giant bird being Chewbacca. Then there’s the implementation of familiar musical cues and sound effects like lasers being fired. It feels very much like Star Wars. Most importantly, it uses its setting to introduce new gameplay elements; the default red bird as Luke has a lightsaber to cut through blocks, the black bird as Obi-Wan has Force push, and the yellow bird as Han Solo shoots lasers. There’s also turrets shooting lasers that often come in to play.

Oh, and the first two level packs chart their way through A New Hope, and the first teased level pack is planet Hoth, aka the opening scene from Empire Strikes Back. I’m looking forward to seeing the yellow bird get encased in carbonite because that would be funny.

But really, it shows that there’s actually some loyalty to the license, to make it fit as well as it possibly could, instead of just being a cheap cash-in. It also serves as a great integration of the standard Angry Birds mechanics with Angry Birds Space mechanics like planetary orbit.

I find myself of two minds with this game: Angry Birds feels like it’s getting a bit old, but it doesn’t feel like it’s Rovio’s fault. There may only be so much that they can do with the core gameplay and formula, but they’re at least showing that even when they could get away with a quick cash-in, they’re actually trying to continue to iterate.

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