Review Update: 2/25/10, Version 1.2

Clickgamer has managed to impress once again. The newest version has full Crystal integration, which brings both leaderboards and achievements. Both are extremely welcome developments that add a lot of fun to an already-great game. As if that wasn’t enough, the update also brought us 42 new levels. Small wonder that Angry Birds has been doing so well in the Top Paid lists.

I loved the game before, and now it feels even better. What are you waiting for? Go kill some piggies!

Developer: Clickgamer
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

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

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

IMG_0393With a title like Angry Birds, you just know that this game is going to be a bit on the wacky side. And while it certainly is wacky, Angry Birds is also a great physics puzzler that mixes strategy, brute force, and luck to create a solid casual game.

The “plot” exists to justify the game, but it’s a justification that’ll make you laugh. A bunch of evil green pigs have stolen the Angry Birds’ eggs. Naturally, the birds decide that the best way to take revenge is—not to get the eggs back, oh no—but to jump into a slingshot and hurl themselves at the pigs’ fortified castles. Each level has your birds and their slingshot on the left side of the screen, and the pigs in their castle on the right; your goal is to destroy all the little piggies.

Toppling each castle, however, is often a challenge. This is one of many things I love about Angry Birds: the levels are never impossible, but usually challenging. You’ll need to shoot your Angry Birds at just the right angle and intensity in order to strike the weak spot in the pigs’ castle. Controls are super-simple: touch the bird in the slingshot, then drag back and release to fling it. You can also pinch and zoom to move around the map, as there’s typically a large gap between your slingshot and the pigs. You get points for each bit of the castle you destroy, as well as 10,000 bonus points for each unused bird.

There’s more to it than just determining the castle’s weak spot, though that alone is often a challenge enough. While you start with simple red birds, as the game progresses new bird types are unlocked with special abilities that can me activated by tapping the screen mid-flight. Blue birds will burst into three separate, smaller birds cluster-bomb-style; yellow birds gain a sudden speed boost. Black birds explode, while white birds have exploding eggs. In each level, you’re given a preset collection of birds, so using each type to your advantage quickly becomes another necessary strategic element.

IMG_0391Each time you beat a level, you unlock the next one. I do wish that we had more than one new level unlocked at all times—it’s rather disheartening to be stuck just because you’re having problems with one particular scenario. The included 63 levels should last you a while. Replay value is decent; there’s a tiered ranking system that awards you 1-3 stars for your performance on each level, so you can try to improve that, but leaderboards are noticeably absent. I can’t help but feel that Angry Birds would really benefit from OpenFeint or something similar.

As for the art, well, it speaks for itself. The disgruntled-looking birds are very angry indeed, and the cute green piggies are, well, adorable. The cute and cartoony graphics offset the birds’ fierce anger rather nicely, and it’s hard not to grin while you’re playing. The music is a merry, mocking little ditty and while it does get old after a while, it also contributes to the mood of the game. (In other words: yep, Angry Birds is all nonsense.)

You won’t find any extras here. There are no leaderboards, no alternate modes, no multiplayer, and no achievements. Yet despite the lack of such frills, Angry Birds is one of the best physics-based games I’ve played on my iPod. Destroying the piggies’ castles is a huge amount of fun, the difficulty progression is spot-on, and the humor jammed into it is the icing on the cake. Yes, I’d like to see some more content, but it’s a good game nonetheless. If you like castle-destruction at all, be sure to give it a try.

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