The power of phenomenon cannot be overrated. The very idea of combining hugely popular mobile physics game Angry Birds with the Star Wars uber-franchise must have actually spawned fresh, crisp bank notes out of thin air – so the fact that it was free to play on Android devices when it first launched was pretty staggering. I don’t know anyone with an Android device (or indeed any smart device, as the asking price stayed fairly low) who hasn’t had a dabble with Angry Birds: Star Wars.
Problems arise, however, when indie devs Rovio decide to bring the same game to home consoles. Angry Birds: Star Wars on PlayStation 4 is the same exact game (plus about twenty bonus levels) as you played on Android devices for free, except it now costs 35 quid. There’s really no way Rovio can justify this price, and it makes this version of the game incredibly hard to heartily recommend, despite its inherent quality.
Conceptually nothing has really changed. The ordinary Angry Birds “characters” have been replaced with Star Wars versions, and so are equipped with cool force powers and such. There’s a Skywalker bird who can slice through scenery with a lightsaber, a Han Solo fella who can blast pigs Greedo-style, Obi-Wan and his force push, etc… Levels that mess with gravity fields and orbital rotations borrow ideas from Angry Birds: Space but put them to better use here.
Unlike some license crossovers, however, nothing about Angry Birds: Star Wars feels half-arsed. George Lucas’ sci-fi fantasy universe is absolutely core to the game, from the sound effects and music to the little static comic-pane cutscenes that lampoon moments from the trilogy. It’s wonderfully tributary and the utter respect that Rovio have for the legendary franchise is always apparent.
You can use the Dual Shock 4’s central touchpad to launch your poultry missiles should you choose, but it lacks the precision of an actual touchscreen and tends to be slightly too sensitive. It’s nice to have the touchpad option, especially for purists, but for more precise shots you’re best of using the left stick and X button to kick things off.
Graphically it looks pretty on the big screen, clear, crisp and vibrant – and, of course, it’s beautifully smooth – but it’s no great visual leap from the smartphone version. That said, we never expected it to tax the PS4, and the colours are striking and attractive in every stage.
VERDICT: The great gameplay we all know and love is present and correct, the graphics are sharp and appealing, the extra levels are a welcome addition and, of course, Star Wars. But I can’t help but get hung up on the insane price of the PlayStation 4 version. There’s just no real way to justify the purchase unless it’s your only possible way to play this game – and even then, despite its appeal and addictiveness, it’s still not a truly essential experience, particularly if you’ve played an Angry Birds game before. Angry Birds: Star Wars is good-looking and great fun to play, but simply not worth the best part of forty quid just for the sake of playing it on a next-gen console.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Review code provided by publisher.