The well-known handheld hit Angry Birds has returned to consoles – only this time it’s bringing the force along for the ride. Of course, we're referring to the latest entry in the fowl flinging series: the PlayStation 4 version of Angry Birds: Star Wars. In this edition, you’ll be tasked with tossing birds from a catapult in order to destroy different structures – and hopefully squash pigs dressed as Storm Troopers in the process. As you flap through the adventure, you’ll earn points for every block smashed or swine slain, and gain a maximum rating of three stars depending on your score. Sound familiar?
The single player component introduces some newer elements that Star Wars fans will instantly recognise. The worlds are now all based on locations from the Star Wars universe; from the frozen lands of Hoth to the parched deserts of Tatooine, the game offers plenty to discover across its roster of eight worlds. Also, every bird is now based upon a hero from the Star Wars universe and subsequently augmented with unique powers.
For example, Luke Skywalker comes equipped with a lightsaber that can destroy any blocks in his path, while Obi-Wan Kenobi has the ability to use the force to launch bricks in a chosen direction. Other cameos include C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Jar Jar Binks [Urgh – Ed], and everybody’s favourite creature of wise words, Yoda. These characters and their unique abilities give a sense of added depth and skill to the traditional format, which actually elevates it above its predecessors.
Despite this, though, the controls are very easy to understand and child-friendly. You are given a choice between using the touchpad in the centre of the DualShock 4 controller, or you can opt for the classic analogue stick to launch your birds from the catapult. Once fired into the air, you can proceed to – depending on the bird – aim with the left analogue stick and push X to use its special power.
As those of you who have played the iOS or Android versions of any previous Angry Birds game will know, the touchscreen controls fit the gameplay perfectly. However, we found the touchpad on the PS4’s controller far too sensitive, and that made it difficult to aim precisely. As such, we recommend sticking with the traditional analogue stick, as it provides a much better sense of control.
The game’s not going to blow you away visually, but this version does undeniably look crisp on Sony’s next generation system. The colours are vibrant and it’s great to see the cartoony visual style blown up onto a large television screen – especially because it helps you to see where you’re supposed to aim your birds. The audio quality is equally good, with a mixture of music from the past Angry Birds games and Star Wars movies, resulting in enjoyable tracks that will make you want to hum along.
There’s plenty of incentive to let those tunes seep into your consciousness, too, as you can return to each level once you’ve beaten it to work towards attaining a maximum rank of three stars. Collecting these allows you to unlock ten bonus levels in which you get to take control of R2-D2 and C-3PO. The title also rewards you for every day that you play with a Millennium Falcon, which will help you if you’re struggling with a level. This essentially allows you to turn one of your birds into a golden egg, which acts as a sort of target for the abovementioned space craft to shoot at. In addition to all of this, each stage has its own unique leaderboard, fuelling you with the competitive urge to attain a top score.
The game’s actually pretty decent, then – but there is a Dark Side. Retailing at around £32.99, the release costs considerably more than its cheap and cheerful smartphone counterpart, and you don’t really feel like you’re getting much additional value for the price. The console re-release does come with an additional 20 exclusive levels and two multiplayer modes, but we’re not convinced that they’re worth the cash.
Stump up, and you’ll find a co-op option which allows you to play through the campaign with a friend, taking it in turns to launch birds at the enemies. The second social component comprises Score Attack, which sees you competing against up to four other participants in an attempt to achieve the highest possible score.
Angry Birds: Star Wars is a clone (trooper) of the other games in the series – but one with polished armour. The sci-fi theme and George Lucas-inspired powers freshen up the experience somewhat, but this is still fundamentally the same game that you’ve played before. There is a decent amount of content to work through when you factor in the exclusive levels and multiplayer modes, but the price is outrageous when you consider that you can buy the majority of the title for significantly less on a smartphone or tablet device. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of both franchises, we recommend that you leave this one in a galaxy far, far away.