The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Angry Birds Star Wars II turns Jar Jar Binks into a more interesting and dynamic character than Darth Maul. While George Lucas can finally say that the true potential of his maligned character has finally been realized, this is the only area where Rovio makes an element from the prequel movies better. Like Anakin Skywalker’s lackluster coming-of-age tale on the silver screen, this bird-hurling adventure is loaded with potential. It occasionally delivers fun and exciting moments, but too often it falls flat, instead reminding us why the original game was great.
The careful difficulty balancing that we’ve seen in all of the other Angry Birds titles is missing in most of these stages. I completed all 80 in just over an hour, and was rarely forced to jump into the menu to restart or alter my attack plans.
Granted, I didn’t three-star every level, or play long enough to unlock all of the special character missions, but I did three-star a surprising number of levels in this short amount of time. Rovio may view this difficulty level as better suited for the masses, but it takes the bite out of the game. Always winning isn’t a great feeling, especially when you expect to be challenged.
Of those 80 stages, I counted 13 that got the formula right and offered a decent challenge. The best stage focuses on The Phantom Menace’s pod racing sequence. Here, we see Anakin Skywalker taking on Sebulba, with a handful of piggy-piloted pods offering protection. This stage offers a satisfying level of destruction and nice chain-reaction possibilities. Jango Fett’s assault on the hapless Jawa tribes is also great fun, mostly because the Jawas are standing on hover pads that lose control and crash wildly after getting hit by rockets. This is also the first time that the player gets to control the evil piggies. Don’t expect any variations to the play; they function exactly like the birds.
Players don’t have to use the hand they are dealt. If you don’t like using Yoda and his crazy (yet surprisingly weak) twirling lightsaber techniques, you can retreat to the menu to replace him with any Light Side character. This is another area where the level design balance comes under fire; a stage carefully constructed for pinpoint targeting techniques can be torn down by bringing in a Jedi who can burrow through the structure.
Part of the reason Rovio implemented character switching is for Hasbro’s Telepod action figures (sold separately). Following in Skylanders’ and Disney Infinity’s footsteps, Angry Birds Star Wars II allows players to place an action figure over the iPhone or iPad’s camera to bring that character into the game. Don’t worry – all characters can be called upon without having to buy a physical version, but only a limited number of times before a recharge. If you buy the toy version, however, you’ll always have them available. You can also use the in-game currency or real money to purchase more uses, should you want more time with specific characters. These systems may sound evil, but I never felt the need to pay any extra money. By the end of the game, and just over an hour of play, I had plenty of reserves for each character. The action figures also allow you to insert original trilogy characters into your prequel levels, which plays out more like a time-travelling Star Trek series of events, but it is fun kind of fun seeing Luke complete an Anakin stage.
Even without much in terms of difficulty, Angry Birds Star Wars II is still moderately fun, but more in that “Wow, I didn’t expect that shot to level the entire playing field” kind of way than the “How on Earth am I going to get all of those pigs with just three birds?” formula we’ve seen in past iterations.
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