Hands-on: Angry Birds Star Wars

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When Rovio and LucasArts announced Angry Birds Star Wars a couple of weeks ago, our inner Star Wars nerd cringed like there was no tomorrow. While we’re pretty used to George Lucas squeezing every little bit of merchandising from the revered sci-fi franchise, most of the Star Wars faithful wasn’t really counting on Lucas teaming up with the hit mobile game maker. They also weren’t counting on Disney buying the rights to the franchise, so it’s safe to say at this point anything is possible. We braced for the worst, expecting another shoddily coded game made solely for merchandising opportunities. That was our mindset going into playing the new game, and we’re pleasantly surprised that that’s not the case.

If you haven’t already guessed, Angry Birds Star Wars combines the gameplay and mechanics of Angry Birds with the characters and setting of Star Wars. Our intrepid, slingshot launched fowls are now cute approximations of recognizable characters from the franchise, which include Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Chewbacca. Accordingly, their swine opponents are now clothed in the traditional livery of the Galactic Empire, which includes Pork Vader.

The game combines the gameplay mechanics from the original game and the successful space expansion, so players can expect to battle the pigs in both terrestrial and space environments. The powers of the birds have also been slightly tweaked to conform to the Star Wars universe – you can now use lightsabers to cut through structures, use the force to push and collapse structures in the direction you want or shoot down pillars and supports using blasters.

There have been changes in the environment as well. Stormtroopigs aren’t just static targets this time around – they’re completely capable of shooting blasters in predetermined areas that repels the trajectory of the incoming birds. Some structures also redirect blaster fire (while taking damage) which makes for some tricky shots in some stages. Players can also take advantage of blaster-toting pigs by knocking out support structures underneath them and redirecting their blaster shots to their compatriots and the structures they stand on.

Players can also call in heavy artillery to blast the pigs to kingdom come using the Millennium Falcon. This ability is especially handy when you’ve already reached your limit in terms of patience for a particular stage and just want to get it over with. A single run with the Falcon usually annihilates most enemies and structures, which allows you to clean up a stage quickly with whatever birds you have left. The Falcon is a limited resource though, and is only replenished by achieving hi-scores at the end of each stage.

Angry Birds Star Wars is pretty good, and should be on the top of most people’s download list. We haven’t gone through the entire game, but from what we’re seeing, it’s worth a download. The game is available in the iTunes store, and through Google Play.