Game Reviews

Angry Birds

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| Angry Birds
Angry Birds
| Angry Birds

Angry Birds? Impatient Android owners, more like.

After repeated delays, two beta versions, and then some more delays, Android owners are about ready to slingshot themselves through the office windows of Finnish developer Rovio in search of a final version.

Stay that giant length of elastic a moment – Angry Birds Android is here, and it’s as accomplished as the day it first crashed onto the App Store.

That famous bird

The premise must be familiar to just about every gamer, world leader, and troubled ex-footballer by now. You slingshot a selection of irate squawkers at the gang of green pigs that made off with your eggs. These pigs have holed up in a number of defensive forts made from glass, wood, and stone.

As such, you need to employ each bird’s special skill to take out every last pig in as few moves as possible. While the default red bird has no special properties, you can also use the likes of the blue bird (which splits into three with a second touch) or the black bird (which explodes when tapped) to name but two.

Angry Birds’s appeal lies in the simple tactile joy of playing around with a deceptively sophisticated physics engine, without having to think too hard about it. When you analyse each move, though, there’s a lot to take into consideration.

Aerial bombardment

First you need to weigh up the strength of your shot (adjustable by pulling back on the slingshot more or less). Then there’s the angle – are you going for a direct, flat shot, or a high-altitude dive-bomb? Then there’s the placement of your shot, with certain birds more effective against certain materials.

The reaction of the objects as they topple and splinter, knocking other sections over and (if you’re lucky) squishing the pigs within is a constant delight, and ensures that you’ll play the same levels multiple times in a bid to get a full three-star rating.

There are three of the iPhone’s four level packages available from the off. Considering there were just two at the launch of both the iPhone and iPad versions, we’re quite happy with that - especially as the 'Golden Eggs' unlockable bonus rounds have been included too. Presumably the fourth pack will arrive in a subsequent update.

Highs and lows

Less forgivable is the lack of any online high-score facilities. We’ve been assured that this will be added in the future, but a game such as this really demands a competitive social element (beyond posting your score on Twitter or Facebook) at its very core.

Technically, however, we have no complaints. I tested the game primarily on a Samsung Galaxy S which, as you’d expect, ran the game nigh-on-flawlessly.

However, I also tested it on a Motorola Milestone – a capable but no longer cutting-edge device – and the game seemed to run without a hitch. Performance certainly seems to have been improved since the beta release.

It’s taken a while, then, but Rovio is mostly vindicated in its decision to hold back Angry Birds on Android until it was almost perfect. It’s a shame they didn’t take the final step of including online high-scores, but the core game is just as maddeningly addictive as ever, with a generous (if not yet complete) array of levels to perfect.

To all those who've been waiting – here comes a very good thing.

Angry Birds

An almost flawless version of a casual classic, Angry Birds on Android is the best debut showing of the game yet