Angry Birds: Star Wars PS4 Review: Bigger, Not Better

Angry Birds: Star Wars PS4 Review: Bigger, Not BetterA few months ago, Rovio’s Angry Birds: Star Wars flew the tablet coup and made its way to last-gen consoles. Almost, but not quite a carbon copy of that game showed up in the PS4 and Xbox One launch lineup shortly before those consoles released to further introduce the Angry Birds trial-and-error experience to couch gamers. The problem with this late move lies not within the game itself, which retains the classic Angry Birds formula that gave birth to a casual gaming institution, but in Activision’s decision to release it as a full-priced console title and not an inexpensive digital only treat and distraction.

Angry Birds: Star Wars isn’t the first Angry Birds game built around a mega entertainment property, nor will it be the last. It journeys through worlds like Tatooine, Hoth, the Death Star and Bespin, in addition to Return of the Jedi, to loosely tell the Star Wars story Angry Birds-style and present increasingly difficult mission boards to figure out along the way. As the game was originally designed for tablets, many of the cutely drawn cut-scenes appear as a small square in the middle of a large widescreen television display. It’s awkward at best and a lazy oversight in porting to consoles at worst.

Angry Birds: Star Wars PS4 Review: Bigger, Not Better

Rovio has taken the unchanged controls introduced in the first Angry Birds game in the Apps Store of firing birds off a slingshot with a flick of a finger and translated them to the PS4’s DualShock 4 analog sticks. It works well enough to lock in a flight course for each bird with analog stick aiming, though takes a degree of adjustment for franchise veterans accustomed to touch controls.

Two secondary control schemes offer the option of touch controls though neither is necessarily ideal. The first utilizes the DualShock 4’s touch-pad to toss birds with a finger swipe. It’s nearly impossible to line up a desired shot when staring at a small black pad to aim rather than the mission board underneath. I tried throwing two birds using this method and quickly retreated back to the analog sticks. The second touch option introduces PS Vita’s remote play. This works fine in practice but begs the question of, why? The whole purpose of playing Angry Birds: Star Wars on a console is for the bigger screen and two-player battles, not to shrink the experience down to barely bigger than a cell phone.

Angry Birds: Star Wars PS4 Review: Bigger, Not Better

Extra incentive to pick up Angry Birds: Star Wars for PlayStation 4 is the inclusion of 20 exclusive missions. They’re a fine addition to the already large roster of missions to try and conquer with three star ratings, but realistically amount to the equivalent of a DLC pack than something to justify the game’s high price tag.

If money were no object then the gleefully simple art of slinging chubby birds at equally rotund pigs in Angry Birds: Star Wars might have made a sliver of sense to release as a PlayStation 4 (and Xbox One) launch title at a $50 price point. Unless you bathe in gold coins, money is indeed valuable, and in no logical way would it ever make sense to drop nearly the same amount of dollars on a game readily available to purchase on tablets for $1 as it costs to pick up Killzone: Shadow Fall, despite its incessantly addictive gameplay.

– Dan Bradley

Angry Birds: Star Wars was reviewed on PS4 using a code provided by publisher Activision. It was released for PS4 on November 15, 2013, and for Xbox One on November 22.

Angry Birds: Star Wars PS4 Review: Bigger, Not Better

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