Platforms: iOS, Android
Reviewed on: iPhone 6 Plus
Developer: Rovio Entertainment
Publisher: Rovio Entertainment
Angry Birds 2 is the next chapter in the Angry Birds franchise. Announced back in mid-July, Rovio rolled out Angry Birds 2 world-wide, and instead of the pay per app option, they opted for a free to play scenario with in-game purchases. But has the Angry Birds franchise hit it a wall, or has Rovio created a fresh new title, polished and ready to take over every smartphone and tablet in every household and every pocket?
Instead of a one-part level, Angry Birds 2 has multiple segments for each level, some with two parts that you need to get past, and some with three or four. The game still revolves around the trusted “angry birds kill pigs and move on to the next obstacle” formula. You have all your favourite birds like Red, Chuck, Matilda and others, each with their own special tap power that unleashes different abilities.
At the start of each level you have a set of cards, each card representing a bird, and you now need to strategise what bird to use when. Once you have played the card, the bird is no longer playable until you cause enough damage and kill enough pigs to fill up the power bar, replenishing one card. Each bird has its own advantages and disadvantages over a certain material. This is where the game becomes rather frustrating: Due to the multi-part level system, you never know which birds to launch first. You might use Chuck first, only to realise that he would have been more useful during the second part of a level, causing you to fail and lose hearts because the birds you have left are pretty useless against wood for instance.
The power bar refills the more chaos you cause and the more damage you deal to those pesky pigs. You can also collect golden pigs that instantly refill your bar, but these pigs need to be popped, and you are basically wasting a bird by trying to grab the pig just to refill the bar and gain other birds. The gameplay progression is questionable, and for every advantage to the game’s new features, there is a massive disadvantage shunting your progression.
New spell cards have been introduced, each with their own over-powered ability like, rubber ducks falling from the sky and destroying everything in their way, or a snow ball that freezes blocks making it easier for The Blues to destroy them. The Spell Cards are a great new addition, but with every free-to-play game, every new addition means forking out more money. Once you have depleted your Spell Cards, you will need to buy more with the in-game currency, called Gems. Gems can be purchased through the app store costing anything from R13 for 80, right up to R399 for 5 700. You can also earn gems in-game by completing tasks, but it is never enough to get you through a tight pickle.
The game’s worst feature is its in-game purchases. Anything from waiting for lives to refill, or getting to the front of the queue in the competitive arena requires these darn gems. I hate waiting for anything in life, and what makes an app on my phone think that it is good enough to keep me waiting when I have a console, a PC, and other mobile games that can provide a better experience than it in the first place? Angry Birds 2 pushes the whole in-game purchases to a whole new level, it has actually become greedy. I would have loved to pay a once-off fee for the game and get on with it, never having to worry about my lives refilling because the game’s levels and gameplay are setup in such a way as to make me die in each level before I know the layout.
Angry Birds 2 looks great, I dare say as great as a Rayman Legends title. All the environments are polished and well presented. The birds all squawk in their own unique and loveable way, and the sound effects of the blocks and pigs popping makes it all a great combination. But it’s the game’s poor in-game purchases and lack of any gamer associating qualities that makes it the worst example of a free-to-play title. It has moved from being a great game that you paid for once and enjoyed, into a monetised franchise that will probably make billions for all the wrong reasons.