It's not as often these days that a noteworthy title is released on mobile platforms that isn't recycled or a free to play money making machine. Only a few years ago there were innovative and imaginative games coming out every other week, but when people heard how 'easy' it was to make a quick buck on the app store it was then flooded with reiterative garbage that now makes it impossible for quality games to be seen. Welcome to mobile game development in 2016.
This article is about Angry Birds 2 but larger than that it's about mobile gaming in general as it stands right now. The Angry Birds franchise has come a long way since it was unleashed on the world back in late 2009. Since then, millions of people have fallen in love with this easy to pick up game about birds flying into structures to kill pigs and the physics involved in doing so.
Rovio Entertainment, developers of the Angry Birds series, have since leveraged the huge fan base into a string of games, a cartoon series, merchandise and more. Even my local annual agricultural show (somewhat like a state fair for any American readers) has games using an over-sized slingshot to shoot plush toy birds into plush toy pigs for prizes.
The point I'm trying to make here is that the Angry Birds franchise is a monolith and you would assume Rovio would re-invest a fair chunk of that gained wealth into the first official sequel to the game that started it all for them. This was there big chance to take what made Angry Birds a staple in mobile gaming and evolve into something even better. Sadly they instead chose to pander to the current state of mobile games and create one of the most downright disgusting takes on the free to play concept that I have seen. I am under no illusions that Rovio is a company and the bottom line is generating money, but this?
It comes as no surprise then that Angry Birds 2, which has somehow already been out for 6 months, received fairly mixed reviews from critics and was generally panned by the majority of players. The surprise to me came when I saw Angry Birds 2 on my review calendar. It's been six months? In a world where big name movies and games can spend over half their budget on advertising, where was all the noise about Rovio's latest title aside from the release day?
While the game isn't without it's positive points (Angry Birds has never looked so beautiful and a few new mechanics including an interactive environment somewhat shake up the stale genre), overall I can very easily say that if free-to-play mechanics annoy you anywhere near as much as the annoy me, you do not want to play this game. Let me tell you why.
This time around, the birds are given to the player in the form of playing cards (because of course they are). No longer do you have to use the birds in the given order to complete the puzzle as you can now use your first three cards in any order you want. That's a nice change, but when every level has an aspect of randomization it can sometimes not even matter. Angry Birds 2 has taken away a lot of the strategy in completing levels compared to earlier games and has instead replaced it with a random number generator. While good for replayability, can be frustrating to use.
Accompanying this feature is a destructometer in the top right of the screen which keeps track of all destroyed pieces on the level. Destroy enough pieces and you'll be rewarded with a random card which will come in handy as each level comes in multiple parts and you'll be needing all the help you can get.
Another new addition is spell cards. You can buy these with gems in game or earn them from the destructometer. These are a one time use item that can do several things including raining down explosive ducks or even inflating pigs.
The main reason this game is so filthy is because of all the free-to-play bullshit that comes with it. Every box is ticked here including:
- Limited lives/energy (wait 30 mins per life)
- Premium currency which can be used to skip the level
- Social integration
- Easy 3 star completions (almost guaranteed by finishing a level)
- Daily quests
- Timed deals
- Treasure chests
- Watch ads for currency
- Character progression (even the fucking birds level up!)
- PVP Arena (pay to win)
Need another life? Watch an ad. Need more gems? Watch an ad. Want to cure cancer? Watch an ad. When does it stop?
So, Angry Birds 2. The production value is absolutely through the roof. It looks prettier than ever, but make no mistake that it is insidious underneath the surface. This game is so dirty that after playing it for this review I feel like I need a shower just by talking about it.
DO. NOT. PLAY. IT.