Game Review: Angry Over Angry Birds 2

Angry Birds 2 launch screen

The birds aren’t the only group angry about Rovio’s Angry Birds 2 (free). While the animation and drawings in the new game demonstrate Rovio’s increasingly top notch animation illustrators, the game play has deteriorated into a frustrating series of interruptions that keep the game from engaging.

My biggest gripe is the elimination of the recycle function, at least that’s what I call it, that allows players to recycle a scene after a bird has been launched and it's clear the round isn’t going to amount to anything. As an avid player and three-star owner on every level of every game, the only way you gain skills is by poking and prodding the scene to see what happens. In Angry Birds 2, you can’t simply hit a button, you have to pause, “give up” which isn’t the point, and then retry. The point should be learning and it should be positive. “Give up” makes every attempt seem like a negative failure rather than a learning experience. Yes, I’m projecting, but the simplicity of the first Angry Birds let you just learn and master the game without judgment. Hit the recycle button and start over.

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The next issue comes from scene play itself, which rather than being simple, self-contained puzzles, are now multi-level experiences. In an of itself, that isn’t horrible, but with the recycle gone, you feel like you need to plow ahead without the ability to go back and test yourself on the level you just “mastered.” Since Angry Birds never reveals what “good” looks like ahead of play in a scene, you don’t know what score will get you three stars. And then once you have three stars, you don’t know if that was the low threshold or a high one. I always like to go back and try the scene multiple times after I’ve master it to see if I can get increasingly higher scores as repetition increases my skill at hitting the right marks. With Angry Birds 2, this entire skilling up experience is so hard to come by that I’ve just stopped doing it.

Typical Angry Birds 2 scene

I have also noticed that it seems to be pretty easy to get to three stars. I don’t know what that is all about, but in the first Angry Birds, even some of the basic levels offer pretty challenging  problems to solve. Those familiar with any of the Angry Birds properties will find the scenes themselves less challenging than in previous versions even as the game experience overall devolves.

I do like that birds can be rearranged on the launcher. I don’t think they needed to introduce “cards” as a metaphor for doing that, though they also use cards to provide extra birds as gifts. I’m not going to get into the complicated reward structures, which I think are also unnecessary and confusing, as is the sense of a virtual journey being undertaken. That idea kind of worked with the Star Wars editions, but I don’t think it is necessary here.

Rovio needs to step back and realize how it differentiated strategically to start with. I'm sure the company has investors and game gurus giving it all kinds of advice, and that has resulted in ever-more-complicated, unfulfilling, and frustrating games each time Rovio launches something new.

Pros 

  • The drawing and the animation are first class, for a cartoon.

Cons 

  • For game play, animation takes a lot of time to load and unfold, and that means time watching rather than doing. The more time I’m passive, the less I’m interested in the game.
  • No recognition of skill building.
  • Might be fine for children, but Angry Birds was a big hit because even adults dug it.

Final Verdict

I’m not sure I’m going to get to three stars on everything in Angry Birds 2. I’m kind of tired already and I might well delete the app before I get to the end of the journey.

 

 

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Daniel Rasmus's picture

Daniel W. Rasmus is the Founder and Principal Analyst at Serious Insights. He is the author of Listening to the Future, Management by Design and Sketches of Spain and Other Poems. Rasmus teaches at Bellevue College where he teaches Social Media and Personal Branding.