Review – Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs

If you told me back in 2009 when I first started playing Angry Birds that there would be nineteen main games, four spin off games, a movie, and an entire merchandise line I probably would have laughed. Not that I didn’t love Angry Birds, I just didn’t think it was going to take off like the massive hit it turned out to be. Here I am though, in 2019, reviewing  Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs. As surprised as I was that they made a VR version, I was equally perplexed that this idea wasn’t done much sooner. So is Angry Birds just as fun and charming as it was on our phones? Let’s take a look!

If you somehow never played Angry Birds then let me quickly bring you up to speed on the story. Pigs have invaded the birds village and stolen their eggs, which naturally makes the birds very, wait for it, angry. It is up to you to use a colorful cast of pissed off  avian creatures to slaughter every pig you come across to rescue the eggs. Using a slingshot, you’ll need to fling birds into the pig’s strongholds to topple them over and squish the pigs that are protecting it. The strongholds will steadily evolve and get more challenging, requiring different bird abilities and strategies to properly topple and eradicate the egg thieves. Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs features four worlds with thirteen missions and the final one is always a boss fight.

Angry Birds

The guiding dots often makes shots easy, minimizing any skillful calculations to do yourself.

The gameplay remains the classic Angry Birds style, as I mentioned above you need to slingshot birds into pig strongholds to bring them down. You’re still granted a dotted line from the slingshot to help you aim better, but unlike the phone game, I never felt far away enough to feel like I was ever taking a chance on a shot. To further explain, there were times in the phone version where the slingshot would be placed far enough away where the dotted line would run out, requiring you to try and calculate the rest of the arc yourself. However, in the VR version that was never an issue and it made the majority of the game much easier. One new feature that was an interesting twist on the formula was offering different vantage points around the strongholds. Not every stronghold supported all the vantage points, but it was fun getting different views and figuring out where I should attack from first.

The selection of birds is also much smaller than the phone version only offering four of the birds while Angry Birds Classic had eight. Also, the birds design comes right from the 2016 movie adaptation instead of the actual games which I’m assuming was for the cuter models in VR. You’ll start off with Red, a permanently grumpy bird who is nothing special, but he can get the job done. Chuck, after being slingshotted, has the ability to gain a great deal of speed in air and rip right through chunks of wood. Bomb is, well, a bomb and can detonate doing large area damage and is great against concrete structures. The Blues are triplets, whom after launching can split into three different paths annihilating glass pieces within structures. Using a pre-set combination of three of these birds, the objective is to take the structures down the easiest without using all your birds. Doing so will grant bonus points and help you three star the level. Really, you only need to one star each level to proceed, but do you really want to settle for the bare minimum?

Angry Birds

Bosses will require multiple hits so you’ll need to hope the physics are on your side.

 

Unfortunately, after the initial fun factor of playing Angry Birds in VR wears off, you’re left with a fairly unchallenging version that feels like it overstays its welcome. I say “feels like”, because I still beat the game in about an hour and a half, mostly two and three starring every level, but I was bored already. Some levels offer no challenge and the ones that do seem to manufacture challenge by leaving it up to the physics to hopefully take out one of the piggies. This resulted in a couple very annoying spots, but any Angry Birds fan understands this as something normal. However, the key difference here is that it’s much harder to remove yourself from your VR device to take a break, unlike only needing to put your phone down and come back. These sections made me wish I wasn’t playing this in VR and I feel like that is a pretty big issue for a VR game.

The visuals were nice, I enjoyed the nice soft cartoony environments as well as the character designs from the movie. It helps give them a bit more personality, but strangely enough, only the birds were modeled after the movie while the pigs retained their classic design. I assume this was a gameplay decision since often you’ll need the pigs to roll of structures to their doom and if they had legs it would look strange. The sound design is still as solid as ever with the cute and bouncy theme song, the sound effects from various materials breaking, and even the piggies shouting insults at you.

If you’re a die hard Angry Birds fan and a VR version is something you have always wanted, then I say this is absolutely for you. If you’re a casual fan of Angry Birds and were only interested in it for the puzzles and novelty, then I say wait for a price drop because $15 is pricey for what you get. You’re likely to get more enjoyment, and certainly more content for you money, out of the phone app version.

 

Graphics: 8.0

Pleasing cartoon graphics with a mix of the charming movie and game character designs.

Gameplay: 7.5

Slingshotting birds in VR is fun, but the novelty is short lived.

Sound: 9.0

All the classic music and sound designs are back and as good as ever.

Fun Factor: 5.0

There isn’t a lot of content to be had here, offering a bare bones version of what you can get much cheaper on your phone.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs is available now on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Reviewed on Oculus Rift.

A copy of Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs was provided by the publisher.

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