Review – The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure

Being able to play a movie tie-in video game in 2019 is an odd experience. Those titles are usually relegated to the wild west frontier that is the mobile market, so a console release like this always attracts my attention. Especially if it’s a VR tie-in game like The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure. Not only is this one of the very few, if not the only VR tie-in games out there, but this one also holds the distinction of being a game based off a movie based off a game.  This title is shared with the 2016 reboot of Ratchet & Clank and Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game, by far one of the best dumbest names in gaming history.

Given the franchise it’s based on, you’d expect The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR to feature the classic gameplay loop of throwing birds onto piles of bricks and pigs, something the other Angry Birds game for VR devices had already attempted. Turns out the game is only Angry Birds in its name and setting, as it follows the plot of the second movie (which I clearly haven’t watched), in which the birds and the pigs are now… allies? And they have adventures inside a submarine? Well, whatever the case, that’s also the game’s setting. You’re inside a submarine and you’re in charge of a group of pigs and birds who have to collect treasure underwater.

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While your pawns do the dirty work, just sit back, relax, and throw a plunger at a chest every now and then.

The closest comparison I can think of when trying to describe Angry Birds Movie 2 VR‘s gameplay is Overcooked. This is a local co-op game in which people have to work together, creating materials for the captain to use in order to capture items outside the sub, as well as handling the sub’s internal treasure logistics and figuring out which material needs to be created at any given time, as you’ll have to juggle between toilet plungers, torpedoes, and so on.

You may be asking yourself: “wait, is this a local co-op game?” Yes it is. “But isn’t this a VR game?” Yes it is. That’s the thing, in this game one person, the captain, will play with the VR goggles on, telling other players what to do, as well as properly aiming at the treasures and enemies with a more precise targeting system, while other players are in charge of creating resources and stacking treasure on their appropriate slots on the normal TV screen.

This is clearly a bold attempt. VR games usually don’t feature multiplayer components and those that do only feature online modes. Angry Birds Movie 2 VR tries to break boundaries by offering VR players and their family members or friends an opportunity to play an asymmetric local co-op title. Bold attempt doesn’t always mean “surefire attempt”, though. I found the entire gameplay loop to be quite boring, uninteresting, and considering the target audience, too convoluted.

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If this doesn’t look very exciting, it’s because it isn’t.

This is a game in which you have to constantly juggle between materials, clean up the deck, put the treasure in safe spots (or else the game won’t count them at the end of the run), and getting rid of explosives by throwing them into furnaces (logic doesn’t apply here). This is all performed by the non-VR players, while the VR player is just there, chilling out on his/her mighty throne, shouting out orders and occasionally aiming a plunger on a chest. Three people will be performing menial and boring tasks, while another one will be given occasionally fun, but very sporadic bits of gameplay.

It’s not fun for kids, it’s not very fun for the VR player, and if you decide to play this on your own, which is weirdly allowed, you’ll have one hell of a miserable time, as the game won’t balance things out for you or provide AI partners to help you out. You’ll have to do the work of four people at once.

It’s not entirely a disaster, though. I have to commend the game for one thing: the visuals. Angry Birds Movie 2 VR presents the movie’s trailer whenever you boot it up, and it’s clear to see how similar the character models are in the game and the movie. The graphics are excellent, retaining the movie’s vibe, with an excellent framerate and usage of colors. Sadly, those great visuals alone can’t save a game that’s simply not at all fun to play.

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This is what the non-VR players will see while playing the game. It looks like Overcooked, but is nowhere near as fun.

I need to praise the developers for trying to come up with something unique, not only for the Angry Birds franchise, but for VR gaming in general. Sadly, it just didn’t click for me. This is a co-op game that isn’t exactly fun with friends, as it gets convoluted pretty quickly, but also an absolute disaster if you decide to play it for yourself, as there is no AI assistance. If you really want to have a VR game starring the titular rabid avians, the other Angry Birds game for PSVR gets the job done a lot better than this one. This submarine is better off left sunken at the bottom of the ocean.

 

Graphics: 8.5

Giving credit where credit is due, the graphics are excellent. The characters look the part, as if they had just been brought from the feature film. The depth sensation is also fantastic.

Gameplay: 5.0

A weird take on the type of co-op gameplay popularized by Overcooked. It’s not unresponsive, but it’s too convoluted at times.

Sound: 5.5

Besides the funny movie trailer played whenever you boot up the game, the rest of this title’s sound design is very disappointing. It’s just a handful of ambient tunes and no voice acting.

Fun Factor: 4.0

Although it does offer a frantic co-op experience, the only player who’ll actually have fun while playing it is the one with the VR goggles. Regardless of that, you’ll be wondering why a game about the Angry Birds ended up being so unnecessarily convoluted.

Final Verdict: 5.5

The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure is available now on PSVR.

Reviewed on PSVR.

A copy of The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure was provided by the publisher.

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