I hate Angry Birds, and I love them. It may sound like a paradox, but it's true. The characters that make up the Angry Birds universe look like something coming out of an average ad agency designed to give the local butcher shop a friendly profile. They lack any real characteristics, and are somewhat annoying. But that's not the only reason why I hate these birds - they also stand in the way of so many other great games that are overlooked while everyone is busy playing Angry Birds.
Since 2009 a wave of clones have washed over the scene, clones of the game that was a clone of Crush the Castle. Just another reason to hate Angry Birds.
But there are plenty of reasons to love the physics based puzzle game as well. All in all it was a better game than Crush the Castle, and the Finnish folks behind the game knew how to best make use of the touch interface. Free updates and a well crafted basic mechanic has taken Rovio to the top, and there are no signs of the Angry Birds slowing down anytime soon.
The free updates have grown the game over the years, and a game that started off with around 60 levels now features several hundred. With many different themes and for a wealth of platforms.
However, in all honesty the concept is fairly thin, so it needs new ideas to keep the interest up. Obviously, Rovio felt the same way, and their solution is to send their birds to space with help from NASA. The result is that we're no longer focused on a flat level with obstacles.
Already in the first level it is obvious that we're exploring new territory. Your birds are on one planet with their sworn enemies the green pigs on another one. Both planets radiate a pulsating light, and as I sling away my first bird it's all given meaning. As the bird enters the "atmosphere" of the pig planet its trajectory changes as a result of gravity and it orbits downwards towards the surface of the planet.
Angry Birds Space replaces the challenges of traditional horizontal puzzles with a mix orbit calculations, clever level designs, and impossible constellations. You really need to think and calculate trajectories before you fire off your giant slingshot. Far more entertaining than the original and a much need injection of innovation.
It quickly becomes a game within the game to find chaotic shortcuts and alternative solutions. The game is divided into themes, and Pig Bang features lush environments where the pigs are happy to hide out next to the precarious constructions. This zone offers 30 levels with relatively modest challenges.
You are introduced to most bird types and the first boss of the game (there is one at the end of each system, something taken straight out of the Rio version of Angry Birds). The birds have, of course, been given a fresh coat of paint to go with their new surroudings, but some have also been given new abilities. Perhaps you recall the birds that were given an extra boost if you tapped the screen, now you can aim them in the direction you want them to boost.
It is not until the ice levels of the Cold Cuts system that our little grey cells are put to any real work. Here you're introduced to a new bird capable of turning rocks into easily breakable crystals in order to pave the way for your other birds.
In the Cold Cuts system the pigs often float around in bubbles, and your objective is to push asteroids on to them or used the gravitational pull of planets to put the pigs out of their misery. As previously seen in the beautiful No, Human.
Then there are some fun bonus levels that borrow from classic games like Arkanoid and Space Invaders. But just as we really got going it finished. Pretty much as expected. It follows the same principle as the original Angry Birds and after 60 levels or so it's over.
An extra zone has, however, already been added, but unfortunately the Danger Zone is one you have to buy to unlock. And this rubs me the wrong way as it feels a bit cheap to have to spend more money after just a couple of hours. Especially if you've bought the iPad edition that goes for £1.99 (a further 69p if you want to play the game on your iPhone as well).
And this is not the only way you can spend money on Angry Birds Space. You can also employ a giant space eagle to help you out with difficult levels. Sure, you're given a few for free during the course of the game, but you can also buy them. And as a high score system is tied to these birds, it's easy to go nuts on them.
If you ignore this problem, you will find 60 levels here that revitalise the Angry Birds concept in a way I never thought possible. It's still the king of physics puzzlers, and if you long for more bird fun you can go ahead and buy Angry Birds Space confident that Rovio delivers once again.