Developer Rovio has spared no expense promoting the latest iteration of their billion dollar franchise since announcing Angry Birds Space last month. An aggressive marketing campaign, involving big names you don’t usually associate with video games (such as NASA and National Geographic), promises an epic new space adventure for the Birds to embark on. But, does it live up to the hype?

Much has stayed the same in the world of Angry Birds. At its core, the game hasn’t changed – you still take control of a group of avian heroes who must wrestle back their eggs from green pigs who are intent on having omelets for their next meal. The player accomplishes this by flinging the birds using a slingshot towards their swine adversaries, who have fortified themselves in various encampments and contraptions. As before, the game assigns a set of birds for use in each stage. Five of them are old favorites in different costumes from previous games, while the new alien Ice Bird will allow you to freeze enemies and blocks for easier destruction down the line. Similar to the Might Eagle of past games, special Space Eagles can be found in several stages in limited numbers for free or as an in-app purchase ($0.99 for 20). Activating a Space Eagle will replace your current bird and allow you to launch a wormhole into enemies, causing heavy damage or just sucking them in altogether, allowing you to “skip” the stage in most instances. This is a nice touch for those who are stuck on a current level and want to take a breather by moving onto the next stage.

The best and most noticeable new feature is the new setting: space. Outer space introduces a new gravitational element for players to consider. In a zero-g environment, catapulting a bird will cause it to fly in a straight line. However, planets great and small exist in each stage and the accompanying gravitational field will pull in anything, Birds, Pigs and objects alike, either into its orbit or onto its surface. This new mechanic is the focal point of ‘Space’ – for example, if several smaller planets are close together with overlapping gravitational fields, this will allow you to curve your Bird in several different directions in one shot. This might sound complicated at first, so to alleviate the learning curve, the game includes a dotted line guide (a la the early stages of ‘Bust-a-Move’) that will indicate the trajectory of your Bird. The gravity field mechanic allows the developers to introduce much less banal level design than with past games – for instance, some of the Pigs can’t be reached with a direct shot, so the player must place a counterclockwise shot to reach them.

Our only real complaint about the game, and every Angry Birds game, is the inability to change the order in which you use the birds. Allowing the player to change the order will add a new strategic element to the game instead of forcing the player to attempt the stage using the same birds and their abilities over and over again in the exact same order. On the other hand, the game’s difficulty has not changed from its previous iterations, so for those of you who find the game’s 60 basic levels a bit too facile for your tastes, 30 additional levels in the more challenging Danger Zone world can be purchased for $0.99.

All in all, Angry Birds Space is a worthy entry into the franchise. If you weren’t a fan before, this new game may just indoctrinate you into the cult of the ‘Angry Birds.’

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewer played Angry Birds Space on the iPhone.

‘Angry Birds Space’ is available for iOS, Android, PC and Mac. The game was developed and published by Rovio. This review was based on four hours with the Nook Color HD version.

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