As a special preview, the newest Angry Birds game is being tested here in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The rest of the world will have to wait for our response and the changes its creator, Rovio, makes as a result.
Angry Birds Epic
There seems to be two reasons for this:
First, Angry Birds Epic is an entirely new kind of game in the franchise, a sword & sorcery adventure where the birds travel across a fantasy world, battling groups of armed pigs in order to rescue their sacred eggs.
Second, it introduces a new payment scheme. The game starts off free, but when you unlock a special reward it takes a moment to first roll a die. If the number comes up high, you get your reward as is, but if it comes up low, the game reduces the prize’s attributes. To get the reward that was promised, you have the option to buy “essence of friendship” tokens through a coin system priced between $4.99 and $99.99 to spin the die again.
Parents can prevent these purchases from happening by accident by turning off “In-App Purchases”, found under the Restrictions list of the General section of the Settings on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad.
It’s a nasty trick, but the kind of ploy game makers insist are the only ones that people seem to respond to as compensation for their hard work (although the Angry Birds brand has earned millions regardless).
I can testify that you can get quite far in the game without spending any money and still be entertained.
Is the game fun? It’s fun, but repetitive.
There’s a fighter bird, a wizard bird, a healer bird, and a heavy weapons bird. You move them across a map to trigger fights with mixed groups of fighter, wizard, and lackey pigs.
Most games in the role-playing game (RPG) genre tend to be long, deep, and complicated experiences, but to appeal to casual players the Angry Birds version is greatly simplified.
Your birds line up for battle and you take turns swiping them against the pigs. The game automatically takes care of weapon choices and ability upgrades, reducing it down to simple screen swipes and the strategic choice of attacking, defending, or healing.
It’s simple, but shallow. Your birds move along points on a map, each one triggering a fight, and that’s it. There’s no real locations, no places to explore, no conversations to trigger, and very few characters to meet outside of a fight.
Despite a constant flow of collectables, special items, new enemies, and animated effects, the game tends to be just one battle after another.
Rovio has been dabbling in Angry Birds books, cartoons, and even has an upcoming feature film due to hit theatres, so they seem eager to establish stories and an entire world for their characters, the kind of ingredients that will help their brand last beyond a fad.
Despite the feeling of a story and adventure with Angry Birds Epic, it barely creates any sense of story or world, so in that sense it moves the franchise forward very little.