Angry Birds Space review: A fresh new fling

Have you grown bored with the Birds? Me, too. But Angry Birds Space is outta this world, both literally and figuratively.

Angry Birds Space looks gorgeous and delivers on its promise of compelling new gameplay.
Angry Birds Space looks gorgeous and delivers on its promise of compelling new gameplay. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

I'll be honest: I haven't flung a bird at a pig in months.

When Angry Birds first flew on the scene (way back in 2009!), I couldn't get enough. But as with most things, the novelty soon wore off. Even Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio were just variations on the same theme, and I eventually stopped paying attention--even when Rovio pushed out new levels.

So when the developer announced Angry Birds Space last month , I had to wonder: would pigs in space rekindle my love affair with slingshots and ornithology?

Today I found out. Angry Birds Space is now available for Android, iOS, PC, and Mac. Is it any good?

Oh, yes.

Angry Birds Space feels at once familiar and fresh. Unlike the previous sequels, which were pretty much the same game in different settings, ABS puts a new spin on things with gravity-oriented physics.

Thus, a flung bird might curve around a moon in one direction and then curve the other way once it passes into the next moon's orbit. Or it might get caught in a gravity well and whip around the moon several times before hitting anything. Sometimes you'll need to fling a bird below a target instead of above it, or even fling it left instead of right. (Both actions feel really weird at first.) And sometimes the goal is not simply to smash into a pig, but to knock it out of a high orbit so it crashes to the surface.

You learn all this as you play through the game's 60 levels, and it's that discovery that makes ABS such fun. What's more, Rovio throws in a few surprises along the way. [Mild spoiler alert] For example, if you bust a camouflaged "golden eggsteroid" midlevel, you'll be instantly transported (via wormhole, of course) to a separate mini-game. The first of these is an unapologetic and amusing nod to Space Invaders, where instead of shooting at aliens, you're flinging birds at them.

Once that mini-game ends, you're wormholed back to where you left off in the original level.

I don't want to spoil any of the other goodies. Suffice it to say, you'll have a hard time putting ABS down, and I suspect most players will burn through all 60 levels in a day or two. Thankfully, Rovio says it has "more in the pipeline." If history is any indication, we'll see new levels on a regular basis.

By the way, I played the HD version on my new iPad, and it looks spectacular--well worth the $2.99 price of admission. The non-HD version costs 99 cents, also a no-brainer. Same goes for the Android versions (phone or tablet), though you can also get ad-supported editions for free.

Once you've had a chance to try the game yourself, hit the comments and let me know what you think.

 

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