Impressions: Angry Birds

Seeing that I don’t have an iPhone, or iPod, iWhatever, or an Android phone, I was only recently able to try out Angry Birds when it was released on the PSP.  I can’t say that it met my expectations after all the hype I’ve read over the last year, but at the same time I find it hard to put down after I’ve gotten started with it.  It’s got a strong foundation to build on.  The game play mechanics are solid in concept: solve puzzles that require you to use a defined set of birds to fling at a protective structure and clobber the inhabiting pigs. I became frustrated pretty quickly with the execution of the game though (or at least the PSP implementation of it.)  The stickiest aspect of the experience is trying to A) figure out where to place your shots and B) figure out how to accurately make that shot.  This was probably more difficult when using the PSP analog nub, which doesn’t lend itself well to placing shots using intermediate power.  It’s generally all or nothing.  It’s really a pain to play consistently, even if you know exactly what to do.

The physics engine (which lags considerably in this version of the game) was also cause for frustration as minor differences in angle can completely change how objects tend to fall.  Since the analog nub is almost useless for aiming accurately, it can take a small miracle for you to place all the shots on target, in order.  And many times, when I completed a level, it almost felt like it was on accident.  Player skill doesn’t make a difference beyond your ability to hypothetically tell where you need to place shots to beat the level.  These issues may be limited to the PSP edition of the game, but I can imagine some of them carrying over to their iOS and Android counter-parts.  In spite of all this, I have a hard time putting it down.  I’m not necessarily having fun, but I can always envision how to beat levels and that I should be able to if I’m patient enough.  The penalties for losing are frustrating, but it’s so easy to just try it over again.  It always feels like it’s just a matter of time before the magic moment where everything falls out of place and everything comes crashing down.  It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but I can see how it’s become as popular as it is.

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