Angry Birds is a series of games that needs no introduction at all. Starting life as a 69p application on the iPhone AppStore, it quickly grew in popularity as hundreds of levels were freely added before the developers moved on to spin-offs, different genres, and the heavily monetised Angry Birds 2; it even has a TV show and a movie (with another on the way)! The frustrated feather-bags have now jumped over to Virtual Reality as they star in their very own VR game, Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs.
Taking advantage of real-life physics, various viewpoints, a two-handed slingshot, and pushing the PSVR to a nice clean resolution, Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs is the perfect physics-based puzzle game for all the family to enjoy. The question is, does the game perfectly replicate the experience within this new medium or was the jump to VR a bad decision? Let’s find out…
We all know the story of Angry Birds – yes, there’s a story! The evil Green Pigs have stolen your eggs (as you’re a bird) and are holding them captive within their ginormous decapitated pig head-shaped balloon which hovers around the island. It’s up to you, an invisible giant, to whip out your slingshot, grab hold of the local ‘bird-bullets’ and fire them towards the Pig’s Jenga-esque structures in hopes of slaughtering them all. Only once you’ve made bacon out of all of the sneaky swines can you reclaim your pre-young and celebrate the genocide of the pig race!
Okay, maybe the story isn’t as dark as that, within the game itself there isn’t actually any story as it’s just a list of various puzzles for you to compete within, but you get the general gist of the narrative – kill the pigs, save your eggs, then throw a party.
However, this is where the first issue arose for me. Currently, there are four chapters, each containing thirteen levels for you to work your way through (twelve standard levels and one ‘boss’ level). This equals 52 levels in total – it may seem like a lot but I was able to work my way through them all within less than two hours. However, the store page does say “in 50+ fun-filled levels (and more to come!)”, so it appears we may be getting some more levels in the future – although I’m not sure if that means via paid DLC or a free update like we’ve seen with 18 Floors recently. Either way, today I’ll be looking at the base content and I’ll look at the additional levels if/when they are added to the game.
Angry Video Game
When I first got Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs, I wasn’t sure how it would play out – would it be a game with a static slingshot where you just pull back and fire off birds, will it adopt a brand new style, or will it simply re-create the original game but from side-on? It’s actually a mixture of all three. As an invisible giant (yeah, I don’t know why either), you use dual Move Controllers in order to hold your slingshot in one hand and pull back your ticked-off bird-bullets with the other. Just like the mobile game, you get a nice handy guideline of where the bird should make an impact upon releasing, thus making the game rather easy.
Your goal, just like all previous incarnations of this format, is to topple the precariously placed structures in order to either have the pigs fall to the ground, shoot off into space, blow to smithereens, or simply get crushed to death by falling debris. As an extra bit of help, the game allows you to change your viewpoint – as we’re dealing with Virtual reality now! So, if you’re unable to spot the perfect shot from where you are placed by default (even though you can actually physically readjust yourself to a certain degree), then you can click on various other viewpoints around the topple-tower.
Your goal is to simply eliminate everyone before running out of bird-brain volunteer pellets, but if you want to obtain the elusive three stars then you need to take out everyone with one shot, whilst also causing as much damage as possible. Thankfully, this is helped by the fact that pushing the Move button and selecting restart takes literally a few seconds in order to retry the level again. So you don’t have to wait too long in order to give it another ‘shot’.
As this is Angry Birds, what feathery friends do we get to send to their doom? Unfortunately, there isn’t a wide variety within this initial outing. Each bird, other than the Red Bird, has its own special ability which can be activated by pulling the T-button on the controller after you’ve shot it via the slingshot – here are the birds you’ll get to play with…
Yellow Bird: Once they’ve been fired, you can activate their rush-attack. This causes the bird to go supersonic and zoom towards their target at lightning speeds, defying the natural dip you’d usually get when firing projectiles.
Black Bird: This big, fat bird is a disaster waiting to happen! He’s obviously eaten one too many worms as he can literally self-combust and explode upon command, causing even the strongest of brick structures to give-way and come tumbling to the ground!
Blue Bird(s): The Blue Bird isn’t one, but three birds all squished together – somehow. After they’ve been let loose into the air, activating their special ability causes the single projectile to split into a trio of brother birds, all with one goal in mind – headbutt anything they come into contact with!
Each chapter is basically adapted for the types of destruction each bird can do – Wood, Stone and ice respectively – with the final chapter combining all three elements as well as giving you a selection of all four bird-types.
VR Mode opinion
I didn’t think I would be saying this but Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs looks absolutely amazing in VR. The developers, Resolution Games, have clearly put a lot of time and effort into creating each of the environments you play in as well as a lot of small details as you look around. The birds line up on a diving board-like platform, which has a ‘wait behind the line’ waypoint, and the birds themselves appear to be modelled off the anthropomorphic Angry Birds Movie characters rather than the original game – they have bodies and arms/legs rather than just being a sphere-like shape. You can clearly make out the text within the game, the birds all have their own personalities as they await death, and even the one loaded in the slingshot will turn and wave to you if you’re taking your time.
It’s small things like this that changes the game from a puzzle that’s been placed within VR into a living world where you’re the guest. The Protagonists (if you can call them that) aren’t the only living beings, the pigs also have their own personalities as they mock you when you miss them, dance around, sunbathe, and generally act really annoying – as you’d expect.
What I loved was when I killed one of my birds, as it smashed its head into one of the foundation pieces, then a pig started laughing at me for missing them. However, I spotted a block slowly sliding off the platform above. This came crashing down and clobbered the pig on the head, putting an end to its mockery! Serves them right!
The environment is filled with bright and colourful scenery and various things to look at, although you can’t interact with anything and there doesn’t appear to be any secrets for you to shoot at or find outside of the hog house in the centre of the arena. I feel the developers missed out here – there have been mobile games in the series where they hid golden eggs out of bounds which unlocked bonus missions, this would have been a great addition to the game as it would have forced you to think outside the box and look around for hidden items.
Tracking worked perfectly, I always felt in control and thanks to the generic nature of the Move Controllers (as they are both identical), you can play the game left or right-handed. I’ve looked on the Steam forums and the PC version has an option to pick what hand you use as some of the PC VR controllers aren’t ambidextrous.
What’s left to say about the technical side? The game looks great, the pig’s voices sound just like I remember from the mobile game, as well as your suicidal squad of squawkers. The music though, I’m not sure where that’s come from. As the characters look more like the movie ones (a movie I’ve not watched), maybe the music is from there? However, it’s not the tune from the original Angry Birds mobile game – which was a bit disappointing. However the game isn’t based on the original mobile game, so that’s probably why it isn’t the same!
Physics wise, everything falls as you’d expect. If you knock out supports and leave one side a little heavier than the other, it’ll gradually topple over as all the blocks on top begin to slide down the slope and come crashing to the ground. The blocks do seem to fall slower than you’d expect, making it feel like the structures have a lot of weight behind them, but that doesn’t interfere with the overall physics in place as you can easily work out which blocks you need to hit in order to cause a collapsing catastrophe.
Finally, I don’t know the resolution the game is running at but Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs looked great in VR via the PSVR headset on the PS4 Pro. Due to the levels being rather small and not that taxing on the system, I image a lot of the overhead is being used to bump up the quality of the image being sent to the screens within the headset. This leaves us with visuals that reminded me how clear games like The Exorcist VR: Legion was, and the recently released Trover Saves the Universe.
Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs is a short game, yet one of the best physics-based VR puzzle games I’ve played. It captures the thrill and enjoyment of the original Angry Birds game and perfectly replicates the concept within a Virtual Reality space for you to play with. Every single character, be it friend or foe, has it’s own personality and charm – it’s a shame that hardly anyone is left alive by the time you reach the end credits!
Created as a simple game for everyone to enjoy, Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs can be played by people of all ages, both Left and Right-handed people, people of any skill level, and those new to VR thanks to the static nature which causes no nausea at all. If you like the Angry Birds franchise, or even if you just love physics-based puzzles, then check this game out today!
Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs£11.99
- - It's Angry Birds, in Virtual Reality
- - The physics work how you'd expect, making each shot unique
- - Lots of small details which look great in VR
- - Funny personalities which makes the game more light-hearted
- - Easy controls which anyone can play (either Left or Right handedly)
- - The game isn't that long, with the base game lasting less than two hours
- - No extra features like hidden objects to find or secret bonus levels
- - Only a small selection of the Birds within the francise
- - The difficulty doesn't seem to increase that much as the game remains quite easy
- - No Platinum trophy