Updated: Angry Birds Review

A major content update for Angry Birds adds 40+ new levels (easily another hour or two for most players) and Chillingo’s Crystal social gaming network. Is it enough for us to bump this game to Must Have status?

Yes, it is. The new stages are very clever, with some structures arranged in the shape of trains or pyramids. Plus, the online achievements give you a real reason to go back and try to maximize your score. We still ran into the occasional strange physics that would affect our score, but Angry Birds is so quick and easy to replay that we just kept coming back for more.

This is a charming physics puzzler that is incredibly easy to get into. For a buck, you’ll have over 100 puzzles and online achievements through Crystal. After this update, it’s a definite Must Have.

Most casual news-watchers are familiar with bombs with names like Bunker Busters and Daisy Cutters. However, we were surprised to learn that multicolored chickens, when pushed to the limits by egg-stealing green pigs, can take on the properties of these same missiles.

Explosive chickens, adorable as they are, would be pointless without some cool structures to topple, and Angry Birds provides a generous 63 of them. Everything from stone castles to glass houses can be thoroughly demolished, with the egg-stealing pigs squashed inside.

You simply load up a chicken in your slingshot, pull back while setting your angle, and let go to relish in the destructive delight. It’s incredibly easy to understand the concept within seconds, and the visual payoff is consistently impressive. Blue chickens split up in mid-air for a spread effect, heavy bomb chickens will explode and send structures flying, and egg-laying hens will let you deliver a yolky payload directly below.

You’re always given the chickens in a particular order, which does diminish some of the strategy. For example, you can’t choose to soften up the stone exterior with a burrowing hen, and then blast out the walls with a ticking explosive chicken, if that’s not what’s available. You’re completely dependent on the particular tools you’re given, in a predetermined order.

Also, while you might fling your chickens in the same spot each time, the sensitive physics will usually have different results. It’s generally impossible to recreate specific trajectories and reactions, and this usually means obtaining a high score (and a full three-star rating) is a matter of luck and not skill. Besides, we didn’t see any tangible benefit to completing every mission with a three-star score, since it’s all offline and all you seem to gain is the title of “chicken champion”.

These are minor problems, and most of the time you won’t notice as you’ll be too busy trying to squish pigs and make full use of your chicken arsenal. So much about this game, from the “weapons” to the physics and level variety, is really quite excellent. If you’ve got even one destructive bone in your body, we think this military-farm-complex will be fun for you.

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