Crikey, the Angry Birds franchise is going to be 10 years old this year! How time flies and other assorted bird puns...
In the past, the Angry Birds have spread their wings and hung out in the Star Wars Universe, they've starred in their very own Hollywood movie and they've even opened a theme park or two. That's why it's rather surprising that, aside from some fan made mods and prototypes, Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs is the first time the burbs have officially made the jump to VR.
So far the game is only available on Vive and Oculus and you can watch me play through a selection of levels from the first two worlds in this week's Ian's VR Corner. Apologies in advance for the singing at the start.
Just like the many games that came before it, Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs sees you slingshotting a trio of birds at progressively more complex and wobbly structures. Hit a sweet spot and the building will come tumbling down in one go, hopefully crushing any porky inhabitants to death in the process.
The control method in Angry Birds VR is incredibly simple. Using two hand-held motion controllers from your PC platform of choice you wield a catapult in one hand and draw back the avian ammo with the other. A handy dotted line shows you the flight path of the bird so when you release it, more often than not it will strike its intended target. Whether or not that target is a weak point that'll propel you to a three star victory is up to you to work out.
Angry Birds VR is a stationary experience that's best played seated, making it an ideal starter game for VR newcomers. For anyone with a bit of VR experience however, the gameplay gets old, fast. There's a certain satisfaction that comes from watching some of the more complex structures tumble down to the ground but after that there's not much to crow about. Considering all of the incredible things I've experienced in other VR titles, sitting stock-still and pinging birds at lumps of wood over and over again quickly becomes tedious.
The cartoonish graphics are nice and sharp and they fit in well with the established art style of the movie, however little effort has been put into the making the world an interesting 3D space to inhabit. There are four different locations which change once every 13 levels but beyond that the staging ground stays the exactly the same every time. There's no hidden collectibles to find, no fun little background animations to watch and aside from firing the birds from the catapult there's no interactivity with the environments whatsoever. Bland is a good word to use to sum up the level design.
One of the wonderful things about VR is that it has enabled developers to innovate and experiment with established genres. Sadly, when given the gift of an extra dimension, Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs barely bothers to change the traditional formula of the mobile games. You do at least have the ability to teleport to one of three set positions around each level so you can fire your birds from different angles, but other than that almost nothing has been done to enrich and evolve the Angry Birds experience.
The whole concept VR is so basic it makes it difficult to understand why Rovio didn't decide to launch Isle of Pigs on mobile VR platforms like Gear and Daydream first. Surely something so simple would easily work just as well on these cheeper platforms whilst also reaching a much larger audience?
Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs is Angry Birds in VR and not much else. If you really, really love Angry Birds then you may get a kick out of this but everyone else, especially those who've played a lot of VR in the past, are going to be pretty underwhelmed.
If you enjoyed this episode of Ian's VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I've covered Sairento, Ghost Giant and Five Nights at Freddy's VR. You can also read our list of best PSVR games.