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Angry Birds Space: a fresh new fling
Angry Birds Space: a fresh new fling

When Angry Birds first flew onto 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 (AU$2.88), iPhone (AU$0.99), iPad (AU$2.99), PC and Mac. But 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.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

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 of this as you play through the game's 60 levels, and it's that discovery process that makes ABS such fun. What's more, Rovio throws in a few surprises along the way. For example (mild spoiler alert), if you bust a camouflaged "golden eggsteroid" mid-level, 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 to say, you'll have a hard time putting ABS down, and I suspect that 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.

Via CNET