Angry Birds Epic throws the world's most popular birds into medieval combat in this RPG battle game. It's an interesting departure for Angry Birds, but does it really bring anything new to a well-trodden game genre?
From catapults to swords
Angry Birds is a game franchise which is expanding much further than a piece of catapult elastic. What started out as a basic bird-hurling physics game in the original Angry Birds became more elaborate with Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars.
But Rovio is expanding the game universe even further, by diversifying into other game genres. It started with the kart-game romp, Angry Birds Go! and now, in Angry Birds Epic the characters make the leap into the turn-based RPG combat world.
Final Fantasy with feathers
In Angry Birds Epic you take control of the famous birds, who must overcome all manner of nasty piggies in a medieval-themed adventure.
In order to progress through each level in Angry Birds Epic you'll need to tool yourself up with weapons and armor, use magic potions, and upgrade your bird to become an ultimate warrior. There's a crafting system, whereby you can make weapons and armor with items you collect during the game. Likewise, there are alchemy and potion-mixing sections for concocting things that can help you defeat your foes. You should concentrate on upgrading your characters as you go.
Fighting in Angry Birds Epic is turn-based, using a similar dynamic as games like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or Pokémon. That's to say, just one character can act at a time, choosing to attack, defend, use a special power, apply a potion, etc.
The battle gameplay is fun, but I felt more attention could have gone into the story of the game. The soft-launched Angry Birds Epic definitely feels like a series of battles have been stitched together loosely in the attempt of making a story, rather than an engrossing adventure where the plot keeps you battling on to find out what will happen next.
Inevitably, it reaches the stage where 'grinding' (replaying levels again and again) is necessary to progress in order to have the right resources to craft items, the right materials for making health potions, and getting armor strong enough to withstand the increasingly mean and grumpy opposition.
As yet there are no online multiplayer modes in Angry Birds Epic and, surprisingly for a Rovio game, there's little Facebook or social integration.
Is it easy to play?
If you haven't played turn-based RPGs before, Angry Birds Epic could be a good place to start. It's got a gentle learning curve, and you can feel your way around the controls and the gameplay system in the first few levels without really running the risk of dying.
Actions in Angry Birds Epic are explained in a subtle way with hand icons that explain what to do. This goes for everything from combat to crafting and purchasing items from the shop.
Angry Birds Epic lives up to the quality values of the Angry Birds brand: it's slick looking, humorous, and a bit crazy. The characters have been beautifully integrated into the medieval setting, with their personalities shining through the armor and medieval get-up they wear. Most of your favorites from Angry Birds games of hold are here, plus lots of new characters, especially piggies.
The grunts, giggles, and groans of pigs and birds that accompany the combat are in keeping with the previous Angry Birds games. This will delight or irritate you - depending on your opinion of the game series as a whole.
Die-hard fans will be pleased to hear that Angry Birds Epic includes a cinema section, where you can check out the latest Toons.tv movies starring the Angry Birds and other characters.
A twist in the tail
Turn-based RPG fans may find Angry Birds Epic a bit simplistic and lacking in depth as an adventure. However, for fans of Rovio's hacked-off avians, the game represents a refreshing new setting in which to enjoy their favorite characters.