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The very first Angry Birds game was launched in December 2009. Since then, it has collected over 100 million downloads in the Google Play Store and currently holds almost 3 million 5-star reviews. This application is off the charts and continues to be one of the most entertaining casual games around, but we do have to say a successor was due after 6 years.

We have seen plenty of other Angry Birds iterations, but those were really just themed titles. Additional releases included Angry Birds Seasons, Space, Star Wars, Star Wars 2, Epic, Transformers, GO, Friends and even VR. But what about the true successor to Angry Birds? We finally saw it hit the Google Play Store last July 30th! It is plainly named Angry Birds 2 and I have taken the time (likely too much) to play around with it and gather my opinions on the game.

Is Angry Birds 2 a worthy successor to what could be the most popular mobile game in existence? We at least know it will probably be as popular, as it has been downloaded over 10 million times since its inception, last week. It definitely has its pros and cons, though, so let’s dig into the details.

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Gameplay

You have played Angry Birds before, right? If you answered “no”, you really need to get out of that rock you are living under. The game is very similar to what we have seen from Angry Birds titles in the past. Those annoying green pigs are back at it, taking all your eggs for themselves. Your goal is to recover these unborn birds by flinging fowl at structures and oddly colored swine. Just take them on before running out of birds.

Your score will be based on performance (birds used and structure destruction), which, in turn, determines how many stars you receive (limit is 3). It’s also possible to unlock spells and easily beat any stage.

As with the previous iteration, each bird has its specific characteristics and abilities, which can be triggered by tapping on the screen when the bird is in mid flight. The red bird sends a blow to anything in front of it, the smaller blue bird splits into three, the white one throws an egg bomb, the yellow one can fly faster and the new gray character can fly drop straight down and smash its opponents.

There are 240 stages to play, so you won’t exactly run out of fun, especially considering there is now the addition of the Arena, in which you can play for as long as your birds will last you. Users can then compare high scores with friends and see who is the true king of the perch.

Angry Birds vs Angry Birds 2

You have probably figured out some of the differences in the new Angry Birds iteration just by playing it or watching some of the trailers. There’s quite a bit, though, so we thought it would be important to touch on them so you know what you are getting into.

Choosing bird order

Every time you start a stage, you will be given the ability to use all available birds. These will show up as cards in the lower-left corner. The real kicker here is that Rovio is no longer choosing which bird you use first and which after. The user now gets the freedom to pick which bird to use at any given fling.

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Each stage has levels

Instead of playing only one scenario, Angry Birds 2 has multiple levels within each single stage. There’s usually 2-4 areas per stage, all with different structures and pigs. This makes it imperative that you choose your birds intelligently and form a good strategy. You don’t want to run out of birds before reaching other areas of the stage.

Red bird has an ability!

While we are used to seeing the red bird have no added ability, such is not the case in Angry Birds 2. The lead protagonist now emits a blow (or shock waves?) that will blast anything in front of it.

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The new gray bird

Some say it’s silver, some say it’s gray, but whatever color you prefer to call it, one thing is for sure – this bird is awesome. Just send it flying in any direction and tap on the screen when you want it to swoop around and drop downward, smashing anything on its way.

Spells!

The original Angry Birds did something similar with the “Mighty Eagle”, which allowed users to obliterate all green pigs whenever things got tough. The new spells are certainly not all as powerful, but they can be used to give you that added advantage you need during difficult levels.

You can do things like create a rain of yellow ducks, inflate pigs, convert all blocks into ice and turn pigs into bombs. And yes, the Mighty Eagle is still around.

Bosses

Every few stages you will be presented with a boss. These larger pigs are especially harder to beat. You can’t destroy them with a single hit and will need to get creative with your surroundings. Drop bombs on them, throw boulders at it; just do what you need to do to give these tough guys some damage!

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Compete against your friends in the Arena

Angry Birds is no longer a single-player game. Rovio has added the Arena to the second iteration of the series, making gameplay much more social. The only trick is that you will have to beat the first 25 stages before unlocking this special feature.

The Arena is an endless mode you can access once a day (for free). You can play a second time if you watch a commercial. The purpose of this endless stage is to get through as many levels (or rooms) as you can, only using a limited amount of birds. You will then get a score and have it compared to other fellow players.

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Business model – cash money!

We thought this change was a bit more important, so we gave it its own section in the review. Rovio has changed things up quite a bit here. Instead of asking for a one-time payment or making the game free (with ads), the developer decided to make money by taking advantage of the addictive in-game currency system we are now so used to.

They also started doing something similar with the original Angry Birds, which allows you to buy the Mighty Eagle spell for actual money. Things are obviously a bit different this time around, though. Let’s go into detail about how it all works.

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The new Angry Birds 2 game uses gems, which are quite important. Gems can quickly become necessary, depending on the level of difficulty or amount of time you play. It’s really easy to run out of lives if you don’t finish your levels successfully, for example. This starts happening very often after levels get more difficult. Getting more lives immediately, or repeating the lost game, costs gems. Alternatively, you can wait 30 minutes to keep playing.

There are ways to get free gems, but you shouldn’t depend on them too much, because the flow of free gems slows down after some time. You can get free gems by accomplishing objectives, watching ads and competing in daily challenges. Otherwise, you will have to pay real money for them.

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Conclusion

Overall, Angry Birds 2 is a very fun game that keeps its classic essence, yet adds enough improvements to keep it fresh and lively. The game looks good, thanks to its animations and improved graphics. It also plays very well. I personally love that Rovio is giving users more choice in bird selection and strategy. And game physics are as good as they have always been.

My one gripe is the new monetary system. Relying on in-game currency and limited lives is no surprise, as that is the proven way to make more money. But as a heavy user, I do feel like it crosses that line where it starts breaking my experience, especially when trying to binge fling past all these levels in one sitting. I personally would have much rather dealt with a larger one-time charge.

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With that said, you probably won’t find any annoyances if you are truly a casual gamer. This system is great for those who play sporadically, in shorter sessions. If you are patient, you can get through the whole game without spending a dime. The one upside is that Angry Birds 2 is completely free to download and play, so it costs you nothing to go ahead and try it for yourself!

Give it a go and let us know what you think of the game in the comments below. Do you like the improvements? Where you hoping to see more changes? Do you like the new business model?

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