Poultry & Pork In A Can

HIGH The high-speed ice cave chase.

LOW Seriously, who has four DS controllers?

WTF Wait, how does that crown fit both a pig and a whale?

Having only ever played Angry Birds: Star Wars, I will admit to a degree of surprise when I discovered that the titular animals had branched out of artillery and into other genres. Rather than a CastleStorm-style VR take on their standard ‘launch a bird into a stack of objects’ gameplay, ABTM2VR is co-op time management built for the whole family to enjoy at once — but woe to anyone without four controllers to go along with their PSVR helmet.

I haven’t seen the film this game is based on, but after the unskippable trailer and a brief clip that launches the story mode, apparently pigs and birds have teamed up to take down some eagles? ABTM2VR takes place as the birds and pigs travel in a pig-themed submarine (hogmarine?) to the island of eagles. Since it’s a long journey, they decide to gather some treasure from the sea floor along the way and also track down a crown that the king of the pigs wants atop his head.

Designed solely with co-op in mind, ABTM2VR is a well-built asymmetrical experience. The VR player controls a pig operating a magnetic cannon that moves basic crates, works an incinerator, and fires the suction cups and torpedoes that gather treasure and destroy obstacles blocking the sub’s path.

Up to three other players control the birds, who run around the engine room of the sub while crafting weapons, moving treasure onto storage spaces, and throwing dangerous trash into the incinerator. Every new level offers a new, increasingly complex layout for the engine room, and coordination becomes key — everything must be repaired and delivered to the right spots as the captain focuses on gathering as much loot as possible.

The ABTM2VR‘s difficulty is essentially determined by how many players are co-operating to get things done. If three players (as the birds) are there to load weapons and secure treasure, it’s a breeze. However, things get more frantic and tense as the number of players drops, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that needs to be done at any moment.

Playing the game solo is nigh-impossible — the PSVR player is asked to swap back and forth between operating the cannon and directly controlling a single bird, and while it’s possible to get through the story mode, achieving anything but the minimum score requires live human assistance. Attempting the wealth of post-story challenge levels solo? A fool’s errand.

It’s a shame that the devs didn’t make ABTM2VR accessible for a single player, though — even a single, computer-controlled bird to perform simple tasks would have been a great help. I’m sure time was saved by not programming any AI in, but it does drastically limit the appeal.

In terms of production values, ABTM2VR is a success. The birds and pigs are cute and have the mildly humorous body language one expects from such broadly-sketched characters. The undersea levels (which only the VR player can see through a ‘porthole’) have a pleasant, cartoony roundness to them. It’s all so utterly kid-friendly that instead of skulls, the sunken pirate chests have smiley faces on them.

When a group gathers around to play ABTM2VR, it’s a great party experience. Coordinating who’s going to take on each task as things constantly pile up is a hectic experience, but it’s extremely satisfying when it all clicks. Asan asymmetrical VR puzzle game, Angry Birds The Movie 2 is a definite success only held back only by the fact that unless four people are actually in the room to play, the party won’t be as lively as it should be.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by XR Games in association with Rovio and Sony Entertainment. It is currently available on PSVR. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4 Pro. Approximately 1 hour of play was devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed3 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains Comic Mischief. The only thing close to violence in the game is the way the birds fly across the room if they’re too close to an explosion. It’s totally safe for all ages.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played much of the game without sound and had no trouble. That said, if someone hard-of-hearing is playing the VR role, then the game will be a little more difficult in co-op since it will be tough to coordinate actions with the bird players.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. Both the VR and TV sections of the game are controlled with DS4s. The VR player uses the R2 trigger to operate the magnet cannon and the X button to push buttons or fire weapons. The TV players move their birds with the left thumbstick, interact with objects using square, and jump with X.

Daniel Weissenberger
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