Are they angry, or are they friendly? I guess the two aren’t mutually exclusive, as demonstrated in today’s featured game for the Wednesday Google Play update: Angry Birds Friends, another healthy dose of pig-smashery from the rascals at Rovio. It’s a new title that easily lends itself to a quick try, since it’s free, and it adds plenty of twists and turns to the Angry Birds formula that, by now, needs no introduction or explanation. You will still be pulling back on slingshots to fling birds at pigs in ramshackle fortresses; that has not changed. The twist, this time, is not that the birds have made friends with the pigs, but rather that you, and your friends, have made friends with the birds, and all of you are competing in weekly tournaments to see who’s the best at avian demolition.
Angry Birds Friends starts up by having you sign in through Facebook, and like any social game of our times, cleverly populates the weekly leaderboard with all of your friends who are playing (along with a couple of bird-brained AI to fill out the ranks). You’re then presented with half a dozen or so levels for the week, and challenged to complete them as best you can; you’ll then be ranked on a leaderboard for each available level, plus an overall track for who’s got the highest total score. Angry Birds Friends, then, bases its replayability on a game of perpetual oneupsmanship, where your impressive score is only atop the charts for as long as your friends will allow it. A competitive contemporary will find a way to line up a better shot and finish the level more elegantly, and then it’s off to the races to retake the winner’s circle before the week ends.
The familiar lineup of Angry Birds is in full attendance here, functioning like they always do — big blunt red, split-apart blue, exploding black, and all the rest — plus, of course, some new faces and new powerups to give them the edge. An orange bird joins the ranks, whose specialty is swelling to ten times his ordinary size for a moment, like some sort of blowfish bird — a blowbird? — knocking away obstacles, planks, and pigs. Five powerups are also available — a laser-guided slingshot for perfect aiming, a hardier slingshot for faster and further launches, birdseed to boost the size of your birds, and an earthquake to upset any pigs that may be just teetering right on the edge oh come on why won’t you just fall?! Finally, there’s Wingman, an on-demand version of the “Big Brother” red bird who is able to plow through planks like nobody’s business.
These extras will cost you bird coins, which you can win a handful at a time by playing and winning the tournaments, or by indulging in a microtransaction or two. Apart from that, Angry Birds Friends is a fun and free social slant on the original mobile hit, allowing you to tweet your success and crow your triumph from the rooftops.