Angry Birds has come a long way since its humble beginnings and now, there's a VR game based on the movie that's a sequel to the original film which is inspired by the game franchise. Wow, my head hurts already!
I love co-op games and The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure features an interesting premise in that one player uses the VR headset and up to 3 other players control little chums on the TV screen. The basic gameplay takes place in a submarine where the VR player launches plungers and torpedoes in order to retrieve treasure and destroy blockades while the other players scramble around performing various tasks. For example, they'll have to assemble and equip plungers and torpedoes, incinerate garbage and TNT blocks, and place treasure blocks on the appropriate tiles in order to earn points. Meanwhile, the VR player can help out by using a magnet which can pick up and launch certain blocks as well as the other players. There's more to it than this, however, as these are merely the basics but needless to say, it's highly enjoyable stuff that'll have you and your friends frantically try and maximize your score in each stage.
Before discussing the gameplay in more depth, I must say that I'm very impressed with Under Pressure's graphics and sound. As soon as you boot the game up, a lengthy trailer for the film plays which made me want to see it so it's unfortunate that it's no longer playing in theatres. When the actual game starts, it's great to see that the in-game visuals match the film rather well. On top of that, the lighthearted music is charming and the odd character vocalizations will put a smile on your face. That being said, one character cries whenever she gets hurt and it made me feel sad for the little chum. Poor green piggy... but, what are you gonna do?
Anyhoo, The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure's main campaign consists of 9 stages plus a tutorial level and although that seems short, it's full of variety and surprisingly challenging so you'll end up attempting a few of the later levels at least a handful of times before passing them. Additionally, you can earn up to 3 stars on each stage so trying to get them all will take a lot of practice, patience, and skill. After all that, there are 21 bonus stages to master and some of them offer over-the-top scenarios that'll get your heart racing.
Speaking of variety, you'll encounter many different mechanics as you progress through the stages. For starters, having to combine bronze treasures for silver and silver for gold in order to maximize your score adds a welcome layer of strategy while ensuring that the deck is clear of garbage awards you by not deducting from your score when you're done a stage. One level will even have you chase a shark and you'll have to incinerate certain blocks so you can boost ahead and catch up to it. Oh, and one of the most challenging stages has a divider in the middle which forces the VR player to constantly pick up their friends to launch them to the other side.
Even though I enjoyed The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure a great deal and highly recommend it for PSVR owners who have folks to enjoy it with, it does have 2 substantial flaws. First, playing by yourself forces you to swap between 2 characters which makes the gameplay ridiculously challenging while playing with 4 players makes everything become much easier. Therefore, I wish that AI-controlled allies could fill in any empty slots. Instead, you're basically rewarded according to how many players there are.
Finally, although you're presented with some helpful tips and useful tutorials, there simply aren't enough of them. For example, we had no idea that you could throw blocks which may have been an oversight on our behalf and once we figured out that we could, things became a lot easier. Also, the tutorial for firing torpedoes misses the fact that you have to be aiming at the torpedo in order to explode it. As a result, I kept tapping X to blow it up but nothing was happening because I wasn't aiming directly at it. I also wish that it displayed the unlock conditions for the level groups because we completed every single available stage yet still have more to unlock. Do we need more stars? Are they DLC levels? Why not just display what I need to do to unlock them? It makes no sense.
Although it may look like a kid's game, The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure is one challenging and rewarding co-op VR experience that'll keep you and a few friends on the edge of your seats.
- + Impressively challenging co-op gameplay that rewards strategy and communication
- + Delightful visuals and sound
- + Lots of variety and fun mechanics
- - No AI-controlled allies makes having fewer players much more challenging
- - Could use more thorough instructions and useful information