With the huge popularity the Angry Birds have been enjoying the past few years, it’s not so surprising to see them appearing in many different games.
Release a kart racing game seemed like the natural choice for Rovio, considering how successful are games like the Mario Kart series and its many clones. They may not be the most original games around, to be honest, but they still manage to provide good hours of fun.
Unfortunately Rovio missed an opportunity with Angry Birds Go, releasing a game that’s really damaged by the free to play mechanics.
As soon as you start the game, you are only able to use one racer, the red bird and one car. By playing the game and winning races you will be able to earn cash to buy new vehicles and upgrade already bought ones. Extra characters are unlocked by winning special boss races, where you’ll race against another character of the Angry Birds universe. Win these races three times and the boss will become playable.
The game is actually quite varied, thanks to the good track design and the different objectives to clear during the races. Sometimes you will have to complete time trails, destroy a certain amount of objects. Controls are also quite responsive, with the option to use either touch or tilt controls. The physics also feel really good, making the game quite fun to play… until you start noticing some of the game’s evident issues.
The racing experience, which is quite good as you might have noticed, is dragged down by the game progression and free to play mechanics. The game is quite grindy, requring you to constantly upgrade cars. If this involved just replaying previous races, it wouldn’t have been a big problem – plenty of other racing games on iOS have similar mechanics.
The main problem of Angry Birds GO! is the energy system which limits how much you can play. Each character has five units of energy, which deplete the more you race. After the energy has been depleted, you will not be able to play until at least one unit has been recharged. Unlocking more characters will make this less of a problem, that’s true, but it’s incredibly frustrating in the early stages when you can only use the red bird.
Acquiring new cars is another of the game’s problems. While it’s true that there are plenty of vehicles that can be bought with in game money, the better cars can only be acquired by purchasing the Angry Birds Go figures. Another huge limitation and potential source of frustration if you have no intention of buying them and only use the cars available in the game.
Angry Birds Go seems like a really good game in the first few minutes. Controls are responsive, graphics are good and the races are quite varied. The free to play mechanics combined with the excessive grinding, however, drag the whole experience down, imposing so many limitations that the game will hardly feel fun as it does in the first few minutes.