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Space: a new angry frontier

Unlike the previous sequels, which were pretty much the same game in different settings, Angry Birds Space puts a new spin on things with gravity-oriented physics, new obstacles to navigate, and bonus levels that add to the fun.

Angry Birds Space feels at once familiar and fresh. Unlike the previous sequels, which were pretty much the same game in different settings, Angry Birds Space puts a new spin on things with gravity-oriented physics, new obstacles to navigate, and bonus levels that add to the fun.

The gravitational mechanic in many of the levels adds a completely new element to how you approach each level. A flung bird might curve around a moon in one direction and then curve the other way once it passes into the next moon's orbit. It can also get caught in a gravity well and whip around the moon several times before hitting anything. Sometimes you'll need to fling a bird in the opposite direction (counterclockwise, for example) around a moon in order to hit a target instead of what seems like the most direct route because of other obstacles. Other times you'll need to fling an exploding bird and have it explode near a rock that will go careening into your target. Sometimes the goal is not simply to smash into a pig, but to knock it out of a high orbit so it crashes to the surface.

You learn all these tricks as you play through the game's more than 60 levels, and it's that feeling of discovery that makes Angry Birds Space such fun. What's more, Rovio throws in a few surprises along the way. [Mild spoiler alert] For example, if you break a camouflaged "golden eggsteroid" midlevel, you'll be instantly transported (via wormhole) to a separate mini-game. The first of these is an unapologetic and amusing nod to Space Invaders, where instead of shooting at aliens, you're flinging birds at them.

Once the mini-game ends, you're wormholed back to where you left off in the original level.

There are plenty of other goodies, but I don't want to ruin all the surprises. Suffice it to say, you'll have a hard time putting Angry Birds Space down, and I suspect most serious players will burn through all 60 levels in a day or two. Fortunately, Rovio says it has "more in the pipeline." If history is any indication, we'll see new levels on a regular basis and eventually new level packs.

Angry Birds Space comes in a version for the smaller screens on the iPhone and iPod Touch (99 cents) and an HD version ($2.99) for larger iPad screen. The same is true for the Android versions (same pricing) with one for phone screens and one for tablets. Anyone who liked the original Angry Birds games or just wants a well-thought-out artillery type of game will love Angry Birds Space.

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