Rovio has finally launched the official sequel to Angry Birds.

We've seen several Angry Birds spin-offs over the years, but this game is different from them all. It's supposed to be the original game loaded with all-new features and other enticing elements. It's an upgrade, basically.

People have been waiting for it for well over five years, and now that it is here, Pocket-lint of course had to give it a try. So, here's our initial thoughts...

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Angry Birds 2 is beautiful. From the moment the game loaded, we noticed a major aspect of the new title is updated graphics. Every object - from the birds to the pigs - has an exquisite drawn appearance, while the backgrounds are comprised of fluid, painted-like backdrops with bits of weather effects like sunshine pouring through.

Another design element we particularly enjoyed was the new up-close corner shot of birds and pigs every time we pulled the slingshot. It's a nice animated effect that makes the act of pulling back on the sling in order to crush a green pig with your fired up bird very satisfying. The game's blocks also erupt into fireworks when they land. It's great.

Apart from the new look, Angry Birds 2 is very much like Angry Birds.

Same birds

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Only it comes with a few extra tricks - and we'll get to those in a bit. The thing to remember is that this is the same Angry Birds game you've known since 2009. It maintains the first game's original flock of birds, each with their own unique power, such as the yellow/triangle bird, which has the ability to soar faster when you tap the screen.

We have to admit that it's weird Rovio - the developer behind the Angry Birds franchise - chose not to introduce new birds with this long-awaited sequel. After all, we've seen like a dozen spin-off games by now, including Angry Birds Star Wars, but this title was suppose to take the original game, update it, and bring it into 2015.

So, why not make a new bird or two? Instead, Rovio took some elements from the spin-off games and applied them here. For instance, Angry Birds 2 now lets you use your birds in any order you want. These birds do not refill between stage screens, so you must be choosey about the ones you to fling at the pigs (though sometimes you can win a new bird - aka bird card - during stages by destroying objects and filling up the destructometer in the top-right corner).

Multi-tiered stages

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You have to use birds' unique powers to get through the new multi-tiered stages. Gone are the days of just demolishing one wave of pig obstacles, because now the game always takes you to a new part within the same stage, in which you'll have to attack more pigs. Oh, and at the beginning of each stage, you're assigned a random stack of birds.

Angry Birds 2 has many different types of stages (240, in fact). You'll have to kill every pig in order to complete a section. If you fail during your mission, you'll lose a life. You only get five lives as well. But they're on a timer and therefore refill. You can also watch adverts or use gems (more on that later) to refill your lives faster than if you waited.

Also, there's a locked Arena that offers a set of obstacles for you to compete in the leaderboards. It's like a social tie-in.

Gems, bonuses, and adverts

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Like we said, once you're out of birds while in a stage, you'll need to use the in-game currency (gems) to bring them back. Or you can watch a non-skippable advert. It's annoying, but we understand Angry Birds 2 is a free-to-play game, and Rovio still needs to make a profit on it, so we can tolerate these changes.

Gem bundles range in price (from £2.29 to £39.99). You can spend them on extra bird cards mid-stage, playing in the Arena without having to wait to unlock it, etc. If you should lose all your lives when failing to beat a stage and need to get a refill, they cost 60 gems. Hint: You'll probably end up spending most of your pricey gems on lives.

Keep in mind that every 24 hours you'll get new bonuses. Also, not only can you collect or buy or earn things (like gems and new bird cards), but you'll also be able to purchase bonuses.

Boss battles


Angry Birds 2 is the first game in the Angry Birds franchise to feature something called boss battles. These pit you against a really big pig every few stages (at the end). You must hit it with your birds to deplete its health, and then you have to smash it with objects from your surrounding enviroment to put it down for good.

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Angry Birds 2 is the first game in the Angry Birds franchise to feature something called boss battles. These pit you against a really big pig every few stages (at the end). You must hit it with your birds to deplete its health, and then you have to smash it with objects from your surrounding enviroment to put it down for good.

Spells

To make things more interesting, and to help you get through the new challenges, Angry Birds 2 has added spells. These are unlockable items that help you during a stage. One, for instance, lets you pummel pigs with golden ducks.

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Angry Birds 2 is a free-to-play game, so that means you have to spend money within the game at some point. We miss the one-time purchase aspect of the first Angry Birds, to be honest.

But all that aside, Angry Birds 2 is basically the same thing but slightly different. It's a physics-puzzle action game with updated graphics and new gameplay tricks. We had a lot of fun playing with the new title, though we couldn't help but think: "That's it?" Still, it's a gorgeous game and ridiculously addicting (as all Angry Birds titles are).

So if you're looking for a new game to play, we can't think of a reason why not to try Angry Birds 2.

After all, it's free (almost).