Angry Birds Star Wars was highly praised last year, as Rovio and Lucasfilm managed to merge both universes sans any creative compromises. Angry Birds Star Wars II comes forth with huge pressure to continue the franchise's prodigious momentum. Though it's a given this app will be bring in even more financial success to both parties, is the Force truly with our feathered heroes? Or have these birds finally crash landed into the Dark Side of complacency?

Angry Birds Star Wars II immediately puts you into the adventure without any elaborate visual preamble or excessive tutorial. All you need is the brains, and a willing finger to slingshot your birds into harm's way to defeat the Pork Federation. As they fly mid-air to take out their enemies, some of these soldiers will either break out a lightsaber or use the Force. The less warriors employed during your mission, the higher your score, which leads to more stars. Since this Jedi's attack occurs during one of the earlier stages, let's call him a padawan who's ready for battle. Sadly, he doesn't really do a great job and I need the rest of my crew to finish the job.

Credit goes to Rovio for giving gamers the ability to engage Padme, Anakin Episode 1, and Captain Panaka early in our adventures. They are just several of 30+ characters that can either be unlocked or purchased throughout our missions, but giving us a taste of some of these heroes within minutes of playing is a total win for both sides. Even though I have a bunch of these upgraded birds at my disposal, I attempt to finish my mission with three padawans who use the force as their weapon of choice. I'm very frugal with my power ups and bird upgrades!

Star Wars' transcendence originates with our own understanding of human nature's duality, and if there is a force that wills us to good, there is also a darkness that pervades the land. Getting the chance to join the Pork Side and spread evil (and obliterate a few birds in the process), brings an added depth to the franchise, and it's an addition that propels a first rate experience into stratospheric heights. Will I join the Pork Side and play as Darth Sidious or even General Grievous? Only when pigs fly!!

As much as I appreciate Luke Skywalker's quest for truth, Star Wars has always been, at least for me, the story of Anakin's fall from grace. So on a visceral level, getting the chance to flip the Angry Birds script and go evil, even if it's just for a spell, is a total guilty (if not sociopathic), pleasure. Choosing the Dark Side usually leads to a less sunnier puzzle as well, so if you love your fights in a blackened galaxy aboard an ominous craft, drop those vegan habits and pork yourself out.

The genius behind Angry Birds Star Wars II is it exists as an app that you can play for a few minutes or, if time permits, play as a beautifully rendered world that can live within your mind for hours on end. Want to solve an intricately designed puzzle by flinging your bird across the sky while waiting for your coffee? Done. Need to immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe and rack up the title's 67 Game Center achievements? Lie back on your couch, call in sick for work, and let those feuding piggies and birds manage your day. If my finger gets tired, I'll just stare at the pretty pictures.

Angry Birds Star Wars II covers all its bases and hits an iOS home run. Tablet and smart phone gaming may be dismissed by die hard PC and console loyalists, but when apps continue to give players a three dimensional experience within the touch of their fingertips, it's harder to hang on to antiquated beliefs. Rovio and Lucasfilm continue to display that the Force, no matter which path we choose, is stronger when a few birds lead the way.


App Store Link: Angry Birds Star Wars II for iPhone & iPad | By Rovio | Price: $0.99 | Version: 1.0.1 | 44.3 MB | Rating: 4+