by Chris Priestman
reviewed on X360
Ye Olde Pinball
Pinball has long been a part of the history of games and has always provided a competitive and easy-to-play experience. With the advent of video games it was somewhat demoted, but the nineties did see some successful electronic translations. Titles such as Dragon’s Fury Pinball and Sonic Spinball took pinball to a new level by replacing the table with a whole level-based game with enemies to defeat, treasures to collect and bosses to battle.
Zen Studios’ release of Pinball FX in 2007 tried to take pinball into modern gaming but was met with bad reviews. With the sequel, the studio promises a better experience this time around with a new improved ball physics engine making for a more enjoyable experience.
A ‘Real’ Experience
A hot topic amongst gamers is the idea of ‘realism.’ Most games try to adhere to realism in some form or another, whether it be in physics, the audio-visual experience or historical accuracy. There are certain degrees of realism that appeal to different people though. Personally, I like realism in a game that simulates something out of the ordinary. This is why most sports games do not appeal to me, but shooters do. This is also the reason why the idea of a ‘realistic’ pinball experience does not have me jumping out of my seat in anticipation. That aside, I started up Pinball FX 2 with an open mind, hoping that I would at least be entertained by the original experience of pinball that has gained such popularity in arcades.
As far as the mechanics of a pinball simulator goes, those present in Pinball FX 2 are of a high quality. The ball reacts just as it should to every flipper and bumper it hits, and is a great improvement over the first game. Still, this should have been the standard in the first place. The controls are very simple, as you would hope with a pinball game, and could not be improved in any way. If you are considering buying a pinball machine for your home, then you are just as well off buying Pinball FX 2. The presentation makes for a realistic experience with all the flashing lights, moving gizmos and most importantly, the authentic sounds of a pinball machine. There really are no faults on this side of the game as it is what it sets out be – a very accurate and realistic pinball machine, and for a lot cheaper than you could buy a real wood and metal one for. Plus, you can think of all the space you are saving.
A Tilt Too Far
The tables you can play on in the game are a little more than just plain recreations of a real pinball machine. Each comes with a theme and has several interactive parts that react when the ball comes into contact with them – pretty standard stuff, as far as I am aware. Keeping with its authentic nature, the machines are somewhat lacking originality or anything that exciting to make you want to play them more than a few times. The only things that stood out were a few little gimmicks such as creating a creature in the Biolabs machine and being shot out of a cannon in the Buccaneer’s machine. There are a couple of mini games on the tables in which you are challenged to shoot a target or dodge rocks in a submarine, but these are very short and only serve as more gimmicks. After a couple of plays on the few machines, inevitably the mild delight of each gimmick wears thin.
Accurate physics engine and improved graphics make for an unbeatable pinball simulator, online capabilities will delight pinball enthusiasts.
Too expensive, most of the tables lose interest quite quickly, limited appeal.