As a kid, pinball tables always fascinated me. I can remember venturing into arcades, and instead of being excited by the state of the art graphics on display from the videogames, I always found my attention was drawn towards the flashing lights and mechanisms of the pinball machines. Even now, if I’m in a bar and there happens to be a pinball table in one of the dimly lit corners, it takes a lot for me to resist the urge to examine every inch of the table, trying to discover what each moving piece does and what will happen if the ball hits various places.
For this reason, I was pretty excited when I first opened up Pinball FX 2. With a wide array of tables to play on, I found before me a chance to explore multiple pinball worlds, each table different from the last, with different routes available to me to smash my way through a host of highscores. With the decline of arcades, pinball tables have increasingly moved to the virtual world, so Pinball FX 2 (released on Xbox Live Arcade) is up against some tough competition.
WHAT MAKES HIM SO GOOD?
From Soho Down To Brighton, I Must Have Played Them All – Pinball FX 2 starts off as merely a shell of a pinball game. You download the game (for free), open it up, and, if you haven’t played the previous title, you are met with a screen of ‘trial’ tables, which you can purchase at your pleasure. If you want one table, just buy one. If you want all of them (of which there are currently 13), you can buy all of them. This works very well for a pinball game. If you purchased the original Pinball FX, you can import the original tables into this sequel, which spruces them up with improved graphics and physics.
I Thought I Was The Bally Table King, But I Just Handed My Pinball Crown To Him – New to the Pinball FX series is the addition of Multiplayer, and in particular, leaderboards. This adds a whole new dimension to the game, as not only are you competing against pre-loaded highscores, but also against your friends online. In a novel twist, the better you or your friends are at the game, the more the game rewards you, through your ‘Wizard’ score. This combines your high scores for the various pinball tables, how many tables you’ve played, and how many tables your friends have played, which are added up to contribute towards the almost forty achievements and even Avatar unlockables that the game provides.
I Ain’t Seen Nothing Like Him, In Any Amusement Hall - Pinball FX 2 is incredibly easy to pick up and play, like most pinball games. However, what sets this one apart from many other pinball games I have played is the camera. Oftentimes I have struggled with the camera in other games as it flies across the table, often obstructing my view of the ball. When you’re already trying to track a moving object, having a moving screen as well makes your task a whole lot harder. Thankfully, Pinball FX 2 realizes the importance of a static screen. Furthermore, the graphics are crisp and clear, and you never struggle to work out where the ball has gone when it disappears down tunnels or tubes.
THERE'S GOT TO BE A TWIST
He Ain’t Got No Distractions, Can’t Hear Those Buzzers And Bells - Sadly, with all the visual greatness that Pinball FX 2 provides, its audio just cannot match the visuals. I know, pinball tables aren’t known for their musical greatness, but the tables provided here seem to almost go out of their way to drive you insane with their repetitive tunes, which aren’t even that great to begin with. By the time you’ve played a table 3 or 4 times, you’re ready to play it on mute.
He Stands Like A Statue, Becomes Part Of The Machine – Another issue I had with the game is that sometimes, and seemingly randomly, the ball gains a sense of weight, and will change its trajectory. While this is by no means a game-breaker, is it a little confusing, particularly in a game that does a lot of other things right.
Without a doubt, Pinball FX 2 is one of the better pinball games that I have played. With the ability to choose how many or how few tables you wish to own, and the depth that multiplayer and leaderboards provide, Pinball FX 2 will provide a lot of satisfaction to pinball lovers. Minor gripes aside, (honestly, other people may well enjoy the music) if you enjoy pinball, I definitely recommend downloading this game. It’s free, you get a good chance to try out some of the tables, as well as a reason to watch Tommy again.
- Jack Moulder
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