Having never played a pinball simulator before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Hell, I haven’t even played a real pinball machine in over twenty years! It’s just never been the sort of genre I have really been interested in. I always felt that any kind of video game version of pinball would be rubbish due to the fact that it would rely on the ball physics being perfect, and would have to be rubbish, right?
Well, that may have been the case in past years, but with the technology available to developers nowadays physic problems are now a thing of the past.
The first thing to know about Pinball FX2 is that it is free. That’s right; you won’t have to drop a dime to download it. However, playing a table is a different matter. Now, all tables are available for you to trial once. But after that you have to lay down 200msp per table. Although there are two table packs for you to download at 400msp per pack, which include four tables each. The first is the Classic Pack. This pack contains four tables from the first game, updated to fit in with the new game. The good thing is that if you brought the first game, this pack is free.
The second pack (Core Pack) contains four new tables for your amusement. After playing all eight tables, you can certainly see that Zen have been more ambitious with FX2, as the tables are more exciting and have lots of things going on. There are another eight tables on offer (at 200msp each), which appear as greyed out in your table menu. As I said earlier, you have the option to download them to trial. This is a great way to try before you buy.
When you start up the game you will be taken to the table menu. From there you can select which table you wish to play. All tables are unlocked from the start so you can just dive on in. You can play in single player, or online multiplayer (although this is just a case of taking turns on a table to see who is better) on each of the tables.
The controls are simple enough. The triggers or bumpers control the flippers. You can also move the left stick to tilt the table, but of course you have to be careful not to trigger the alarm. However, extended play can sometimes result in sore fingers and I often found myself switching between triggers and bumpers. The most impressive aspect of the gameplay is the way the ball feels (insert your own joke here!). It has a weight to it that really feels authentic and moves about the table as you would expect a real pinball to do. It felt like a genuine pinball experience, which in my book is exactly what it should do. The tables themselves are a great deal of fun, especially the new tables. They are all fun to play, with each having its own take on the pinball genre. Some have an emphasis on the more traditional style of table, while others have lots of things going on at the same time, such as dot-matrix screens popping up to start mini-games.
These tables seem to be more complex than the others, with lots of nooks and crannies to delve in to! Here lies one of my minor issues with the game. When playing the game, my main concentration sits with trying to keep the ball in play. However, with dot-matrix screens popping up in the left hand corner, you either become distracted and end up losing the ball or missing out on gameplay (as the dot-matrix screens often contain mini-games, instructions or hints). This isn’t a major issue, and I’m sure most pinball fans have already found a way to deal with it.
The game looks great as well. Sharp, vibrant graphics really heighten the experience, and with six different view modes, you can easily find the one to suit you. The sound also adds depth to the game as it really does sounds like a pinball machine. From the whizzes and bangs, to the sound the flippers make, it takes me back to when I was 15 and cracking 50p after 50p in to the Terminator 2 machine!!
Another great thing about this game is its leaderboard tracking. As with more and more games recently it will track your score for each board (and your overall score across all tables) and then give you real-time updates on how you are doing against your friends. This adds a real sense of competition to the proceedings, and means you are always striving to earn bragging rights.
Pinball FX2 is a solid and enjoyable simulation. Fast paced and exciting, with only a few small niggles. A crowd pleaser which should keep you entertained for countless hours whether you are a pinball veteran or a fun-seeking novice.
Review copy provided by publisher.