Pinball FX 2
Posted 2 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
With the deluge of AAA retail titles squeezing their way on store shelves along with the high profile XBLA releases dominating the online topics of discussion, you would be forgiven if you said that Pinball FX 2 was not on your shopping list. I mean, it’s pinball, right? We have pinball on pretty much every digital platform available and odds are, you already own a copy somewhere. So Zen Studios’ release of Pinball FX 2 on XBLA - a sequel to 2007’s Pinball FX - presents us with one question: Why unleash a whole new game instead of just more tables?
Simply put, the ageing Pinball FX needed an overhaul. Pinball FX 2 isn’t just a rehash of the first game, dressed up with some new LEDs and a couple of new props. The first feature (and most important in my opinion) that Zen reworked was the ball physics. The physics left a lot to be desired the last time around and turned a lot of fans off entirely. Now, it’s a whole new state-of-the-art engine that, according to Zen, “surpasses the best titles in the genre”. Now, I won’t lay anything for or against that claim as I haven’t scrutinized every other title out there. However, I will say that the ball movement as it pings off the bumpers is loads better than before. The ball responds much more like its real-life counterpart, so much so only the keenest of pinball players will be able to pick out any differences.
Adding to that, players can now tinker with the tables themselves, adjusting the pitch, hydraulics, dot matrix display, etc... It’s totally optional, but if that’s your bag, there are very few pinball games on the market that offer that capability. Throw in the expected visual upgrades and new tables and you have true sequel.
Cosmetically, the whole format is different as Pinball FX 2 is presented as a free hub, similar to what last year’s Hasbro’s Family Game Night brought to the table, albeit without all of the interactive bells and whistles. The platform will allow users to purchase and play any of the four new tables (as a set) or import any of the Pinball FX tables they may already own. Bonus points to Zen for making sure that the imported tables get the same physics and visual upticks that the new ones have.
Also on tap is what can only be referred to as a whole suite of social features. The entire point of pinball is to achieve the highest scores possible, then subsequently bragging about it as you etch your initials into the leaderboard echelons. Here, the same leaderboard options return and have been beefed up a bit with things like the Superscore (which tallies performance across all tables) and Pinball Wizard (which combines the Superscore between you and your friends).
Multiplayer comes with local split-screen and online competitive matches where score targets and missed ball penalties can be adjusted to create the perfect pinball battle. There’s even pop-ups providing players with the name and score of the next person on their friend list they need to beat. It adds another layer to the competitive vibe in the same sense that Trials HD did last year with it’s real time in-race ticker. The split-screen in particular made a big impact here at my house. My 7-year old daughter not only discovered the joys of pinball as a whole, but the nail-biting, teeth-grinding frustration that comes with competition. As I noted, that’s where the spirit of the game resides.
Just the fact that it’s a free hub, allowing for individual tables to be purchased for a couple of bucks a piece is enough to make this a easy download. That said, the much improved physics engine, enhanced eye candy and the plethora of good-natured competitive options make this package even better. The new tables (dubbed the Core Collection - Rome, Pasha, BioLab, and Secrets of the Deep) are simply gorgeous and the spit and polish that’s applied to the older ones make them feel fresh and vibrant. My biggest gripe at this point is the fact the the Core and Classic table packs are 800 MP each with no option (at this time) to buy them individually. The only tables that can be purchased by themselves is those released as DLC for the previous game. Those are priced out at 200 MP a piece. Even taking the limited shopping options account, it’ll still be money well spent as this is the pinball experience on the market.
+ Spruced up visuals provide lots of eye candy
+ Social features capture the spirit of pinball
+ Free-hub business model has a lot of potential for mini-transactions...
- Limited appeal
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Release Date : 2010/10/26
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Developer : Zen Studios
Category : Flipper
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
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