Pinball FX 2 / 17th of August 2014
The Pinball FX series (or Zen Pinball, as it is known to PlayStation fans) is widely regarded as being the best, and one of the most authentic pinball games available today, and this latest instalment, now that it has finally arrived on Microsoft’s Xbox One, is surely Zen Studios’ best effort to date. For aside from improved visuals and a bevy of fantastic DLC, Pinball FX 2 could very well offer the best value of any game released onto the platform thus far…
Before going any further, I must clarify that the ability to import tables purchased on the last gen iteration of the game is possible on Xbox One, and Kudos must go out to the development team for implementing this, it would have been all too easy to simply re-charge gamers for downloading their tables again after all. But they didn’t, instead, Pinball FX 2 launches as a free game on the Xbox One, coming with one table (Sorceror’s Lair), and the usual compliment of 1,000 Gamerpoints, fans can then simply buy or import any additional tables that might catch their eye, and there are certainly quite a few of those.
The Zen Classics Pack comes with four tables (Shaman, Tesla, El Dorado and V12) which costs £7.99, this is then joined by the Zen Core Pack (Secrets of the Deep, Biolab, Pasha and Rome) which offers the same value, whilst the array of offerings from this particular stable are rounded off with an additional three tables which retail for just £1.99 each. These, however, are then supplemented by a vast array of Marvel and Star Wars themed pinball tables, which is surely where the main allure will reside for most gamers, it certainly does for me. These are all available in a variety of packs, whilst some are sold separately, and whilst yes, it is possible to expunge vast amounts of money purchasing additional content, it isn’t really necessary at all, and perhaps it is that, above the enhanced audio and visuals that makes Pinball FX 2 a truly must have title for any Xbox One owner.
As one would expect, the game runs in native 1080p and at 60fps, and its ball physics are flawless, but there’s more to the game than that. It has received praise in the past for its community features, and rightfully so, the inclusion of online leader boards for each table and Pinball Wizard scores for each player mean that the game keeps the competitive edge that its real world variant offers, guaranteeing repeated plays all round. There’s also multiplayer options too, with Pinball FX offering both hotseat and split-screen options, allowing two gamers to play together on the same console, which is something that is becoming more of a rarity these days.
In terms of its presentation, this Xbox One variant has received a lick of new paint from the team at Zen, with a much more palatable menu that splits each group of tables into an appropriate section, grouping Marvel tables in one, Star Wars in another and so on. Players need only press one of the controller’s bumpers to jump between them, making the table selection less painful than before thanks to this new, less cluttered approach. With any luck, this new style will be carried across into its next iteration and beyond.
Like its predecessors, this version of Pinball FX features multiple camera angles through which the action can be seen, and likewise, the tables themselves vary wildly in their relative level of complexity, as they always have done. I managed to get some hands on time with the new Guardians of the Galaxy table that the team have made, along with a few others, it carries the trend that they have established of mixing realistic ball physics with somewhat more fantastical elements, such as its figurines of the film’s heroes standing atop the table where they occasionally get into gunfights, leaving Groot to pop up save your ball when needed. An interesting note about this particular table, is that when play commences, the table is bombarded with balls, replicating the group’s prison escape from the movie, it’s a pretty novel twist on the old formula and it certainly took me by surprise when I put it on. And, whilst it may suffer from some particularly sub-standard voice acting, I simply could not recommend purchasing this enough, especially if it’s the only table that you buy.
The Marvel and Star Wars tables won me over with the use of their licences, particularly the latter as they employ John Williams’ breath-taking score to wonderful effect, making them a must have for any fan of the original trilogy, but of course, if you already have Pinball FX 2 on the Xbox 360, then you probably already have these. If that’s the case, then you’re probably going to be looking to import these onto this new version of the game, and if so, then you might want to check out our handy guide on how to do this, which you can find here.
In all, Pinball FX 2 on the Xbox One is exactly what I expected, a slightly better looking variant of its last gen iteration, but it is free after all, and that surely makes it a must own title for every owner of Microsoft’s latest gaming device. Its vast array of interesting table designs will undoubtedly appease the more hard-core pinball aficionados out there, while its supreme ball physics and cleaner presentation should see it acquire universal praise. With its free entry point, and with some excellent tables starting at just £1.99 (£2.39 for the Guardians table), there really is no excuse to not launch yourself into this game.