Pinball FX 2ESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Arcade, Xbox LIVE Arcade
Xbox LIVE Arcade exclusive
Players: 1-2 (local)
Online Players: 1-4
Virtual pinball has always been a hit and miss affair, with most ending up on the ‘miss’ side of things. Taking a classic game like pinball and transforming it to the world of videogames is a daunting task indeed considering what it takes to recreate the physics, table design, and actual fun of playing real pinball. Zen Studios released their first virtual pinball game, Pinball FX, in 2007 and it was met with mixed reviews. Well, I guess they must have listened to those who complained. In late October of this year they released the follow up to their original game, aptly titled Pinball FX 2. Well after having spent some time with this game I have to say they have nailed the experience and this sequel is a much better pinball game all around.
Visually speaking, Pinball FX 2 is a great looking pinball game, especially given the HD capabilities of the Xbox 360. Each table is meticulously modeled and displayed and the level of detail that went into each and every one is amazing. You’ll find some very simple tables as well as some very complex ones with lots of ramps, switches and other moving parts. I was happy to see that every light on each table is functional too, and when the action gets crazy, so do the blinking lights. Part of the challenge of bringing a pinball game to the world of a videogame console is the camera angles, and Pinball FX 2 has this mastered. From close in to far back, each camera angle is playable, and brings out the detail in each table. Overall, the visuals are very well done.
If you hear it in a pinball game, then you’ll hear it in Pinball FX 2. From the dings, bings, and whistles, to the distinctive sound of a steel ball traveling over the table’s surface and hitting the various bumpers and targets, everything is accurately recreated here. And to add further gusto, there is specifically themed music for each table too, which after extended play time was not annoying at any time. Kudos here for the sound as this could definitely missed the mark, but it does not.
Playing pinball does not involve the need for a deep story or any reason for you to play at all. It is just you, the table, and a need to get the best score you can. As strictly a pinball game, FX 2 really does shine. Now I am not what you’d consider a diehard pinball expert out there, but I have played some pinball games now and then, even so far as playing the Simpson’s pinball table when out at my local Chuck E Cheese with my two kids. So I at least have a pretty good reference point based on past pinball game experiences when comparing it to this latest virtual representation.
It does not cost anything to download Pinball FX2, as it is free. Once you do this you then purchase the pinball tables from a library of those available. There are new tables, but it should be noted that most of the tables that are included for Pinball FX 2 have been carried over from the first game, but don’t worry, they get a visual and functional makeover that would be expected in a sequel. For those that have previously purchased tables from the first game you don’t have to fret as they will transfer over to the new game. That being said, your high scores from the first game don’t get imported to the new leaderboards, so if you are particularly proud of one score you’ll have to try to get it again. There are also new achievements for each table that were not in the original, so that too is an incentive to play the original’s tables in this new game.
Prior to you purchasing any available tables, you can play trial versions of each table before spending your hard earned Microsoft Points. I should note that not all the tables are available for individual purchase, and you have to buy one of the available ‘four packs’ prior to having the option to play any of the singles. For those who are wondering, the following tables are available:
- “Core” Pack
Four new tables including Secrets of the Deep, Biolab, Pasha, and Rome.
- “Classic” Pack
Four tables from the original Pinball FX including Speed Machine, Xtreme, Agents, and Buccaneer.
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