Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Arcade, DLC
Developer: Zen Studios
Publisher: Zen Studios
1-4 players (offline)
2 player cooperative
1-8 Players (online)
I had a chance to review FX Pinball 2 about a month or so ago, and I was very happy with the how the game played, looked, and sounded. Well not to just sit and be content, Zen Studios has released new DLC for that game, simply called Marvel Pinball, that in many ways is a new game within a game. Being that I love all the Marvel movies that have been released in the past, getting a chance to play some virtual pinball on tables that are designed with specific Marvel Superheroes was very enticing to say the least. So without further adieu, here are my thoughts on Zen Studio's latest pinball experience.
High definition is a great thing given how game developers can take advantage of the available resolution of the current generation consoles, and Marvel Pinball in no different. Visually I did not think that Zen Studios could out-do the job they did on the plain vanilla version of Pinball FX 2. The reason I say plain vanilla is that once you see the tables that have been created for Marvel Pinball you will be downright amazed. Along with the very realistic look of the targets, bumpers, blinking lights and ramps, you will find additional eye candy including some amazing animated superheroes and villains that are incorporated into each board. Each table is very specific to the superhero it has been designed after and there is a boat load of detail and features to visually enjoy. To see such detail in these virtual tables is amazing and I really do wonder what more Zen Studious can do in this department.
If you hear it in a pinball game, then you’ll hear it once again in Marvel Pinball. From the dings, bings, and whistles, to the distinctive sound of a steel ball traveling over the table’s surface and bouncing off the various bumpers and targets, everything is accurately recreated here. A new addition this time around, and very specific to Marvel Pinball, is the incorporation of sound bites from voice actors who portray the characters on each table. You'll find Spidey's smart-ass quips, Tony Stark's ego-mannered attitude, and even Blade's gruff voice adding to the pinball experience. And to add further gusto, there is specifically themed music for each table too. Although the music is not recognizable from any Marvel superhero movie, it is very appropriate for each table and I found that after extended play time that the looping tracks did not become annoying at any time.
For those that are curious, my previous review of Pinball FX 2 on the Xbox LIVE Arcade earned the game a pretty high score (8.8) as it really did bring the world of pinball to the world of console gaming in a manner that deserved the accolades we gave it. Marvel Pinball has been released on XBLA as a 'DLC pack' where as on the PS3 it has been released as a separate game. Don't ask me why this is the case, but I am not going to try to understand it as I am focused on the XBLA version that we received a code to review.
Marvel Pinball consists of four new tables based on Marvel icons Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine and Blade. The Spider-Man table has you battling such famed villains like Mysteria, Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin. The Iron Man table will pit you against Mandarin, Ultimo and Whiplash. Of course you also have the chance to take on Iron Man's true identity, Tony Stark. The Wolverine table has his well known nemesis's Sentinel, Silver Samurai and Sabertooth. Finally, the Blade table has the famed vampire facing Deacon Frost once again, with help from an old friend, Hannibal. If you noticed something here, I mention the superheroes are 'pitted' against their foes. Although you are playing a pinball game, much of your skill will result in you somewhat controlling the epic battles between good and evil. By pulling off some mad skill shots (e.g. going up ramps, hitting targets, etc) you will be the 'director' so to speak of what happens. Zen Studios really did utilize the Marvel license to the max and it was great to see that they just didn't put out some superhero skinned tables with generic bumpers, ramps and simple designs.
Anyone who is a pinball fan knows that a virtual pinball game is only as good as the gameplay, which relies heavily on physics and control. Well given that these tables are a downloadable pack for the original Pinball FX 2, fans should not fret here as the same great control, physics, and original well designed overall experience is alive and well here . Everything you’d expect to do in a real life game of pinball continues, from a soft nudge of the table to get the ball to fall in the right direction, to pinpoint accurate flipper shots up ramps, into tunnels, and off of bumpers or targets. The ball moves with incredible realism. Beginners will find themselves able to have a good time while experts will find their skills tested as there are some pretty challenging tables requiring some pretty skilled shots. Overall the single player experience is quite rewarding.
If there is one thing I noticed when playing Marvel Pinball it is that sometimes the action could get so crazy, and as the balls started to 'whiz' about the table, it could become a little disorienting at times. It really hit home how crazy a game like pinball can be and how there is truly skill needed to play. I also found my frustration level in some of the bonus rounds was a little elevated as they could be darn tough. Maybe it was that I am not nearly as skilled as I thought I was, but man, there are some really tough shots to be made. That isn't a bad thing though, given that the really skilled players will truly be rewarded as they earn their rightful spot on the top of the leaderboard.
Of course Marvel Pinball continues to shine in the multiplayer department. The same ability to play either on a single console or over Xbox LIVE continues here. You and three others can take turns playing your favourite Marvel table or you can play against one other friend in split screen mode at the same time. If you feel like some really long distance competition, you can head online over Xbox LIVE. Again, up to four people can play at once with the same online features originally found in Pinball FX 2.
Of course Marvel Pinball offers up some new achievements for you 'cheevo-hunters' out there.
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