Bethesda Pinball Collectionby John Elliott
After reviewing dozens of pinball tables for Pinball FX2, you might wonder if I get bored of reviewing the same thing over and over again. Luckily, Zen Studios has an uncanny way of taking other intellectual properties like Marvel and Star Wars and transforming them into something completely unique and making you come back for more and more. After hearing of the partnership with Bethedsa, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Doom, to see how Pinball FX2 could transform these phenomenal titles into a pinball masterpiece
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was the table I wanted to jump into first. This pinball table puts the adventure truly in your control, incorporating RPG gameplay elements into the pinball environment. There are so many customizable and collectable options from your gear that you find in chest,s and you can equip armor, weapons, and potions, to spells that your character can use. Each of these customizable options are visually represented on your character as their appearance changes with relation to your choices.
The table also visually changes depending on what time of day it is and you can even control this by unlocking the Inn and paying to spend a couple of hours resting. Rest for enough hours and the day will turn to night or vice versa. The gameplay for this table is rich and full and includes many side quests, challenges, and mini games that you play through from killing an array of enemies (wolves, bandits, spiders etc.), to exploring caves (mini game), to finding chests and even working on your lock pick skills to open these chests. It isn't overly difficult to unlock these additional games and this makes this table fun to play, as there are tons of variety to the experience.
Another new feature that is introduced in this table is a game save option. You can truly continue the adventure where you left off with your skills and equipment. This is fantastic for a table that allows your character to level up things such as health, stamina, and magicka, as it would be discouraging for the player to have to start over and over with each attempt. Lastly, honorable mention should go to the voice and sound work for this table. The sounds are spot on and many times I found myself reminiscing journeying through the vast lands or in the heat of the battle against foes.
Next table up was Fallout. This table also builds on a more immersive experience giving more choice to the player on how the gameplay will go. In a post-apocalyptic world full of nuclear radiation, your character sets out on their adventure. Explore vaults, fight enemies, and level up as you go. You even buy supplies to help you on your journey by collecting bottle caps by hitting a special ramp. Your character can be customized at the beginning or you can have them randomly generated with a skill set and level them up throughout the game. Depending on how you choose your skills, you will find yourself with additional advantages in your battles.
You also have to keep an eye on the radiation bar at the bottom of the table as it will reduce your health and can affect you being able to win a battle. To help you get the upper hand though, you are able to add skills to your arsenal such as increased strength to help you in melee attacks or luck to help you find loot. In addition to fighting enemies and side quests there are vaults you can explore which are challenging and really draw on all of your pinball skills and character development to be successful. Pass the vault and you get a fancy bobble head that offers a variety of perks in the game.
Doom was the last table to get a run through its paces perhaps because I'm not overly a Doom fan but I know many out there are as this is another franchise that has a huge following since its inception. Probably one of the main reasons that Doom makes my stomach sour is that when Doom 64 first came out I remember being at a friend's house and we started to play Chubby Bunny, where you stuff marshmallows in your mouth 1 at a time while talking. The person who would stuff the most marshmallows in their mouth and still talk would win. However, that mixture of stuffing your face full of marshmallows while playing a FPS, combined with lots of blood on the screen just made me nauseous and those marshmallows come a flying out of mouth to my dismay. Side note though, I did stuff the most marshmallows in my mouth and won the game of Chubby Bunny.
Anyhow, in this table you find yourself in the UAC research facility as you work to collect Argent Cells and fight a slew of demons. This table is successfully themed to bring you into the depths of hell and sets the scene for your epic battles. The music is loud and maddening, the battles are challenging, and the foes grotesque. The game features all of the mini-games, side quests, and main table objectives as one might expect with a little less customization as the previous two titles. One customizable feature is the ability to change your weapon. Different weapons will have different effects on certain demons and may give you an edge in battles.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout and Doom have been successful franchises for Bethesda for a reason. The worlds and stories are rich and captivating and this comes through on their pinball adaptations. The addition of a more choose your own adventure experience coupled with the ability to save your progress really sets these tables up there. It also gives us a glimpse of what Pinball FX2 can do moving forward and I can't wait to see what they come out with next.
Overall: 9 / 10