STAFF REVIEW of Pinball FX 2 (Xbox One)

Monday, August 25, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

Pinball FX 2 Box art Pinball lovers rejoice, we finally have a game on Xbox One to play! Pinball FX 2 is finally available for Xbox One, comes with one free table, and is free to download for everyone! That’s right, you can go download Pinball FX 2 for free right now and have a table to play (even the achievements) with the option of more tables to download and add on based on your specific pinball tastes.

Interestingly, I had friends over this weekend when I was working on this review and gave them the controller to play to get their impressions as well. I was taken back when they told me they’ve never played an actual pinball machine in real life before. Granted, they are about ten years younger than I am, and maybe I’m dating myself, but it was one of those “wow, really?” moments. Then it dawned on me; my daughter who is now two, probably won’t play one either, as I wouldn’t even know where to go to play pinball since arcades are now extinct.

Pinball FX 2 boasts a robust library of pinball tables for you to purchase individually or a as a pack. These tables range from in-house created tables from the developers themselves, but some of the best tables are the Star Wars and Marvel themed tables, including the newly released Guardians of the Galaxy table. Did you purchase tables on Pinball FX 2 for Xbox 360? Fear not, as you’re able to import your tables into the Xbox One version for no extra cost.

While the older generation of pinball players like myself might initially be a little bummed that all of Pinball FX 2’s tables are created from scratch and don’t exist in real life, there’s a lot of really cool things that a videogame pinball machine can do that a real life counterpart never could. With the game playing at 1080p 60fps and a new easier interface to use to browse your table collection, Pinball FX 2 is easy for anyone to jump in and play. The left and right triggers are your flippers respectively and if you need to nudge the table to avoid the ball going down the middle between your flippers, you can flick the left stick to bump the table; a tactic only true pinball wizards have mastered in real life.

The menu system has been vastly improved and it’s much easier to flip between tables and categories with the bumper buttons. Tables you own show a colored icon where unpurchased ones are black and white to show the distinction easily. The first page is New Releases (Guardians of the Galaxy), then you have Zen’s original’s (the free one you get with the download), Marvel has its own section, and then the Star Wars category. You’re now able to also designate tables as your favorite and have them in their own category which becomes very helpful if you start massing a healthy number of tables.

So while the game itself is free to download and comes with one table, you’re obviously encouraged to supplement your pinball cravings with new table purchases. Most of the tables will run you $2.49 - $2.99 individually, but certain packs for $9.99 offer a lot of gameplay as well, even to those that may not be the biggest Star Wars or Marvel fan, as they are simply well done pinball tables first and foremost. Available right now at launch are the following for purchase:

Zen Classics: Shaman, El Dorado, Tesla and V12 (all complete with newer graphics) ($9.99)

Pinball FX2 Core pack: Biolab, Pasha, Rome, Secrets of the Deep ($9.99)

Marvel Pinball Avengers Chronicles: World War Hulk, Infinity Gauntlet, The Avengers, and Fear Itself ($9.99)

Marvel Pinball Vengeance and Virtue: Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, Thor, and X-Men ($9.99)

Star Wars: Episode V, Boba Fett, The Clone Wars ($9.99)

Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, Starfighter Assault, Darth Vader ($9.99)

Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, Han Solo, Droids, Masters of the Force ($9.99)

Marvel Civil War ($2.99)

Captain America ($2.99)

Guardians of the Galaxy ($2.99)

Fantastic Four ($2.99)

Doctor Strange ($2.99)

Deadpool ($2.99)

Mars ($2.49)

Epic Quest ($2.49)

Paranormal ($2.49)

There are lots of tables coming soon for more pinball enjoyment as well:

Earth Defense

Marvel Pinball: Original Pack

Street Fighter II

Plants vs. Zombies

Super League Football

The Walking Dead (August 28th)

While this review won’t delve into every table offered, one of the absolute favorites I really enjoyed from the Xbox 360 version is The Avengers table from the Marvel Pinball Avengers Chronicles pack. I highly recommend this table as it’s one of the best of all of the offerings as the artwork and audio are fantastic and it’s one of the most unique tables that you can purchase. At the beginning of a game you get to pick which game ball you would like to use, each painted and associated with one of the super heroes, complete with unique properties that allows for a deep level of strategy based on your skills.

Another table I highly suggest is Boba Fett from the Star Wars: Episode V pack. Zen has clearly put a lot of love and effort into this table and fits Boba’s history and feels authentic. Boba will jetpack around the table and there’s even a Sarlac Pit in the middle of the table. Be careful though, as there’s a lot of rebounds that are very difficult to save your ball from going down the middle.

The Guardians of the Galaxy table is a brand new offering that coincides with the brand new blockbuster movie (which I recommend seeing ASAP!). This table starts out with a bang, giving you a multiball for 60 seconds that plays out like the prison escape from the film for some easy points. The first few times might take you off guard but it’s a fantastic start to a new exciting table. After the multiball ends you have one chance at a skill shot that will net you some extra points if you manage to make the challenge. This table has a bunch of ramps at almost every angle and not many bumpers or other specific targets to hit. You’ll need to hit specific ramps multiple times to unlock specific play modes and events for each character.

Each ball has its own design as opposed to a plain silver ball that coincides with each of the main characters. Groot’s ball looks like tree bark, Rocket’s looks like his fur, and so on. Just like the movie, when you play Rocket’s special mission, Groot will be there at his side, giving you a two-ball multiball. I was hoping that since the table is a movie tie-in that it would have official quotes and sound clips from the movie itself, but sadly this isn’t the case. The quotes are done by voice actors that kind of sound similar but are distinct enough to sound off if you’ve seen the movie. Even with that being said, the Guardians of the Galaxy table is one of my favorites already.

So if you’ve purchased any of the tables on Xbox 360 you are given the ability to import them for free into your new Xbox One version and doing this is simple, but not as streamlined as it could be. First you need to make sure you’re singed into the account that purchased the tables on Xbox 360, select the table you want to import and if you’re eligible, you’ll complete the transaction for $0.00. Maybe it’s because of platform restrictions but all of the tables you own won’t automatically install on their own and you’ll have to do each individually if you did purchase any previously.

There was a major design flaw I noticed during my playtime that was quite a problem. When you get an achievement or any notification such as a friend coming online, the pop up notification appears exactly where your flippers are located. You can see where this would become a problem and the same goes for when you’re streaming on Twitch as well. The viewer count message also stays static right in the middle of the flippers, so it’s difficult to stream while playing because of this.

While there are some tables that are obviously better than others, more so if you’re a massive Star Wars or Marvel fan, but there weren’t any tables that I simply didn’t enjoy at all. If you have friends that play Pinball FX 2 you’ll see their high scores and even get notices of how close you are to beating their score as you play. Something I was really hoping that would be added in the Xbox One version would be an offering of online head to head play, but sadly this feature wasn’t added. Even if you’re a pinball enthusiast that really only thinks real life pinball tables are legit, I would still suggest Pinball FX 2. While video pinball might not be as authentic as the real thing, Zen does a great job at making their tables exciting and including a lot of things that simply wouldn’t be possible in a real life pinball machine.

Casual pinball players will really enjoy Pinball FX 2 and with the initial game being free there’s nothing to lose by trying it and with each table or pack being relatively inexpensive, there isn’t much barrier if you want to try an extra table here and there. If you don’t have an actual pinball machine in the basement at home, I recommend Pinball FX 2, more so if you want to play some great Star Wars or Marvel themed tables.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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