With the arcade scene in North America all but dead, Zen Studios has taken over as the go to developer for the same addicting pinball action that you enjoyed as I kid. Already popular on consoles, Zen Studios has finally brought the game to Steam, giving PC players their first chance at some of the best looking pinball tables to date. While this review won’t go into the specifics of each table, it will cover everything you need to know about the game.
Downloading Pinball FX 2 doesn’t cost anything; instead gamers are required to purchase different pinball tables either in packs of single tables. There are a handful of tables not based on any licensed property, but for the majority of gamers and pinball aficionados, Zen Studios has been working with two of the most popular licenses of all time: Marvel and Star Wars – both owned by Disney. Granted, there have only been three Star Wars tables released and a handful of different packs of tables based on Marvel properties, including Blade, Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men and The Infinity Gauntlet.
With over 20 tables to purchase and play on, Zen Studios has included a very brief timed demo for each of the tables, allowing you to judge for yourself which tables are worth purchasing. While the non-licensed tables may certainly be overlooked by many, they do provide a more classic pinball experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are bland or lackluster tables to spend your time with, but when put up against the mass appeal of The Avengers and Boba Fett, anyone’s view of them become eschewed. At this time, not all of the tables can be purchased individually, with many of the popular tables coming only in themed packs.
Obviously the main draw in Pinball FX 2 comes from the licensed properties. The Avengers is one of the newer Marvel table features six visually distinct balls, representing the different Avengers members. Each one comes with various bonuses, such as Hulk receiving more points for hitting the bumpers. The table themselves are intensively detailed that will make any comic book fan drool with vibrant colors and authentic pinball sound effects. The extravagant ramps and characters models are well designed and add character to each of tables, but some of the tables feel very cluttered, with too many contrasting elements, making it hard to focus at times on the ball. This seems to be an issue with some of the newer tables as Zen Studios cram in every little detail about the character/series as possible. Sometimes, less is more.
Outside of the Marvel tables, the Star Wars table pack contains a The Empire Strikes Back, The Clone Wars, and Boba Fett table. Re-enacting scenes from the franchise as you play, this metagame features Boba Fett flying across the table, an asteroid field chase and appearances from both Jabba the Hutt and Darth Vader. All of the visual fluff won’t mean anything if the gameplay didn’t hold up. The ball physics feel realistic, and reacts just as you would expect. It truly feels like I am back in my childhood, spending my afternoons in the arcades surrounded by rows of pinball tables.
If you are a pinball fan, Pinball FX 2 is the easiest decision you will make in your entire life. Each of the tables feel unique, and I have no problem recommending you purchase all of the tables, especially considering there are leaderboards for every table as well as hot-seat multiplayer. Pinball FX 2 provides hours of entertainment and a much needed break from the monotony of action orientated games being released today.
Note: The Pinball FX 2 review was written based on the PC version of the game provided to use for review.