Pinball FX 2 Review

When Zen Studios announced that the sequel to their impressive Xbox 360 Pinball Simulator, I couldn’t help but get a little bit excited. After the huge leaps Zen Pinball took over Pinball FX I was hoping for much of the same when Pinball FX 2 was to hit XBLA. In a first for Xbox Live Pinball FX 2 is a totally free download which gives the user a chance to experience each table before buying it. A smart move which will attract attention from those addicted to the ball bearing. There is also a reward for those that bought the original game. Those that purchased Pinball FX will be able to import their existing tables into the game and they’ll get a new lick of paint. The tables get a dose of graphical improvement along with more graphical detail both in the backgrounds outside the table and on it. Furthermore the updated physics will also apply. If that isn’t a way to reward a loyal customer, I don’t know what is!

As each table can be purchased individual or the classic pack bought for 800 Microsoft Points to unlock the tables from the original game, I thought I’d share you my opinions on each table to give you a good idea where you should spend your money. Before I do that I want to mention the new features in Pinball FX 2. Better physics, check. Better graphics, check. Graphically the game has come on leaps and bounds. There is an unbridled attention to detail and realism in the game which puts Zen Studios at the fore front of pinball simulation. Williams and Gottlieb pinball games on the Wii and PSP no longer feel appealing to play after getting hands on with Pinball FX 2. It smashes expectation levels through the roof after that. New for FX2 is the split-screen multiplayer, a pinball game first. This creates for some entertaining and frenetic action best shared between those that enjoy pinball games of course. Next up is Hot Seat. Hot Seat is a one ball, best score scenario. The next ball resets the score and is up to the next player to beat it. You still have the online multiplayer too and you can use your camera for motion controls and to see other people play online, not sure why that kind of feature is needed as the only people we’ve ever seen using an Xbox Live Vision Camera are perverts on Uno.

All this is good and well but what about the tables? To get the main batch of tables you are looking effectively at 1600 points plus additional extras for the Street Fighter, Earth Defence and other variety of tables available. Which tables are worth your coin, which are not? Let’s take a look!

BUY IT! - Pasha – A mystical table with ethnicity akin to a mix of Persian fables and legends to be told. Pasha provides some nice ramps and rails and tells a story with a narrator as you progress through the missions on this table. It is most certainly unique and we’d highly recommend picking this one up.

LEAVE IT! – Rome – The weakest of core collection tables. Whilst it has a nice moving ship on the right hand side which can be set on fire, it’s the general table design that feels a little limited and primitive. There doesn’t feel like there is enough going on to really appreciate this table and has garnered the least play out of all the tables in the core collection for us.

BUY IT! – Biolab – By far the very best table out of all the tables available on Pinball FX2. As through progress through the missions hitting bumpers, spinners and surfing the rails you can hit the mission area and change the look of the alien sitting inside the biosphere. Biolab is a shining example of Zen Studios meticulous detail, it’s brilliant.

BUY IT! – Secrets of the Deep – Nice table, oceanic themed with ball lock and the ability to progress a submarine up the table to lock each ball. The Secrets of the Deep table also has a feature that if you flick the ball into the periscope hole it will rotate and you can re-launch the ball, it’s a great little addition.

I won’t go into detail or provide any screenshots of the classic collection as you can trial these tables for yourself however I will say that Xtreme is the table not worth bothering with, the others are worth your coin though.

Pinball FX 2 is so richly detailed that for those with any know how with Pinball machines they’ll be delighted that you can access the owner manual for each pinball machine and tweak the settings which will dramatically change the physics of the game. A nice added touch that people will appreciate I am sure.

Perhaps the biggest feature that I am interested in is the updated community features. Rather than focusing on a global leader board FX2 decides to take it more in house and get you competing amongst your friends. You can rack up Wizard score and individual scores for each table, rack up enough score and you’ll unlock two avatar award items too. Groovy! The tweet deck-esque notifications are a great touch and they’ll keep you focusing on beating your opponents, if that isn’t enough you can send all your opponents challenges to beat your score. Nice!

Overall Pinball FX 2 is by far the greatest Pinball game ever made and it’ll be a tough cookie to top. We thought Zen Pinball was superb but this game goes one better. For pinball aficionados this game is a complete no-brainer. How much you are prepared to invest into the game though is very much your choice.

92/100

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