Game: “Pinball FX2 Mars”
The 80s, many things have come from this decade of change. Margaret Thatcher, the walkman, widely available VCRs and gaming systems that had names with Mega, or Entertainment System, just to name a few. However, with all eras, some items are left in the dust and one relic of the 80s and before is the Pinball Machine. It’s something that is widely seen across all 80s sitcoms and in the odd Arcade in sleepy seaside towns as well. Zen Studios haven’t forgotten about this much loved machine, much the opposite.
The introduction of Pinball FX2 on the Xbox Live Arcade shows their continued commitment to the ways of the pinball. It’s clear from the moment the game has been installed that it’s going to be what was imagined on pinball tables of the late 80s, fast, furious fun with techno elements and a cyberpunk behaviour. Well, maybe not cyberpunk but the elements of weird space age technology and an attempt at a storyline are there.
Each table is an entirely separate level and there’s little attempt to link together the varying storylines of the table; however, the storyline is not the main element of the game. It’s all about the pinball. There are various tables; but we are reviewing the Mars Table. The story is that humans set foot on Mars in 2100 and we are trying to colonise the planet; however, it requires a large amount of exploration and an attempt to scan the planet and make everything OK for future humans.
The storyline is simplistic and only adds different features to the board, such as satellite scanning and requiring certain missions to be completed. Of course, there is a limited amount of missions that can be completed with a pinball – this isn’t Sonic Pinball where control of the character is available, much the opposite. The table behaves like a true pinball table, the plunger on the right to shoot the ball into action and the flippers at the bottom centre to allow the player to fling away the pinball should it be close to harm. There’s a flipper half way up the level as well, so that provides extra ability to gather as many points as possible.
The design and physics of the game is next to perfect, with the pinball flying all over the screen and when it reaches the flappers slows down accordingly. It really does feel and behave like a pinball machine, by waggling on the analogue stick there’s even the option of making the table move a bit. Of course, do it too much and the controls freeze and the pinball will just fall to its doom.
The design of the Mars Table is a classic pinball machine table, with lots of chrome, bumpers, racks and everything else imaginable. It even has the over shinyness that’s only really seen on chrome metal. Towards the top of the table, it is very easy to loose the pinball, as there’s a lot of design covering where the pinball actually is and it often ends up on the higher level. Luckily, the pinball glows when it’s on the track, but it’s still easy to loose track of where everything is. Additionally where the score is tracked, the menu also turns into a place for messages to be sent to the player; yet, when part way through a mission the score disappears for extended periods at a time and this can leave the player frustrated.
With two different modes, Multiplayer and Single Player and a Leaderboard there’s plenty to keep a gamer entertained, especially as the Leaderboard is automatic and it’s clear to see what the target is to be #1 on that table is. The result is hours spent on the pinball table trying to rack up tens of millions of points. There are also a number of Achievements to be awarded; however, the majority of them aren’t for the Mars Table.
The actual title, Pinball FX2 is available as a free download on the Marketplace; however, once the game has installed you then have to purchase the tables. Therefore, it is a little deceiving, as it’s not actually a free game at all. Yet, if you are a pinball fan, it’s a very solid pinball title with some great tables.
Pinball FX2 Mars Table is a solid pinball game that will have fans of the genre absorbed for many hours. With various other tables available and a good online mode, the game is a must for pinball and casual game fans alike.