Balls of Fire: Pinball FX 2 Review

Pinball FX 2

When I was in college there was a small arcade in the basement of our cafeteria and in it there were several outdated lightgun games and a couple pinball machines.  One of those pinball machines I spent a large amount of my breaks between classes dropping quarter after quarter trying to get my name on the highscore list.   That machine was the South Park pinball machine.

South Park Pinball

One thing that kept drawing me into this machine was the simplicity and openness of the table.  It was easy to tell what each target and hole did.  But it was also the feel of the machine and pressing the flipper buttons that really gave it, or any pinball machine, that joyful feeling.  So can the same be said for a pinball game that is no longer real but digital and controlled by your Xbox 360 controller?  Pinball FX 2 answers that question and it was a surprise for me.

Pinball FX 2 is developed by Zen Studios who also have developed the first Pinball FX on the Xbox 360 and Zen Pinball on the PS3, so they are not new to this genre at all.  As pinball goes, there is very little story, save for the few tasks you may have to complete on each table.  The goal is just to get as high a score as possible and achieve that by scoring multipliers, finishing tasks, and just about anything else besides losing your ball.  The game itself is similar to Hasbro Family Game Night in that it is a platform to download other games to it (in this case pinball tables).  If you already purchased the first Pinball FX then all of those tables are compatible with this new version and also include new achievements.  I did not previously previously play Pinball FX so I can’t make any comparisons to the previous version.  But since this is essentially a free upgrade for existing players then it already may hold some value for you.

My first impressions of the game as the screen panned around the table at the start of each game was, this game has some great visuals and sounds.  Each table appears like it could have a place in a real arcade somewhere, aside from the occasional special effect or ball trialling streak.  At the start of each ball you can control the release of your plunger with the right analog stick.  You then let it rip and use the right and left triggers to control the corresponding flippers (duh!).  Now where this game excels is the perfect attention to contact.  The game never feels floaty or unrealistic in its physics.  When the ball connects with something on the table, it reacts like you’d expect it to.

Pinball FX 2 tables

The first four tables in Pinball FX 2;  Secrets of the Deep, Biolab, Pasha, and Rome, feel a little more fleshed out then some of the other offerings.  I spent most of my time between Secrets of the Deep and Rome.  Each table had a completely different feel and I spent several hours trying to unlock every possible target and action available.  Once you’ve spent some time on each table you will start to notice the next part of Zen Studios master plan, online ranking.  This game has some many different ways of ranking your score, it can seem a bit overwhelming to a more casual player.  First you will notice a there are both a friends scoreboard and a worldwide scoreboard, similar to many other games on Xbox Live.  Then there is a Superscore which is the highest score of each table added up and divided by 1,000,000 (I never understood why pinball scoring was always so big).  Finally you have your Wizard score which is (ready for this?) your “Superscore + Your Friends Superscore x The Number of Tables Played”.  It’s Pinball Math FX!  Nonetheless there are a lot of ways to compete with your friends.  And that’s what also makes this a fun party game because pinball is so easy to teach even the novice of video gamers.

Pinball FX 2 Secrets of the Deep

Overall I would say this game is a surprising and addictive arcade title and is the first digital pinball game I think I have ever enjoyed, and I had free pinball Space Cadet on my Windows XP.  A definite upgrade for owners of the first Pinball FX and a must-download for pinball fans without the cash to buy a full pinball machine for their home/man-cave.

I give Pinball FX 2 a 4.5/5

Written by Bryan

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Balls of Fire: Pinball FX 2 Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

2 Comments

  1. Christopher says:

    South park is my favorite show and pinball is one of my favorite games… I’d love to see a south park pinball machine in an arcade near me!

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    • Bryan says:

      That was definitely one of my favorites at college. I think I remember to get multi-ball you had to get the ball into the toilet after Mr Hanky.

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