Arriving three years after its predecessor, Pinball FX 2 had ample time to not only go back to the drawing board and produce new tables, but also to refine the overall experience. The game actually released earlier this fall during Microsoftís Game Feast, but maybe you passed on it because it simply didnít have enough superheroes. Marvel Pinball has swooped in to remedy that situation, but does it live up to such accolades as amazing, uncanny, invincible, and daywalking? (Dammit, Blade, Iím trying to write an intro over here!)
Iíll just start off by saying Pinball FX 2 should be a staple in most everyoneís XBLA library. The physics are greatly improved over the first game even though the ball still feels slightly sticky and heavy, making it easy to trap and control with the flippers. Once you get used to the weight, however, the physics are consistent and offer up a really solid game of pinball. Should you not immediately agree, feel free to tinker with all kinds of settings ranging from simple camera angle shifts to tweaking the amount of kickback on kickers. The tables are also much more elaborate this time around offering action cameras, more involved dot-matrix scoreboards, and featuring more fantastical elements that could only be accomplished in a virtual pinball game. The game itself is a unique beast on XBLA due to it acting more as a platform than an individual game. The main game is free to download, but includes no tables. Instead, tables are available in four packs for $10 or individually for $2.50 a table (some tables must be purchased in the four packs) and each table comes with three achievements worth 50 GamerScore.
This review focuses mainly on Marvel Pinball, but youíll be hard-pressed to omit any of the tables from your collection due to Pinball FX 2 excelling as a social game. The game features a Superscore that tallies your scores across all your tables, so once you see that your friends are mere points away, youíre going to be tempted to buy that next table. The more tables you own, the easier it is to raise your score and your position on the leaderboards. Additional tables are a worthwhile purchase for sure, as the leaderboards in Pinball FX2 are so well done that they should be the industry standard. Not only do they constantly keep you updated with onscreen prompts saying how close you are to your next friendís high score, but they track all-time and weekly scores on each table. They even incorporate Avatars into their slick interface; your Avatar will show his or her satisfaction in passing a rival (your friendís Avatar wonít be so pleased). And just so your friend knows without a doubt that you are now superior, the game offers a quick way to shoot a message to them informing them that youíve just beaten their score. Should you want to go head to head, Pinball FX 2 offers up both online and local multiplayer.
As far as the Marvel tables go, the Spider-Man table is the clear winner of the group. Spidey has always been my favorite superhero and that may have something to do with me absolutely loving his table, but itís also due to it being really good. The multilayer table full of web-like wire-ramps constantly has the ball looping about in interesting ways and battles are triggered with Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, and Mysterio. Once provoked, the super villains move about the screen daring you to hit them with the pinball or the pumpkin bombs that Goblin tosses onto the playfield for multiball. Itís an extremely well laid out table that couldnít be taken to this level of interactivity without it being virtual.
The remaining three tables all offer up similar themes of battling classic baddies, and all are fun to play, just not quite as fun as the Webslingerís. The Iron Man table offers a less extreme take on ramps and chutes, as itís a lot more symmetrical. It almost has a Pinbot-feel as central targets must be knocked down to enable you to change from Tony Stark to Iron Man. Bladeís table features day and night portions and I find it a little difficult to fully see everything on the board during the night portions. It seems to be the most complicated of the tables with goals split between the day and night portions and I feel like I still have a lot to figure out. Iíve yet to master the angles and see a lot of balls falling through the left and right outlanes. The Wolverine table features battles against a Sentinel, Silver Samurai, and of course, Sabretooth. (Wolverine loves to obliterate alliteration.) Itís a solid table featuring a fair share of alleys and ramps and, out of all the tables it would be the most likely to be a real world table.
For $10, Marvel Pinball for Pinball FX 2 offers up unquestionable value. Itís a great game of pinball full of appealing graphics and sounds from Marvelís finest and itís among the best social games on Xbox Live Arcade. If you want to expand your roster of tables, you can currently spend up to an additional $32.50 on the thirteen tables available including all the importable tables from the original game and Street Fighter and Rocky and Bullwinkle licensed tables. Iíd suggest starting with Marvel Pinball and then adding on the Pinball FX 2 Core pack. Plus, more Marvel themed tables are in the works and if they turn out as fantastic as the initial four, Iíll take one for every character in their infinitely large universe. Even Howard the Duck.
Outstanding | Very Good | Fair | Poor | Awful
Recommended Buy Price: $10.00
Current MSRP: $10.00
Pinball FX 2 along with Pinball FX 2 Core, Pinball FX Classic, and Marvel Pinball were provided for review by Zen Studios. Iíve played the game for seven hours accumulating 4 out of 12 Achievements for 30 GamerScore in Marvel Pinball. For Pinball FX 2 as a whole, I have 17 out of 51 Achievements for 215 out of 850 GamerScore. Marvel Pinball will also be released on PlayStation Network as a standalone product.