Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Saturday, 17 December 2011 06:00
Adding another four tables to the mix, the Marvel Vengeance and Virtue pack puts the fate of four Marvel legends in your capable flippers: Moon Knight, X-Men, Thor and Ghost Rider.
First things first: Any Xbox 360 owner with access to the internet and a hard drive needs to have Pinball FX downloaded. It's a completely free game, and you can get trials of every table. This guarantees a few moments of fun without spending a dime! Here's a quick reflection on all four tables that are currently available:
Moon Knight: Easily my favorite in the pack. While I don't know much about the character/series myself, I know that you battle Morpheus, Midnight, Black Spectre, and Bushman as you flip your way around the table. The animated characters struggling with each other, with the hero winning based upon how well you are hitting targets, make you feel as if you are aiding the hero in the battles. The table is well laid out, and it's really awesome to see a ton of balls rolling around the field once you activate the ship. There's also a mini-mode or two to activate, including where the Moon Knight uses the ball in a shooting gallery of sorts.
X-Men: The X-Men have always been my favorite Marvel franchise, and I feel they are represented well in this table. The main action is between Professor X and Magneto, but Juggernaut, Mystique, and the Blob join in on Magneto's side. Storyline from the comics is even woven into your pinball play field, as Magneto tries to coerce Phoenix to his side, and balls representing her and Cyclops (each with a different hue on them) roll around the field. I smiled while playing the adventures here, as it felt as close to an X-Men action game as I could get with two flippers.
Thor: Face off against Loki the Destroyer, Ymir the Frost Giant, and others. A good deal of action between characters and mini games in this table as well makes for an exciting game of pinball.
Ghost Rider: My personal least favorite of the set, but that's not saying it is bad at all. Ghost Rider pops wheelies on his motorcycle in the corner, and there are quite a few ramps to hit.
All of these tables come at you in a package, equating about $2.50 apiece, which is probably less than you would pump into them if you were to find them in an arcade. Each and every table within Pinball FX2 is a great steal for anyone who loves pinball.
As arcades dwindle, sadly, so does the pinball table. It doesn't help that everyone wants fancy graphics to go with their gaming these days, as those animated characters would never be on an actual table. This is what I love about PFX2, though. They have a solid engine, built to realistically portray a pinball table, and they add the fantastic on top of it without affecting the game play. The developers are master craftsmen as well. I saw ways to access each and every ramp, bumper, and slot through subtle adjustment of the pinball flippers. It helped me realize that you don't just put obstacles down and say "go," you have to line them up for maximum fun. I can see that this was definitely a strength of the development team.
There are two things I would like to request in the future, though. Digging through the menus I see that the Xbox Live Vision Camera was usable like a preliminary Kinect, waggling your arms to run the flippers. I turn this on, but it does not recognize the Kinect. It'd be nice, whether the feature was worth it or not, to see the feature usable with the new camera. I am not a programmer, but I'd like to think it wouldn't be that hard.
Secondly, tables. After the first night of playing this, I ended up having dreams of potential pinball tables, primarily centered around other video games! Imagine a Gears of War table or a Portal table. (I know they are in with Marvel, but an Arkham City table could be done well.) I'd also think that related to the game, cartoons, or films, a Ghostbusters table would be a lot of fun. By skinning over such a realistic physics engine, and retrofitting modern gamer classics to the oldschool pinball table, there is possibility for some really awesome combinations!
So the final score: if you have enjoyed previous iterations of Pinball FX2's tables, this is an easy buy. If you are just now joining, this is one of the best places to start. And if you're on the fence, it's literally nothing to download the free demos and give it a shot!