Star Wars Pinball FX 2 review (XBLA DLC)
The first Star Wars Pinball table pack for the Pinball FX 2 platform was developed by Zen Studios. It was released February 27, 2013 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Zen Studios, makers of Pinball FX 2, is releasing a trio of Star Wars pinball tables this Wednesday, in what will be the first group of many tables to come, much how the studio has released multiple packs of pinball tables from the Marvel comics universe. These Star Wars tables, which include a table for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, a table designed around the Clone Wars cartoon show, and a table in honor of infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett, are all worthy additions to the ever-expanding body of content available for Pinball FX2. It’s worth pointing out that only one of the three tables is focused on a specific film — this strategy of utilizing both iconic characters (Fett) and Expanded Universe content (Clone Wars) leaves Zen Studios with a range of choices in developing future Star Wars pinball tables.
Here’s what we liked:
Variety in playstyles – Each of the three tables has a completely different feel to them, and feature unique layouts. It definitely feels like getting three different tables as opposed to a reskin of a single neat idea. The Empire Strikes Back features a table that is extremely open compared to most of the Pinball FX 2 set, a refreshing change of pace from the recent Marvel Pinball tables featuring Ghost Rider and Moon Knight. Boba Fett’s table features the biggest rewards (by offering two sets of missions), though all three tables offer a fair amount of depth — it’s unlikely that players will see everything on a table without sinking hours into them. For players that like a slightly busier pinball table, the Clone Wars table will feel very good, as the opportunities for quick combos utilizing the ancillary flippers to hit multiple ramps in a row is a nice change of pace from the others.
Great use of source material – The Boba Fett and Empire Strikes Back tables sample the original films to great effect. Seeing a reenactment of Darth Vader speaking to Boba Fett saying “No disintegration…” during your pinball play is a treat, as are the rest of the vocal samples. The music is also culled directly from the famous Williams scores to the films, and while players are likely familiar with the music for these tables already as a result, it’s some of the most enduring film music ever written for a reason, and still sounds great over 30 years after audiences first heard it.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Difficulty keeping track of the game – The Clone Wars franchise is an outstanding addition to the Star Wars canon, but the pinball table is easily the weakest of the three in terms of graphics and audio. While the 3D models look just as impressive here as everywhere, the table artwork features the main cast of characters holding lightsabers, creating a grid effect. These lines draw too much of a player’s attention and often serve to distract from the targets players are aiming for. The Clone Wars table requires a little more practice than the others as a result.
No substitute for the original – Similarly, while Tom Kane does an admirable job of voicing Yoda in the cartoon, because the other two tables feature the original voice of Frank Oz, it becomes quite clear that the voice of Yoda presented in the Clone Wars cartoon is a substitute, no matter how good that substitution might be. The music for the Clone Wars fights a similar battle in this pinball set — while it is quite good, it gets unfairly compared to John Williams’ scores to the films. These are apples-to-oranges comparisons, but it is very difficult to not hold it against the Clone Wars table when it is set alongside the others.
The attention to detail across all three pinball tables is outstanding. The use of the tractor beam to guide the ball back to the flippers in the Empire Strikes Back table was an inspired choice that takes full advantage of the virtual pinball environment in a unique way without sacrificing the feel of playing an old pinball table. Boba Fett saves the day by grabbing the pinball with his grappling hook just before it drains. It’s obvious that Zen Studios paid lots of attention to these small details in this first set of Star Wars pinball tables, a set that is likely to leave you eager for more. As with the Marvel-themed tables, players will get more out of the experience if they come to the game with a knowledge of the source literature; that being said, there is some great pinball to be had here even for players who aren’t giant Star Wars fans.
Verdict: Buy It