So, my main game for the last few months has been PinballFX2 on the Xbox 360. Produced by Zen Studios, it’s a great pinball simulator game which has a number of tables to purchase individually, either with a Zen in-house theme, or themed after a licensed property (mostly Star Wars, Marvel and a few indie games). Zen also release these tables in different formats, as Zen Pinball on the PS3/4 I think, and individually as phone apps. I’ve also seen chatter suggesting that they may also be dirt cheap via Steam or courtesy of the odd Humble Bundle. Whilst table details should be shared across systems, please bear in mind I haven’t a clue what actually goes on with other consoles/devices.
I’ve been meaning to do table reviews for a while, but was unsure whether to review them in bulk (on the 360 many are released in packs of 2-4) or individually. I’ve finally decided to do individual reviews as I think the good tables deserve trumpeting, and readers can make up their own minds as to whether a pack is good value if it has only one reported corker in it.
I’m going to skip reviewing the underlying PinballFX2 software itself, except as commentary arises in the table reviews as I don’t have a great deal to compare it to (Time Scanner from the ’80s?), plus the physics and feel do a more than good enough job for me as a pinball-curious neophyte. I’m also going to try to avoid using too much jargon, partly because I’d only misapply half of it, and partly because heavy use in each table’s instructions (START > Help & Options > Rule Sheet) obfuscates more than it explicates.
Pack: Vengeance and Virtue incl. Moon Knight, Ghost Rider and X-Men
Achievements: 50g across 3 achievements
I’ll state first up that my familiarity with the character is limited to the recent Marvel films, and that I’ve fallen asleep twice during The Dark World (from the ads I was hoping for something more Hellboy II). Obviously I’m slightly familiar with the Norse Myths too.
Thor is a really solid, fun table to play. The playfield itself is mostly ice, with the World Serpent’s ever-active fire-breathing head on the left rising from lava pools, its body encircling the table forming one of the loops. Asgard is depicted as a golden citadel at the top of the table and stands beyond a rainbow bridge which must be revealed by making three easy straight-up-the-middle shots. The ball entering Asgard allows you to choose which of the six missions to attempt.
Loki and The Destroyer (who I’d honestly assumed was a rubbish made-up CGI villain for the first film) stand at the top of the table, whilst Thor and an outsized Mjolnir decorate the lower corners. When the missions are activated Thor leaps closer to his foes to engage with them (including the Frost Giant Ymir who emerges from the cave on the right). Hitting the lava pool bumpers 25 times triggers a simple mode requiring 3 hits to activate a Multiball mode where a classic red devil “Surtur” emerges from the flames to be confronted. Compared to many of the overbuilt or too sparse tables, Thor is a winner. There’s very little reliance on the background artwork for the theme, instead everything is up front and on top.
Voicework is great too, several of the other (esp. Marvel) tables appear to re-use the same voice actor or are sufficiently generic “heroes” that they don’t stand out. Thor, Loki and Odin stand with their figurative legs apart and roar their cod-Shakespearian dialogue at each other and the player. Generic heroes? “I say thee nay!”
Launching the ball is done via a siege engine of sorts, the skillshot isn’t very exciting being one of three simple target to hit/miss. Knocking the ball about the table is fairly safe, there are no horrific regular ballout situations although you won’t score particularly well playing that way. Kickbacks and Ball Saves acquire frequently enough from standard play that you’ve usually got some safety net to play with. One slight irritant is the reliance of several of the missions/modes/multipliers on hitting a particular target halfway up the table. It’s not hard, even for a half-skilled player just slightly awkwardly placed and it makes you feel like a lot of the table is being wasted when you’re focussing on it.
Ramp and loop shots all combo together for increased scoring, plus there’s a temporary score doubler available. Points for the Main Missions can be increased by lighting up the letters of the appropriate foe (SERPENT, ARMOR, etc). Considering that the Main Missions are very easy to trigger, there is a reasonable amount of variation in the difficulty. A couple are pretty easy though, meaning that a score of 40-50 million is achievable more or less from the off for a low-skilled player (me!). I’d be slightly worried about the longer term enjoyablility of the table as repetition is an off-putter, except that I am really caught up with the BIG COMICBOOK ACTION theme.
There is another multiball mode, plus a few things I’ve not triggered/experienced yet but that plus the gameplay video below should give you some idea of what the Thor table is like. Definitely recommended for most skill levels, unless you loathe Thor!
(good example complete game from YouTube, more zoomed out than my preferred view)