More skillful than a shot from Hawkeye, more stunning than Scarlett Johansson’s on-screen interpretation of Black Widow, and more enticing than all of the gadgets in Tony Starks lab, Pinball FX2’s latest DLC has achieved the incredible and done justice to the world of Marvel…again.
The Avengers Movie Table: Like its multi-million dollar silver screen counterpart the DLC opens with a bang. The Avenger Movie table boils down the pivotal sequences of the film into succinct, and often extremely nerve-wracking, pinball experiences. While the game’s minigames are reasonably addictive (I mean a Cap / Iron Man multiball is one of my favorite experiences in the set for its dialogue alone) the table’s biggest and most apparent flaw is probably what the game’s designers boasted the most: diversity in character selection.
Each launch has players picking from the famed Marvel roster, each “character” (read: different colored pinball) has a trait to boost a different sector of the table. The idea should be both original to the arcade classic and work to add to the DLC’s replay value, but unfortunately the feature merely presents a guise of diversity opposed to actually giving players a different experience. Worse so than the table’s false sense of variety, the dense clusters of barely navigable table space has been my experience to spray-and-pray rather than line up that perfect shot – a slap in the face to the inner pinball wizards of our childhood.
Table Rating 6 / 10
Infinity Gauntlet Table: Colorful and whimsical like a bad ’90s film, Infinity Gauntlet tasks Pinball pros to stop Thanos from molding the universe into his image. Calling on the likes of the Silver Surfer and the Defenders, the table plays out fast and frenetic as gravity changes on the fly, camera angles whip to and fro, and flippers lock in the up position, challenging potential players to be fast on their fingers.
There’s a lot to like on the board and of the set perhaps provides the most replay value. While The Avengers present differing initial options that serve as a cheap façade to real difference, Infinity Gauntlet’s wide array of sub-games create unique experiences each and every time the plunger is pulled. While it may not be the hardest table from the set, Infinity Gauntlet does well to pay homage to one of the greatest Marvel events of the early ’90s.
Table Rating 8 /10
World War Hulk Table: Presenting the most smooth, fluid, and point-laden table of the bunch, World War Hulk has pinball fanatics reliving the days of a Hulk gone berserk, er, at least more berserk than usual. The table works well within the pack, while Infinity Gauntlet presents a variety of challenges and fun quasi-table games, Hulk resonates at the very core of what a pinball table should be; Tactful and elegant, but never overly impossible.
The arena sub-stage presents real challenge in hopes to land the table’s massive points, but becomes almost unnecessary due to the incredibly lucrative ramps that encircle the outer limits of the board. Not that an extravagant score always equates to the best experiences, in Hulk’s case players get the best of both worlds!
Table Rating 9 / 10
Fear Itself Table: Following in the wake of last summer’s insane Asgardian invasion, Fear Itself attempts to recreate the seminal events of the series. First and foremost, the Zen team outdid themselves really recreating the feel of the comics. Bumpers are made from pieces of Captain America’s broken shield, the hammer-wielding Sin plays both the rolls of battling villain and plunger – literally it feels like the apocalypse has come to pinball, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
But while the table is aesthetically pleasing, functionally it’s one of the worst of the pack. Massive gutters with little opportunity to activate kickbacks swallow the ball entirely too often, and while a horizontally rotating spinner seems great on paper, it does more to impede the flow of the board than actually add to it. Fighting the table’s seven hammer-wielding opponents brings some diversity to the relatively lackluster affair, but the trite challenges aren’t enough to save a board so committed to keeping the players down.
Table Rating 5 / 10
To recommend this pack across the board is difficult. To the Pinball FX savants this is an absolute must-have. The tables are challenging, interesting and at least three of the four will keep you coming back for more. Unlike the pinball pros, this may not be the best beginner pack. A few boards are slightly more challenging than some earlier stages (it’s incredibly easy to get well over 20,000 points on your first few tries on boards like Iron Man and Spider-Man) and perhaps the limiting factor of the events themselves reserve the DLC for Marvel fanatics.
For $10 (or 800 MS Points for those on XBL) though, I firmly believe most players should be shouting “Avengers Assemble!” long into the coming weeks. The Avengers Chronicles hits PSN Tuesday June 19th and plunges onto the Xbox Live Arcade the following day.