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Review: Pinball FX

We already have a large variety of games on Xbox Live Arcade, but it was missing a pinball game. The genre has been around for decades and the basics of the game have remained pretty much the same. Can you buy a decent pinball game for 800 MS Points and will it keep you entertained in the long run?

Pinball FX features 3 different tables right now on which you can perform your ball-magic. Our main gripe would be the presence of only 3 tables, but luckily they promise downloadable tables as well already. Each table has a different theme to which all of the gameplay elements have been adjusted, sound, difficulty and graphics. The Speed Machine is a very basic pinball table with plenty of fancy looking scoring objectives. The Extreme table is divided into two sections which makes completing objectives a little harder. Finally the Agents table is more open, which makes scoring tougher, and losing your ball easier. All of the tables are available from the start which means you can skip the one(s) you don’t like. The achievements for the game are spread out evenly across the different tables so if you want to get them all, you’ll have to play all the tables.


“Speed Machine”

This game is categorized under Camera-Enabled games which means that it supports the Xbox Live Vision Camera. It’s good for three things: a fancy looking main menu, video chat and the ability to control the flippers with your hands or feet. What the camera does to the main menu is basically the same as what it does on the Xbox 360 Dashboard, display the camera output with a cool graphics filter applied to it. There’s only one filter available which looks like some sort of watery effect, and it must be said, it looks pretty good. However, with the Totemball game debacle in mind, the Xbox Live Vision controlled flippers don’t really sound exciting. Pinball FX proves again that camera controlled games should be developed separately instead of trying to implement the feature in a regular genre game. To control the flippers with your limbs you just have to raise them so they become visible for the camera in the bottom left or right of the screen. You can also choose to reflect the image captured by the camera onto the objects on the playfield, this basically acts like a mirror.

The multiplayer features are pretty standard for this title, you can play a ranked or player match in quick match or custom match mode. Pick a table, score and penalty limit and you’re ready to play against other people. Everybody has his own table on screen and you can keep track of how well your opponents are doing by looking at the progress indicator which has a start and finish with everyone’s player color in between. When you reach the set score limit first you win and you’ll be moved back to the game lobby which leaves an unsatisfied feeling. The Vision camera videochat works both in the gamelobby and while you’re actually playing, but it takes up a rather big portion of your screen so you might want to disable it. You won’t have much time to look at someone else’s genitalia anyway because you need to keep your eyes on the ball.

Visually the game doesn’t score that bad, the tables are very lively with blinking lights everywhere which make it look like a real pinball machine. With the X button on your controller you can switch between different zoom modes. The default overview mode isn’t really suitable for standard definition TVs because you can barely read the text on the table. If you play on maximum zoom level, the game is pretty intense, especially if you’re not completely familiar with the table. The dot matrix LCD display also adds a nice touch and displays geeky animations in style of the table you’re playing on, especially when you pull of some crazy tricks or complete a mission. Unfortunately the sound isn’t particularly good, the music is very repetitive even though there’s a different track for every table available. The sounds effects are just what you could expect from a pinball table but the tables all of have some theme specific sounds which give them a nice touch. Keeping in mind that this is an arcade game and shouldn’t be compared with full price games, the sound and graphics are sufficient and thus won’t be the decisive factor whether the game is a buy or no-buy.

Considering this is the only pinball game on Xbox Live Arcade and there isn’t any comparable material in high definition, it looks and plays slick enough to have some fun with. If you’ve never played a pinball game before there’s no reason for you to not try out this title as it gives an honest representation of what pinball is all about. If you’ve played pinball before it’s not a bad choice either, the tables have enough content to keep you entertained and even if you’re an avid player, the achievements will keep you busy for a while. Most of the extra features aren’t really worth mentioning although leaderboards can be fun if you’re of the competing kind.


“Agents”

All in all the game isn’t that bad, for 800 MS Points you get a decent pinball game which does the job, but don’t really expect anything beyond that. The Xbox Live Vision mode isn’t anything special and the time the developers spent on that would’ve better been invested in more tables. The Multiplayer features don’t do Xbox Live any justice due to the lack of exciting game modes.

Final Score: 6 out of 10 - Average (How do we rate games?)

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25 comments on 'Review: Pinball FX'

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No voice chat online? You are shitting me?

Comment by Phocas on 2007-04-30 16:04:31 | Reply

That is not true.. I played a 4 player Multiplayer game last night and I could hear everyone.

Comment by x El Scorpio x on 2007-04-29 15:42:51 | Reply

I would have bought it for 400 MS Points but 800 is overkill with only 3 tables and it’s just pinball after all…maybe if they bring out a few tables for free I’d buy it

Comment by Studley on 2007-04-29 15:56:18 | Reply

This is pretty awful, wish I’d tried the demo first rather than just assuming it would be good. The ball seems to move around too fast, and it’s too easy to just lose the ball because the table dynamics aren’t quite right.

As for the camera integration… what a waste of effort. Sure, in THEORY you can control the flippers with your arms, except it frequently fails to respond even if your arms are within the target zones, meaning you end up losing balls and it’s completely pointless to use.

Comment by MartyMoose on 2007-04-29 16:22:16 | Reply

love this game… getting better everyday. looking for the top of the leaderboard so look out……lol.

Comment by Grommell on 2007-04-29 17:51:13 | Reply

This games awesome. Ive spent more time playing this pinball game than certain retail 360 games. There is alot of depth to the three tables, even at 800 points its worth it. Cant wait for the new tables, hopefully they’re priced right.

Comment by tom on 2007-04-29 18:03:51 | Reply

Games fun indeed, 2nd board is terrible, but the other two are a pleasure to play. Waiting for more boards to come, and hopefully they are not too spendy.

Comment by UKJAY on 2007-04-29 18:37:40 | Reply

I bought it despite being over priced at 800 points. Its fun, but only about a weeks worth of play in it…

Comment by Dieter on 2007-04-29 20:07:13 | Reply

There is voice chat in online play, as well as webcam support, which is actually quite cool (added with some trasnparency so it doesnt get in the way).

Overall this game is awesome, and totally worth 800 points. The tracks seem quite simple at first, however they are incredbily hard to get decent scores on (over 100 million).

I’d highly recommend this game to anyone, I’ve been playing it everyday since release and only now am I starting to work out some of the cooler rewards. My best score is 199 million on the Speed table, so there is a lot more to work out.

Yea I just found out, in the 20 games I played prior before reviewing, literally nobody was saying anything. Thanks for pointing it out though :)

Comment by ghostdog on 2007-05-01 11:46:18 | Reply

This is a quality pinball game.Your skills in the art of reviewing are non-existent.Your an idiot.

And you can’t spell.

Comment by StGermain on 2007-04-29 23:23:37 | Reply

I love this game… the force feedback from the bumpers makes this game feel more like the real thing than any of it’s predecessors. It’s worth the 800 points, come on… where else are you gonna be entertained for two weeks for about 10$/€? The game does have its little flaws though, it’s annoying to have to look on the scoreboards to know the highscore for the board you’re playing, they could have put that in the dot matrix. Another thing I’m missing is the ability to win an extra game and the countdown you get on real tables where you can also win an extra game. Seeing your 10 best scores for each board would be nice too, maybe with a name besides it as this is something you play with the entire family. Maybe the developers can fix these quirks when they bring out new tables? One can only hope :)

“where else are you gonna be entertained for two weeks for about 10$/€?”

A cheap Amsterdam Brothel!

Comment by mass9 on 2007-04-30 15:24:10 | Reply

“….If you’ve never played a pinball game before ….”

Are there actually people out there that haven’t played pinball before? lol.

Comment by KultiVator on 2007-04-30 18:22:11 | Reply

This is actually one of the better Live Arcade games - and the most impressive interpretation of pinball since Pinball Dreams / Pinball Fantasies on the Amiga all those moons ago.

Does a great job of reproducing a late 1980s / early 1990s pinball machine, complete with the many mini-games and missions that take considerable time and skill to complete.

Love it.

This and Jetpac have made the spring a good time on Live Arcade.

KultiVator

Comment by Worms on 2007-04-30 18:39:03 | Reply

Ball physics seem off to me. Seems like the ball has a bit too much gravity.

Comment by StGermain on 2007-04-30 22:39:47 | Reply

That would depend entirely on the angle of the pinball machine… It’s been a couple of years since I played any real machines but it looks fine to me.

Comment by KultiVator on 2007-05-01 11:16:32 | Reply

Plays pretty good - the physics feel pretty accurate to me - EVEN when multiball situations crop up.

Anyone worked out the sequence needed to trigger multiball on SPeed-machine - I’ve no idea what triggers it but it is great when it happens?!?!

KultiVator

Comment by Nekro on 2007-05-03 00:55:04 | Reply

Only thing I’m disappointed about is that the multiball is only 2 balls. If only they had 3 or 4 balls flying around.
It’s a big ask, but I’d love to see some real tables put onto the dlc. I played Williams Pinball Classics and even though they looked accurate, the ball physics was awful.

Comment by Nekro on 2007-05-04 22:54:23 | Reply

I retract this statement, I found there is more than 1 multiball mode

Comment by Druidvideo on 2007-05-04 08:40:36 | Reply

I laugh at all the attention deficit people complaining its only got a weeks worth of play. Too bad for you. While not perfect it still alot of fun and something different frmo the other games available. Same goes for Mini golf. Best fun I;ve had in ages

Comment by P-niiice on 2007-05-13 23:37:00 | Reply

Excellent pinball game. Highly recommended, but only to those who love pinball. If you’re not a pinball geek, get the demo first for your decision.

Comment by Jasonic on 2007-05-14 01:33:07 | Reply

I am a “pinball geek” and this is pinball done right.
Can’t wait for future tables.

Comment by kim j0ng on 2007-06-12 21:29:34 | Reply

Im Am The Pinball Wizard!!

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