Pinball FX 2: Marvel Pinball Review

Pinball FX 2 is a bit of an anomaly on Xbox LIVE Arcade. The game is technically free, but each board must be bought separately. It’s strange, but it works well for the genre, and allows players to spend very little if they only want to get a board or two. Click here to read our review of the game without the benefits of the Marvel characters.

The previous boards have been fun, but mostly generic. With the exception of the Rocky and Bullwinkle and Street Fighter boards, they have all been trademark free, and frankly forgettable. That is not to say they weren’t fun, because they were, but I can’t remember the names of any of the boards with out referring to the game. I know one had a lot to do with water, and I vaguely recall another being about Roman gladiators… I think.

The Marvel-themed boards set themselves apart from the previous boards for many reasons, and they guarantee that you will not forget them. The fact that they are directly associated with recognizable Marvel superheroes and villains obviously makes them more interesting, but their layouts, and the way bonuses and high scores are achieved also makes them infinitely more interesting.

There are four Marvel-themed boards available now, and they are all interesting and fun. There is a Wolverine board, a Spider-Man board, an Iron Man board and Blade board. All of the boards feature their respective heroes physically built in to the board, along with at least two of their villains. What this means is that as you are pinballing your way to victory, these heroes and villains will be literally standing on the board.

Pinball FX 2 prides itself on its realism with its believable physics and flawless frame rate. The game looks and plays so smoothly that you are never reminded that you are not actually playing real pinball. To see these heroes and villains standing on the board seems almost out of place compared to the rest of the boards, but it is far and away the game’s coolest feature, and one that is absolutely welcome. They all talk, spouting poorly acted catch phrases, and will sometimes directly interact with the ball. It’s very cool, and it’s something that you will never see on a real pinball machine.

The Wolverine and Iron Man boards are the least interesting of the four boards, but they still have much to offer. Wolverine and Sabretooth both hang out on the Wolverine board, and Tony Stark and Whiplash can both be seen on the Iron Man board. As your score progresses on the Iron Man board, Stark will suit up to take on the role as Iron Man. The banter from Stark also proves to be the most worthwhile as he will arbitrarily spout lines about wanting to drink, or how amazing a businessman he is.

The Spider-Man and Blade boards are definitely the highlights of the collection. Blade seems like an odd choice at first, especially considering the plethora of other more popular Marvel heroes available to theme pinball boards around (Hulk anyone?), but after a few rounds it makes sense. Blade’s board uses day and night rounds to dramatically alter the board every few minutes. You have to gather power (i.e. score) to save up before night falls. It’s an interesting dynamic, because elements of the board will be literally shrouded in darkness at night, making aiming for specific areas more difficult.

The Spider-Man board is fun because it moves at a faster pace than the other boards. Spider-Man’s web slinging is thematically emulated with the the ball tracks that twist and turn to a much higher degree than on the other boards. Goblin will fly around at times, dropping bombs and additional balls, and will sometimes reverse your triggers. When that happens the left button activates the right bumper, and vice versa, and it is incredibly confusing, annoying, and cool.

Pinball FX 2 is the best downloadable pinball available, and the Marvel boards are the best yet. The great gameplay and well executed, competitive nature of the game with online friends has always kept you coming back from more, and the Marvel boards are going to keep you coming back with even more enthusiasm. The inescapable fact remains, though, that it’s just pinball. It probably won’t drive new fans to the genre, but it also won’t give those who do like pinball much to complain about.

4 out of 5


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Author: Kyle Hilliard View all posts by

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