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Box ArtThe Digest: Rack up the points as you dive into ZEN Studios’ newest pinball addition. Polished, detailed, and most importantly fun, it’ll be the perfect game to unwind with after a hectic day or whenever you’re looking to enjoy a simple, challenging game of pinball.

THE FACT SHEET

RELEASE DATE: October 25, 2010
PUBLISHER: Microsoft Game Studios
DEVELOPER: ZEN Studios
ESRB RATING: “E” for Everyone
GENRE: Sports & Recreation
PRICE: Free, 200-800 MS Points for Tables

PRODUCT OVERVIEW: Pinball FX is back, and it is better than ever! Pinball FX2 offers brand new tables and a host of new features and improvements: new state-of-the-art physics model that surpasses anything available so far, full compatibility for Pinball FX owners, online races, hotseat and split-screen multiplayer modes, Operators Menu with custom settings and advanced play info.

PRODUCT FEATURES:

  • New social competition platform
  • Full backward compatibility for Pinball FX owners
  • Xbox LIVE Arcade owners who do not own Pinball FX can download Pinball FX2 and get trials of each table before they decide to buy
  • Detailed play stats for each table
  • “The Operators Menu” lets you customize practically every aspect of each Pinball FX2 table

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Pinball FX 2 takes all the good of a traditional pinball machine, upgrades it into HD, adds a whole level of customization, throws it into Xbox LIVE, and sells it for the low, low price of free. Can you find anything wrong with that sentence? Good, because neither could I. It’s hard to go wrong with pinball and luckily that didn’t happen to ZEN Studios who decided to piggyback off of their previous Pinball FX and make it even better.

Single Player:

Downloading the game straight off of the Game Marketplace (or even Destination Arcade) immediately immerses you in the world of pinball. Although the base free version comes with no pinball tables, you have the ability to download a trial for all of them. Gamers can try before they buy, helping them make an educated decision and picking tables that they want to play. There are two packs of four tables for 800 MS Points a pack, along with four additional classic maps for 200 MS Points a piece. If you have the original Pinball FX, you’re able to get the classic four maps for free by simply importing them into Pinball FX 2.

Despite having close to nothing available from the get-go, you’ll soon be drawn into the highly-detailed worlds. Each table has a unique theme with its own appropriate music track and art style making each level a new experience. Each world also has its own bonus options and customizations, much like a real pinball table would have. The level of detail ZEN Studios created with each level makes every time you play a unique and enjoyable experience.

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The music and graphics deserve a lot of recognition- Pinball FX 2 is probably one of the higher-level games up there in terms of how it looks and sounds. The colors seem rich and vivid making it appear extremely realistic and gave me the impression that there is a real-world counterpart available to buy/play. The soundtrack will have you starting Pinball FX 2 simply to listen to it while doing homework, reading a book, or if you just want to hear good music.

Pinball FX 2 isn’t without its faults though. Some of the mini-games for a specific table are confusing and you won’t know what you’re trying to do unless you look at the rule sheet, which broke the emersion a few times for me. Seeing what’s going on also can be a challenge, case in point the Rome table. Everything is the same shade of red, and trying to distinguish what was a pathway and what was a wall was confusing at times.

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Multiplayer:

There are two multiplayer modes, hotseat and race. Hotseat is aimed towards local multiplayer, pitting up to 4 players against each other. Each player gets three pinballs and takes turns playing on the same board. Whoever has the most amount of points at the end wins. Race is essentially the same thing except instead of taking turns, each player is on their own board and whoever gets to the set score first wins.

The multiplayer is the same as single player except with friends. With local play, both modes are available with race being split-screen, however on Xbox LIVE the only mode is race. There isn’t too much new with the multiplayer, but it is pinball and it has always been more of a single person game.

Conclusion:

Pinball FX 2 is an extremely polished set piece from ZEN Studios with an excellent soundtrack and addicting gameplay. Despite being not totally 100% free, any money spent on the tables will be well worth its price. Although the multiplayer is a little lacking, it’d be like complaining about not being able to play Blackjack against your friends and the modes that are available are challenging and fun. Overall, Pinball FX 2 is a worthy addition to your Arcade Collection, if you can find the time to play it over Black Ops.

PROS CONS
- Excellent soundtrack and graphics
– High replay value
– Unique levels with their own bonuses
- Weak multiplayer
– Confusing mini-games/special modes
– Not 100% “Free”

Single Player: 5/5 | Multi-Player: 4/5

Special thanks to Microsoft Games Studios for providing us with a copy of the game for review.

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