Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Reviewer: Nick Stewart
Overall: 9 = Must Buy
Few providers of DLC have proven themselves to be as consistent and reliably fantastic as Zen Studios. Since the release of their original Pinball FX on the Xbox 360, their efforts have been a dream for anyone who’s a fan of that silver ball as they have, without fail, provided no end of excellent DLC tables. The recent Marvel Pinball pack was a great example of a developer at the top of their game, and it’s a theme they’ve kept up with through their latest release, a Fantastic Four-themed table. In many ways, it’s their greatest work yet, and even those who don’t care much for this superhero team will find much to love.
If you’ve played any of the previous Zen Studios tables—and you wouldn’t be reading this review if you haven’t—you know what to expect here: the table is festooned with all manner of Fantastic Four imagery, with strong blues and silvers surrounding the standing versions of the team as they loom over the board. Clad in their classic suits, each member of the team springs to life as the player sends the silver ball off in different directions, each appropriate to their comic book origins. For instance, The Thing clobbers the ball to the other end of the board in advance of a potential multiball, while Sue Storm can toss up forcefields to prevent your ball from rolling into the gutters. Even the villains such as Dr. Doom, Galactus, and the Skrull have their own role to play on this sprawling table, and everything sounds as great as it looks, with top-notch voice acting that is appropriate without being overwhelming.
Of course, a great-looking table is pointless if it’s not fun to play, and it’s in the gameplay department that the Fantastic Four table really begins to shine. Although seemingly simple and straightforward with a few ramps and bumpers, it’s only through extended play that it becomes obvious just how much depth is present in this offering. Whether you’re taking down Dr. Doom’s minions with The Thing, helping Ms. Invisible to set up a force field perimeter, or helping to guard the Baxter Building from a Skrull invasion, there is plenty for pinballers to tackle.
With multiple multiball opportunities, numerous point multipliers and some pretty entertaining missions, it’s one of those classic “easy to learn, tough to master” experiences that makes it rather perfect for long-term play. The only issue here is that the trigger for those missions is located to the rear of the table, past several obstacles, and can be a challenge to activate. Beyond that, however, it’s fun without being frustrating, and patient players will find this to be a highly rewarding table, provided they enjoy the added difficulty.
With its recent Marvel Pinball pack, Zen Studios raised the bar on what virtual pinball could truly be; with its Fantastic Four table, they’ve once again set a standard that’ll be awful tough to beat. Its great visuals incorporate some of the most iconic aspects of these classic comic book figures, and are matched by excellent gameplay that offers a great deal of promise for long-term play. The only hitch is that this table is a bit more difficult than some of the other Zen offerings, but that serves nicely as part of its overall charm. It’s one of those rare instances where the license complements the gameplay rather than overwhelming or replacing it, and that is as solid a testament to the quality of this table as any. Quite simply one of the best pinball offerings out there, and if you own Pinball FX2, you’ll love this table.
(This review is based on a retail copy provided by the publisher.)