Zen Pinball 2 Review - Welcome to the Machine

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I would start this review by saying “back in my day”, but seeing as how I’m only twenty four years old, I think I’m outside the boundaries of having the wisdom and credibility to use such a statement. Despite all that, I’m going to use it anyway. Back in my day, we had these places where you could go in and buy coins called tokens. These tokens were a unique currency to that place and that place alone. With these token, you could gain access to massive arcade games throughout the building.

Brace yourselves, because this is where it gets real. They had these things called Pinball tables. Glorious devices that ran not on graphics and effects, but instead were pure and efficient machines designed for one purpose: fun. Yes my friends, an entire machine of buzzers, flashing lights and whirring noises that serves no other purpose but to thrill and excite you. These days, such incredible machines have become relics of a time long past. Still, there are those who would preserve the wonder and mystery of these machines through the magic of modern technology.

Ladies and gentlemen, Pinball is not dead, it lives on! Welcome to my Zen Pinball 2 review for the PS4!

Zen Pinball 2 was originally on the PS3, and now it had made the jump to the PS4. The game works on a free-to-play model that involves you downloading the base game and purchasing tables to add into it. One table comes free with the download, the Sorcerer’s Lair. This free table is a great way to lose some time, but when you look at the other tables on offer, you just have to have them. One feature I really enjoyed was the fact that any tables can be downloaded first as a demo so you can get a minute or two with it and see what you think.

Needless to say, I downloaded a few tables myself. The single tables cost $2.50 apiece, and they also offer three packs currently that come with four tables each for $9.99. I may or may not have gotten one of these packs as well as two single tables (I did). Just as a overview of the game before we get into specific tables, I’ll start with the features. Each table features full 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second gameplay. It’s smooth and it looks great. The tables are all detailed and the individual mechanics are well animated and engaging to watch.

Zen Pinball 2 ReviewPlaying is simple, you just hold X to launch the ball and from there, the triggers on your controller will control the flippers on either side of the table. You’ll also see tables with multiple levels and extra flippers to take into consideration. Flicking the analogue stick lets you rock the table for that extra push in whatever direction you need. For the Pinball enthusiasts, you can also access the operator menu of each table which allows for an insane level of customization. Needless to say, I left everything alone, but the option is there.

Before entering each table, you can view a tutorial about the table’s various features, score bonuses, and events that can be triggered. One thing I loved about this game was how the tables features moving characters, 3D models, and even mini games associated with reaching certain goals in the table. The level of interactivity is staggering, even if the minute to minute gameplay involves simple inputs from the player. Before we reach a final verdict, allow me to give you a quick idea of the tables I sampled in my time with the game.

The Sorcerer’s Lair Table #1: The Sorcerer’s Lair
This table is a great one to start off with as it features a classic sorcerer fantasy setting that anyone can appreciate. The art on the table is whimsical and the back of the table features an actual 3D model a sorcerer stirring a cauldron of green potion. Getting a shot up towards the sorcerer will cause him to interact directly with the ball. I even managed to get the ball into a side area where it triggered a separate mini game.

Paranormal Table #2: Paranormal
This was one of the single tables I purchased. This table has multiple 3D models moving in the top and bottom of the table along with an awesome looking haunted house in the background that I have yet to reach. The setting here with this one is eerie and fun, with lots of macabre themes in the art on the table and the interactive elements. One of my favorites.

Earth Defense Table #3 Earth Defense
This was the other table I purchased on a whim after trying the demo. This one has a sixties sci-fi style where the earth is being invaded by aliens. The centerpiece here is a 3D model of a massive alien robot in the back of the table. I haven’t had a lot of time with this table, but I did see an exciting moment where the robot caught my pinball and then fired it back onto the table.

Marvel: Avengers Chronicle Table Pack: Marvel: Avengers Chronicle
This was the only pack I purchased so far, and this one included four Marvel themed tables. One was an avenger table, one is a Hulk table, and the last two are entitled “Fear Itself” and “The Infinity Gauntlet”. I sampled all of these tables and found these to be the most detailed and exciting of them all. I would highly recommend this one.

The Final Verdict
I’ve always appreciated Pinball, but thanks to Zen Pinball 2, I absolutely love it. This game is the best simulation of Pinball I’ve experienced and for that it gets major points. If you’re looking for a pinball game, and let’s face it, who isn’t, then this one is for you. It allows you to try it for free, or go all in and buy extra tables. Thank you Zen Pinball 2 for reminding me how much I miss these beautiful machines.

Final Score: 9/10

Game Category: Pinball

Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 01/22/2014

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