If there is one thing Zen Studios has down to a science it’s making good pinball games. The previous super hero tables developed for Pinball FX2 were top notch and kept fans coming back for more. The variety of and level of detail put into them has always been amazing. This week sees the release of Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles for XBLA and PSN. Let’s see if these Avengers’ tables blow away the competition just like the recent movie did.
This pack includes 4 brand new silverball courses all revolving around the Avengers and their battles: The Avengers: the Movie, World War Hulk, The Infinity Gauntlet and Fear Itself. Each of these tables is brought to life in stunning HD. You will be hard pressed to find any spots where detail is lacking, as almost everything moves or responds to movement on screen. Pinball is a pretty simple game overall, hit the ball into things and up ramps to increase the score. Zen Studios has added a little to that, as my score went up I unlocked missions and sub-missions. As I progressed and dug further into each table new pieces of dialog and character animations would take place on screen immersing me deeper into the battle.
There is the standard single player mode, split screen for local multi player and Xbox Live play, which includes the normal one on one and Hotseat play. The former sees multiple players on the same table and as a player loses a ball the next starts. This goes until one person is left and declared the winner.
The Avengers: The Movie table is the first and, of course, biggest table in the group. The story and objectives revolve around the same plot as the recent big screen blockbuster. The biggest pull with this table has to be the ability to select your ball which coincidences with a character from the movie. Each ball also granted me a different ability which ranged from increased skill shots to additional ball saves. This unique twist had a direct affect on how each game played out.
This table was hands down my favorite, and I found myself going back to it even after spending time with the others. The ability to chose character pinballs that affected the table differently really kept me engaged. The Avengers table also seemed the biggest and had the most ramps, characters and action. I loved hearing the different characters chime in when you using their specific pinball. At times there was so much going on that I would find myself enthralled with the on screen action, and my ball would drop. This table alone is worth the price of admission considering the HD beauty and depth from the different character selection.
The second included table is World War Hulk. The story here follows Hulk who was tricked into space by Tony Stark and some other super heroes using a decoy of Nick Fury. Opening the bonus play area known as Arena allows for a mini game versus various heroes and villains.
This table also carries a great level of HD detail. The world seemed so alive and vibrant. I had some issues with playing this table, namely trying to keep up with my ball in the midst of things happening like a bunch of lights flashing as something moved on screen. This led to me realizing my demise as the ball fell past the final set of bumpers because the on-screen commotion finally let up. This did get a little better as I went on, because visual cues like smoke behind the speeding ball got a knee jerk flipper shot from me. I spent a lot of time just hammering the flippers when the screen went nuts to avoid losing my ball. This worked, but took away all skill.
Table number three is the Infinity Gauntlet. This is a storyline that revolves around “godlike” Thanos, who has a glove for which the table is named after. Thanos has elemental gems in his glove that allow him to rule the universe. The objective here is to remove the gems from the Infinity Gauntlet by bashing and taking certain ramps on the table. Once you have hit the required amount of ramps or skill shots, a mini game will open up on a separate table much like Arena on the World War Hulk table.
This table also carried the same high level of polish as the last two. I could not even get near to defeating Thanos. The issue here lies in his ability to control reality and the flippers. He could routinely switch my controls and even turn the table upside down. The frustration level here is almost at maximum as I had to hold back from slamming the controller and giving my pets heart attacks. I will come back to this table once the others are defeated, because this was easily my least favorite of the four.
Fear Itself is the last table included in the pack. This story is pretty expansive and follows Captain America and Thor as they deal with Serpent, the Asgardian deity of fear, as it attempts to reclaim the Asgard throne. We also get to see Sin who uses the hammer of Skadi to launch your pinball at request.
This table is also another piece of art. I found myself pausing to take in the intricate details, which again led to dropped balls and cursing. The only real issue with this table lies in the bumper placement. On either side toward the bottom, pieces of Captain America’s cracked shield conceal the bumpers, or so it seems. Many times it looked as if my ball would be connecting directly with a bumper only to drop and miss my flipper. Other times the bumper/shield would catch my ball and send it off unexpectedly. This is in no way a deal breaker for the table, but it’s an annoyance for sure.
I really loved the real time score keeping against my other friends on Xbox Live. A small box appeared on screen as I played, showing friends I was close to beating them. Once I did defeat them, a screen greeted me post game showing my avatar on a podium above them. The score is cumulative across all tables in Pinball FX2 meaning that even if you are a poor player on these tables, your prior success may keep you in the lead.
All of the tables controlled very well and held the high standard that Zen Studios has set for anyone looking to challenge the virtual pinball throne. At the cost of 800 MS Points ($10), any Pinball FX fan is in for a real treat. The detail is downright breathtaking, and players will be “losing balls” just to soak up some of the beauty. I just wish I could figure out why they went with a single achievement of 50 gamer points for each table when in the past points were spread across multiple achievements. I guess I’ll just have to play some more. Oh, darn.
+ Excellent visuals and detail.
+ Great use of the Marvel license.
+ Controls are spot on.
+ This is a great value for 4 different tables.
- Some table design is lacking like bumper placement on Fear Itself.
- Too much happening on screen can lead to ball loss.
- Some enemy A.I. is just too difficult like Thanos of the Infinity Gauntlet table.
- Why did Zen Studios go with 50 point single achievements across all 4 tables?
8 and 8.5 represent a game that is a good experience overall. While there may be some issues that prevent it from being fantastic, these scores are for games that you feel would easily be worth a purchase.
Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles was developed by Zen Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360. The MSRP is $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points and a review code was supplied to RipTen for review purposes.