Pinball FX 2 & Marvel Expansion Pack – Review

Release Date: Pinball FX2 is out now! The Marvel Expansion Pack will be available to download on the 8th of December.
Developer: Zen Studios
Publisher: Zen Studios
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: Yes

When Pinball FX 2 released I sadly didn’t have the time to cover it, but Zen (the games Developers and Publishers) gave me the chance to get my hands on the Marvel expansion which adds four Marvel Comics themed tables to the game, how could I resist?

Pinball FX2 is actually free, you download the base game and then pay for which tables you want to download and add to your collection. For the sake of this review I’ll be speaking as if you’d download Pinball FX2 and the Marvel Expansion which is released on the 8th of December for 8oo Microsoft Points. Other tables can be bought for as little as 200 Microsoft Points.

I fondly remember playing Pinball when I was a kid, happily smashing the ball around the table with no real concept of what I was doing. Nice to know things haven’t changed really.

The basic are simple enough, you must use two or more Flippers to bounce a metal ball around a sloped table to score points – done by hitting certain things in order etc.
What doesn’t come across in such a description is how amazingly addictive this becomes, mostly in thanks to the beautiful and fun table designs.
The Marvel license has been done great justice with four iconic characters getting a table each: Wolverine, Blade, Spider-Man and Iron Man. Each table has unique idea’s and visual flair such as Sabretooth and Wolverine battling it out in the table as you try to hit the right things to make Wolverine win. The Blade table in particular looks fantastic when it changes to night mode. I can easily say that FX2 is beautiful to look at in general and the Marvel Tables just as much.

The Wolverine table includes Sabretooth and a Sentinental and has such events as the bonding of the Adamantium to Wolverines skeleton. It’s a favorite of mine already and has a lovely flowing feeling to the play.
The Blade table looks truly beautiful when it goes into night mode and you go vampire hunting, with Frost making a guest appearance.
Iron-Mans includes Whiplash and an interesting Vortex mode which spits out 6-8 balls onto the table, it’s insane stuff to play and makes for some frantic gameplay.
And finally Spidey has a table with Doctor Octupus and the Green Goblin taking the stage. You can fling Pumpkin Bombs around and fight Doc Ock. It’s also a quick table requiring good reflexes though it felt a little off to me.
Each of these tables feel incredibly well designed and use the license extremely well, and the characters historical events inspire some interesting features.

It’s hard to describe how addictive the gameplay on offer here actually is. It plays fast and fluid with reactions being important and can easily have several hours wasted in its gameplay. You can also customise a sizable amount of aspects of your Table, compete with both friends and the world on the leaderboards. Split-screen play is also included here along with multiplayer options  as well.

Each Table is well designed and layed out. The more casual player can simply hammer the ball around with some fun results and score decent points, but for those that wish to really get into it the biggest points come from having to hit specific things in a certain order which usually results in some cool things such as eight balls entering the table or Tony Stark donning his Iron Man suit to do battle with a foe on the table.

The main focus here is the physics of the game as in a game like Pinball it’s going to make or break your game and serious time has been into this aspect of the game. The ball moves with believable weight and the physics all feel as real to life as possible. Because of this attention to detail predicating your shots is entirely based upon skill rather than dumb luck.

Backing up the visual treat is a solid cast of voice actors, a surprise as you wouldn’t consider a Pinball a voice heavy game, but there is a decent bit here and for the most part it’s extremely well done and matches the table well.
The musical track is also well done, with a mixture of music to back every table.

I can’t help but notice this is a short review, but little more can be said: the gameplay is fun and addictive, the graphics superb and the use of the Marvel License amazing.
I can find little here, with the only possible exception being to get all the tables for the game is a sizable investment in money.
However, considering the core game is free, there is little reason why you shouldn’t give this a shot as every table can be demoed for free.

And finally for those looking for a judgement on whether the Marvel Expansion pack is worth the 800 Microsoft Points tag then the simple answer is yes, if you love Pinball then you’ll be happy with the pack, as will anyone with a love of Marvel. It is fairly pricey, so for those who play Pinball only a little trying them out first is recommended.

The Good:
+ Wolverine kicks ass.
+ Pinball is stupidly addictive
+ Competing with friends.

The Bad:
– Losing that massive multiplier.
– Pricey if you wish to buy everything.


Graphics: 9
The tables all look very nice and detailed.

Sound: 8
Good voice acting and music work.

Story: 0
There isn’t one.

Gameplay: 9
Addictive, fast and fun. What more could be said?

Lifespan: 7.5
A tough one to judge. It’s easy to become addicted and spend many hours in the game, or you may just enjoy a game or two a week.

Overall: 9
A brilliant and fun addition to the Arcade that brings back the joy of playing the real tables.

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