XBLA Review: Pinball FX 2

In 2007, an HD Pinball simulation was released on Xbox Live Arcade. The game, Pinball FX, was praised for being the best looking Pinball simulation on the market, but as a game, it left players looking for more bang for their buck. The title featured three tables, with the ability to download more tables at a cost. Eventually, the number of tables available for the title increased to nine, but by then, players had spent much more than the original buy-in price of $10.

Now, with Pinball FX 2, players can carry on with the functionality of the original Pinball FX with upgraded features. You can even import the tables you may have from Pinball FX into Pinball FX 2. The only issue with this, however, is that if you never got into Pinball FX before now, the first title in the series, along with all of its DLC has vanished, meaning you will never be able to experience those pinball tables. Luckily, Zen Studios has released a "Classic Collection" DLC pack which allows those that may have missed some of the tables from the original title to grab some of them.

Visually, Pinball FX 2 is amazing. The tables look crisp and clear and the ball moves through the table in a very realistic manner. The HD graphics are so spectacular that sometimes you'll forget that you are playing a pinball simulation and not just a pinball game.

Several improvements have been made over the first title and the developers are definitely not bashful about it. When you first start up the title, you'll see a short tutorial about all of the new features. Covered in this tutorial is the new physics engine, the streamlined menu, the realistic graphics, the new table designs, splitscreen multiplayer, and the backwards compatibility with Pinball FX. There's even a really cool new feature that allows you to tune nearly every aspect of each table, down to exactly how level or un-level the table is.

One of the coolest features, depending on your friends list, is the Wizard Score feature. The feature automatically pools your friends top scores on each table to determine who the real pinball wizard is on your friends list. You can also team up with friends to see if you can achieve the highest team score.

So with all of these new features, the main remaining question is, how does the game play? Well, it plays like pinball, of course! But that description is doing it an injustice. You could say the game that comes preloaded on most PC's plays like pinball. This game, however, is without a doubt the most realistic pinball simulation ever released. The physics engine is amazing, and really shines when you're playing multi-ball.

The table designs are also very well made. There is a lot to do on each table and it remains realistic, while at the same time, does things that you would never see on a real table design. It's for this reason that Pinball FX 2 is perfect for those that love pinball, but don't have the room or the noise tolerance to stock up on several tables in their house.

Pinball FX 2, as mentioned before, is a great pinball simulation, but unfortunately, that means that the target audience is very limited and so is the scope of the overall game. The title does make some great strides towards improving upon the first title in the series, but at the end of the day, the game is still based on something that isn't so prevalent in today's culture. With arcades near extinction and pinball going with it, Pinball FX 2 is a great way to preserve a possible past time of yours, but if you aren't huge into pinball, don't expect the title to grip you for more than a few playthroughs of each table.