Pinball FX 2: Marvel Civil War Review

I have to admit, I’m by no means a great pinball player.  It’s been many, many years since I’ve actually played on a physical pinball table and in that time I’ve only sporadically played on video game versions of the popular pastime – although when I have I have usually found that I’m reasonably competent at them.  But even with  my relative lack of skill I was still surprised at how tough this table is.

Based on Marvel’s ‘Civil War’ comic book arc which saw superheroes clash over the introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act (SRH), which required all superheroes to register their identities with the American government.  Iron Man led the pro-SRH force while Captain America opposed him as leader of the anti-SRH rebellion and the table does a great job in portraying this conflict, starting with the innovate feature of letting you choose which side to represent.  Features and objectives do differ between the two sides which is a nice touch although the main aim still remains converting the 8 neutral heroes (Spider-Man, Ms Marvel, Vision, Human Torch, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman, Sentry and Tigra) to your group to earn the big points.

The portrayal of the whole conflict was for me the highlight of this particular table.  An industrial chrome design is lit up with areas of red and blue – most notably the ramps and the gesticulating figures of Iron Man and Cap on either side.  Meanwhile a news reporter dramatically narrates the ongoing events while the two protagonists shout out commands, and despite hearing the same comments a hundred times, the voice acting is satisfying enough for it to not become irritating – and it’s complemented by a suitably stirring soundtrack.

However my initial high hopes were dealt a blow when I actually started playing and with a lack of any clear instructions found myself very confused at what I should be doing.  There’s a lot going on in the table with very little guidance on what everything does, and I can state from experience that blindly hitting the ball upwards in a desperate attempt to score points is not a good tactic – events and timed challenges get initiated which you’ll likely fail to complete in time, which then results in a neutral characters joining the opposing team.  Things improved slightly once I found a comprehensive online guide to the table, but even with this information available to me I still struggled as a high degree of timing and accuracy is needed to hit the necessary targets, while the lower end of the table is similarly unforgiving with unlucky ricochets regularly ending up in the outlanes (and I’m sure the flippers are further apart than usual).

Despite this I have to appreciate the table itself is very entertaining and extremely gratifying when everything does click into place after a lot (and I mean a lot) of practice.  Luckily there’s very little delay in getting a new game started when you do hit the ‘Game Over’ screen, and you can even choose to skip the multiball mini-game at the start (in which case your previous best score at the mini-game is automatically applied) .  The comic-book geek in me also continued to relish all the little touches like the fact the audio quotes are taken directly from the comic, and some lesser known characters like the Thunderbolts and Taskmaster get to feature.

Experienced players looking for a more challenging table will no doubt relish the difficulty, but everyone else will likely want to start off on some of the other less-demanding tables available in the FX 2 range.  However regardless of your skill level, I would strongly advise any newcomers to the table first to check out the guide available on Zen Studios blog at  http://blog.zenstudios.com/?p=2486 where you can also freely download the soundtrack.

Bonus Stage Rating - Good 7/10

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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