Pinball FX3 – Star Wars Pinball: The Last Jedi Review

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room – I liked Star Wars The Last Jedi. I thought it was a constantly engaging, fun, and surprisingly risky franchise movie which potentially paves the way for less safe options (looking at you Han Solo). Yes, I admit it has its issues; it is bloated, doesn’t necessary stick to the cohesive narrative which was started in Force Awakens but here’s the thing, we live in a reactionary, binary world where everything is either the worst thing ever or the best thing ever.

Full disclosure, before writing this review I had never played a real life game of Pinball. My original Pinball experience comes from playing the old windows game in high school. However, stepping into HMV I discovered a Family Guy table, and in Glasgow I found a Marvel table. So, I have some real world comparisons I can draw upon in this review.

Zen Studios are well-known for their digital pinball tables. With over seventy tables released to date. Including licenses such as Jurassic Park, Marvel and Star Wars. Pinball FX3 is a free update to the previous FX2 which focused on contemporary multiplayer options. Whilst we are looking specifically at the Last Jedi tables, much of what is said can be transferred to the game as a whole.

The last Jedi pack features two new tables for players to get their balls into.  The Last Jedi table is, fittingly, one of the most complex tables that Zen Studios have in their collection. Not only does it boast multiple levels, but it also has seven flippers and significantly more bumpers than your average table as well. All of which makes “The Last Jedi” table a bit slower than most of the other Star Wars Pinball tables, though also a bit more strategic, since it makes it that much more important for you to try and line up your shots.

Conversely, the “Ahch-To Island” table is a bit simpler, though it also boasts an unusually high number of flippers, with two of its five being oddly close together. Otherwise, though, it’s largely just a selection of ramps and passageways, and not a lot of bumpers or other mechanics, save for a spinning platform that can fling the ball in unexpected ways. As a result, the ball can really fly on this table, making it more of a reflex challenge than the previous.

Without a doubt the tables both look great, with my preference going to the Last Jedi table. The colours are vivid and well proportioned. It felt authentic to the movie in both the visuals and sounds. And this is where a lot of the draw of the gameplay comes from – the fan service. From iconography and imagery, to authentic sound effects and music. It’s a delight to the senses albeit slightly confusing that they were unable to use audio samples of dialogue from the movie which makes for an odd experience; Daisy Ridley’s voice actress is spot on, whereas Mark Hamill’s leaves a lot to be desired.

The design is a well proportioned balance of realism and fantastical mechanisms. However, as the game progresses the balance tipped; the table became a cacophony of sound and motion which became distracting and ultimately it was difficult to concentrate on the ball itself.

In addition to regular scoring, each table now has three different challenge modes and nine different ways to upgrade scoring. The new multiplayer features are designed to increase replayability and offer new incentives to play (or even buy) older tables too. These modes include matchups and tournaments. In Matchup, you play an asynchronous game against an opponent and earn points if you win. Zen Studios selects the four tables that are part of the week, and the player chooses between three players to compete against. Winning gives you the listed number of league points (plus potential bonuses), while losing causes you to lose a few league points. Playing in a tournament ranks your score on a specific table with everyone else in the tournament, which determines your place in the tournament. Players can join tournaments or create their own, in turn tailoring the rules to suit.

Whilst the inclusion of the multiplayer boasts the longevity of the game, for me, whether it’s Star Wars or another property included, it’s the fandoms that will get people to pull that first shooter rod. The Last Jedi tables offer bright and colourful space adventure fun, but can all too easily become distracting.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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