The folks at ZEN Studios know pinball. Seriously. If you missed any of my previous reviews of their releases, suffice to say that Pinball FX2 made a believer out of me, and it’s my most played game ever on the Xbox Live Arcade, as my Raptr profile will attest. They got everything right, from awesome table designs to great multiplayer and friends list integration. Perhaps Pinball FX2‘s greatest asset, though, is that it’s more of a platform than just a game. I have referred to it as the Rock Band of pinball, and I think the analogy holds up. On its own, Pinball FX2 is a free download that runs the virtual pinball engine, and the big assortment of downloadable tables plugs in for easy access.
Since the game’s arrival on the XBLA last October, ZEN has been dropping new tables onto the Marketplace pretty regularly. All the tables have been fun, but the ones that have been the most popular and, arguably, the most fun are the ones inspired by Marvel Comics characters. The first Marvel offering featured Iron Man, Blade, Spider-Man, and Wolverine, with the Fantastic Four highlighted in a more recent release. This week, leading up to both the Fourth of July and the release of Marvel’s next big movie, ZEN has released their newest Marvel table, introducing Captain America into the pinball action.
Largely inspired by the Captain America 65th Anniversary Special comic issue from 2006, the Captain America table takes the game back to World War II to team Cap up with Bucky and the Howling Commandos against Red Skull and Baron Zemo. The theming on the table is some of the best of the Marvel releases, making use of retro fonts and bold colors to represent the patriotic hero and the signature time period of his origin. The overall table is strapped into a WWII era plane, with an open door showing the sky on the right side of the machine. The table itself is decorated with some great Captain America imagery as the background for lots of great looking battlefield props. Army medals adorn the bumpers near the flippers, while sandbags and parachutes provide obstacles and goals farther up the table. The lanes and chutes are battlefield trenches, leading to the upper sections of the table.
Captain America and the Red Skull face off at the top of the table as animated characters, occasionally interacting when the pinball triggers various missions and modes. Baron Zemo and the Sleeper also show up from time to time. All the featured characters have dialogue, as do the four key members of the Howling Commandos. There’s a ton of fantastic non-verbal sound on this table as well. In fact, the Captain America table might have some of my favorite sound effects in all of Pinball FX2. The sounds of a World War II battle ring out as the pinball careens around the table. The lowest bumpers emit gunshots when the ball hits them, lending the illusion of additional weight and punch to the ball. It makes the gameplay more visceral and the table’s setting more immersive.
The missions and modes always are the stars in Pinball FX2, and there are a lot of cool options and opportunities on this table. Cap will find himself fending off Baron Zemo’s death ray, getting into some fisticuffs with the Red Skull, and even dealing with the Cosmic Cube. Most of the missions come from stories inspired by the 65th Anniversary Special, but there’s plenty of material from Cap’s other adventures as well. As with previous table releases, several of the missions are tied into three new achievements that add 50 Gamerscore to the ever growing possible pool for Pinball FX2.
If you’re a fan of the previous Pinball FX2 tables, Captain America will bring you even more of the addictive fun you’ve come to expect. And if you’ve never tried the game… For real, what are you waiting for? Pinball FX2 is very nearly a perfect game for the XBLA platform, and each table released makes it that much more fun.