Review: Pinball FX 2 And Guardians Of The Galaxy Table on Xbox One

Zen Studios’ Pinball FX games have found a lot of success, bringing the thrill of old school pinball machines to a new generation. Hitting them high scores and that “just one more go” attitude are just a part of what used to keep people at the tables for hours. Still does, for a certain generation.

And that’s exactly why Pinball FX 2 is so popular.

A free download on Xbox 360, you then only pay money for the tables you want. They’re reasonably priced so, unlike the dreaded micro-transactions that have been so maligned in recent years, Pinball FX 2’s method actually benefits the players. Historically, most pinball players would find a table or two that they love and stick to those, so you may find yourself buying a select few tables and just playing them over and over. And you will only be down maybe £6, for something that will keep you coming back for weeks or even months. After that, you may find a great number of new tables have arrived and you have the choice of adding to your collection and starting the cycle over.

Now that Pinball FX 2 has landed on Xbox One, you can continue enjoying the tables you love in even more stunning detail and with a smooth 60fps framerate.

The free download on Xbox One comes with one table, with plenty of layers for a lengthy and rewarding experience. It offers boss battles and secret areas, multiple tiers and switching routes, all with an engaging and atmospheric soundtrack.

Any owners of the 360 game will also find that they can import their previously-owned tables into the Xbox One version with minimal fuss. Just find the table within the new version, select the “Buy/Import Table” option, complete the £0 transaction and you’ll be ready to go after a swift download. It really is that simple, the two I imported were downloaded within a minute.

The newly released Guardians of the Galaxy table offers even more for a small fee. Somehow recreating scenes from Marvel’s latest movie, you even get a multi-ball sequence to kick it all off in a nod to the prison break seen in the trailers.

Quotes from the movie (unfortunately not provided by the real actors, which is a bit disappointing) are littered throughout the countless scoring zones and boss fights, even a secret one that can only be found through opening a new area beneath the main table!

With animated characters strutting around the edge of the table including Starlord and Rocket Raccoon, the Guardians of the Galaxy table provides even more depth as they actively engage in the “story” as you progress. During boss battles with Ronan the Accuser (the movie’s villain also appears in all his animated glory) projectiles and gunfire are even exchanged as you attempt to hit the correct targets in order to win the fight.

It’s this attention to detail that will keep players coming back, happily spending hours at a time on one single table. Hell, I spent a good hour on the Guardians of the Galaxy table during my first play and I’m not even the biggest pinball fan in the world! It’s just great fun and chasing those high scores is intoxicating, especially when the game tells you how far off you are from your previous best. Almost taunting you if you fall short. “Just one more go,” it might say.

The table designs can be a little too intricate though, leaving the player struggling to follow what’s going on or where they need to place the ball for maximum points. However, the pause menu does offer a unique guide feature that can help counteract the frustration that may build up, telling you all about the table’s features and how to unlock them all. It’s a welcome addition to the pinball simulation genre and is certainly handy for new players, giving them the chance to “examine the table” before playing proper.

And when you unpause the game? That’s right, another handy feature is the brief countdown before resuming the action. The game will offer you a three count instead of just throwing you back into the game, meaning that you won’t lose that long session because the phone rang. Or nature did.

When you are in the action, which will happen quickly as load times are almost non-existent on Xbox One, the controls are about as intuitive as they come – triggers/bumpers control the left and right flippers, left stick nudges the table in the relevant direction and the right stick/A button launches the ball to kick things off. Within seconds you’ll be playing without even thinking about which button does what, you’ll be having too much fun racking up the points and desperately trying to stop the ball from dropping between the flippers.

The physics never feel cheap either, only very rarely throwing the ball in an odd direction but usually they’re realistic and fair. 99% of the time, a “game over” is the result of your own mistake or slow reactions, which is precisely how it should be in a game like this.

With a huge line-up of tables from the likes of Star Wars, Deadpool, The Avengers and many other Marvel franchises already available, and with tables based on The Walking Dead and Street Fighter II on the way, you will almost certainly find a table or two to enjoy for the coming weeks.

Or months.

Jim Smale

Gaming since the Atari 2600, I enjoy the weirdness in games counting Densha De Go and RC De Go as my favourite titles of all time. I prefer gaming of old where buying games from a shop was a thing, Being social in person was a thing. Join me as I attempt to adapt to this new digital age!