Review: Pinball FX2 VR: Season 1 Pack (DLC)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Pinball FX2 VR: Season 1 Pack
Format: PSN (427.8 MB)
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Original MSRP: $24.99 (US), €24.99 (EU), £19.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 3
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Review of the Original Game:

Pinball FX2 VR: Season 1 Pack is add-on content that contains five tables. They are CastleStorm, Wild West Rampage, BioLab, Paranormal, and Earth Defense. You only get three tables in the base game and one in the Walking Dead DLC, but are these tables worth your time and money?

Gameplay:
The add-on content incorporates into the main game and you can easily add any of the tables to your three favorites. All of the tables are born from the minds at Zen Studios and range from some of their first attempts to a couple of quite recent offerings. What surprised me is how different they feel in this new immersive environment.

As with all the other pinball tables on offer, the controls are perfect and somehow feel more natural in virtual reality. I believe that it’s down to the realistic view and minuscule movements that the PlayStation VR headset allows.

… a Chupacabra, Jersey Devil, Nessie, and a simplified Hellraiser cube …
Okay, onto the tables. First up we have BioLab. I loathed this one in the original Zen Pinball 2 game. It was too messy and reminded me of a Kandinsky painting. Now in this new environment, I can see a clearer definition between the table artwork and the bumpers, lanes, and orbits. I can now understand why it was so popular with the hardcore pinball gamers.

BioLab has a fun progression system where you create bizarre and wacky creatures, collect cookies, and stack up Kickbacks. It also features one of my favorite Video modes where you have to look after a creature, giving it flowers if it cries or food if it’s hungry. The mini game is easy and a good way of getting points by collecting cookies in a revolving maze.

The Paranormal table sunk its spindly nails into me a long time ago and I still like it today. It’s a peculiar cross between The X-Files and a 60’s reporter hot on the trail of urban legends. It has a Chupacabra, Jersey Devil, Nessie, and a simplified Hellraiser cube. Unlike almost every other table, it also has a large haunted mansion play area in the backbox.

I have found it more difficult to aim in the haunted mansion but much easier to activate the Video mode and only just noticed that the crocodile actually makes an appearance on the table near the plunger. I guess I was so focused on the ball in the older game and the view never really showed off all the little details like this.

… the only table where I discovered a hidden Skillshot …
The third table, Earth Defense, has always been a favourite of mine. It features one of the easiest Skillshots and uses the dot matrix display to show constantly moving crosshairs that need to be fired when lined up with the huge robot. The orbits flow around a massive alien robot that smashes into the side of the table and shoots at the ball.

It’s quite difficult and there’s a lot to learn with this table. There are a few tricky Hurry Up modes and devious Assignments, let alone the medals that you can lose if you fail at a few things. I found Earth Defense has one of the hardest sets of Kickbacks and Ball Saves in any of the tables.

The CastleStorm table is based on another of Zen Studios’ intellectual properties and is, in some ways, better than the original game. It’s an easy table to start with if you’re new to the genre but it’s difficult to master, especially with regard to the Hurry Up lanes. I can keep the pinball in the Castle Siege play area until that has been completed almost every single time.

There are two Multiball modes. Both are quite easy to accomplish and a good way of racking up the points, one just needs you to keep the balls in play for a set duration. Try to go for the bumpers in this table to get those important Kickbacks.

Wild West Rampage features a Bounty Hunter called Cindy who aims to rid a town of its evil Sheriff and his men. This is the only table where I discovered a hidden Skillshot and know exactly how to get it. I always go for the Wild Card Spinner, which awards some very nice things including an Extra Ball.

Wild West Rampage is a new property but not based on anything else, although I would love to see a VR light gun-esque shooter based on this table. Go on Zen Studios, you know it makes sense. I am still terrible at the Hurry Up modes and cannot win a Duel to save my Cindy’s Life. Regardless of that, this is still an enjoyable table with some cool ideas and modes that you’ll probably love.

… an excellent value for the money …
Visuals:
These tables have some great visuals and inventive surrounds that capture the essence of each theme perfectly. The best has to be Wild West Rampage with a train circling you and the table, Cindy leaning on the right side of the cabinet and shaking her head in disappointment when you fail. CastleStorm is a close second with a darkened room and dragons flying overhead and grabbing the silly sheep that loiter on the top of the cabinet.

I didn’t even mention the detailed innards of the pinball tables themselves with swinging saloon doors and a moving train, or the intricately designed castle and a working Ballista. You’ll see a shiny metal robot, cute and colorful creatures, the Jersey Devil, and more besides. Every table has such wonderful details that look fantastic in the headset.

Audio:
There’s loads of great speech and brilliant sound effects with every pinball table and just like the visual benefits of the PlayStation VR headset, this game sounds excellent when used with 3D audio.

Online/Multiplayer:
I think I will just copy and paste this paragraph for any future DLC for Pinball FX2 VR. This game is singleplayer only but features an extensive leaderboard system that tracks you and your friend’s scores.

Conclusion:
At a slightly higher price than the base game but with more content, Pinball FX2 VR: Season 1 Pack is still an excellent value for the money. Each table is fun to play and the new virtual reality environment adds a great layer of depth, clarity, and detail to the pinball tables and their surroundings.

A nice variety of themes means you will find it hard to get bored. Just remember to take a break between tables as you will be concentrating intensely to achieve those high scores. I cannot wait to see what DLC comes next for this insanely good PlayStation VR game.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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