Review: Pinball FX2’s “Bethesda Pinball” DLC
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Review: Pinball FX2’s “Bethesda Pinball” DLC


As good as their video game counterparts.

When it comes to video games, I have two loves: Pinball FX2 and Fallout. When I heard that Zen Studios, the creators behind Pinball FX2, were releasing the “Bethesda Pinball table” pack, it was a dream come true for me. This could only be described as the perfect marriage for me, though attaching the Doom, Skyrim, and Fallout franchises to pinball tables automatically sets up some big expectations.

Zen Studios has impressed me time and again, but I wasn’t sure if this was a rare occasion where they may have bit off a little more than they could chew.This time around, Zen needed to prove it could stay true to pinball, while also doing justice to the franchises it was tackling.

Doom

I know I will probably take some flak for this, but I am not a Doom fan. Sadly I can’t play it because I get motion sickness from it. In that sense it’s nice going into a table with zero expectations. It’s hard for me to really comment on the missions because of my lack of knowledge of the game. What I can say is this table is a blast to play. There is a very large, very angry demon in the upper right who does his best to kill you. This table reminds me of a couple of previous tables. Most notably “Thor” and “Ninja Gaiden”.

The “Doom” table harkens back to old-school tables, by leaving a lot of the low to middle playfield open. This allows for some really nice, fluid combos bouncing between ramps and outer lanes. It also makes for fairly easy shot selection, which will be nice for gamers who maybe aren’t as familiar with the physics/mechanics of virtual pinball. It’s a pretty forgiving tables, though there are a couple spots that can lead to some cheap drains. One being the spinning area underneath the lava area in the upper right. I had a couple instances where the ball came out of there only to go right between the flippers. The second one being the mouth of the skull in the middle left, having the same scenario.

Overall, I really enjoyed this table much more than I was expecting. I’m pretty confident that fans of the Doom games will get a lot more out of it with the nods to past games, and the lore behind it.

Skyrim

Ok, let me get this out of the way from the start. This may be a pinball table, but it’s also an RPG. Yes, you read that correctly. Before I even begin to talk about the table, you get to pick your race, your class and dive in. While you play you can loot gear, equip different armor, weapons, or spells and tackle missions just like you would in the normal game. The amount of detail in this table is crazy.

Zen Studio had a previous run at an RPG-like table several years ago, and it’s apparent that they learned quite a bit from it. “Epic Quest” was a quirky, whimsical, chasing the princess type story with a lot of humor. You could upgrade gear and level up which was a great feature. The “Skyrim” table takes all that and multiplies it tenfold. Alduin makes an appearance much like the dragon does in the “Castlestorm” table. I haven’t completed all the missions on this table yet, but that’s par for the course with an Elder Scrolls game right? There’s literally a ton of stuff to do from fighting a dragon, attacking a group of bandits, to tracking down Dragon Shouts. The attention to detail is crazy.

Layout wise, it feels a lot like the “Excalibur” table but more refined and precise. The ramps and lanes are sneakily placed, in that it looks like a fairly standard layout with run of the mill shots, but they are all offset by just a hair making you be more precise with your shots. For those who flail blindly with the flippers be prepared for some crazy bounces. Much like the “Star Wars Pinball: The Empire Strikes Back” table actually. There is room here for some nice combos and good solid runs, but there’s a little bit of a learning curve that will go along with achieving those high scores.

The attention to detail and the RPG elements will have me coming back to this table time and time again. I fully expect to keep discovering things the more I play it. That’s exactly how I was with “Skyrim”, so that’s no surprise either.

Fallout

This was the table I was most looking forward to playing, and it did not disappoint. Carrying on the theme from the other tables, the attention to detail here is simply astounding. Everything from noises to voice acting ripped from Fallout 4, to collecting Bobbleheads, to the Pipboy 3000 allowing you to customize your stats is in this table.  I don’t think Zen Studios could have got the feel of a Fallout game any more perfect.

Like the “Skyrim” table there are missions galore here as well. From exploring Vaults, fighting Mirelurks and Super Mutants, tracking down supplies, to trying to avoid a radiation storm it’s all in this table. Seriously, I was amazed when the radiation storm rolled in, the screen tinted that dull green color and the ball gradually accumulated more and more radiation. There’s no shortage of things to do, and I know I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. I would assume there is power armor in the game, and I really hope there is a secret Deathclaw as well, if they are there I will discover them eventually.

In terms of layout, it’s another tricky one. It reminds me a lot, and I mean a lot, of the “X-Men” table from several years ago. The ramps are grouped to the left or right side, with two additional flippers on the top half making for some extremely precise shots when called on. One main ramp on each side lends itself to easy combos, but that will only get you so far. This table requires you to learn all the shots and be able to pull them off in a fairly quick succession in order to get the most out of it. The short loop on the lower right side creates some wicked fast returns, so be ready for that.

I do have one small complaint about this table. With as big of an RPG as Fallout is, you can create a character on this table and customize the stats – but once the play-through is over that character is gone. It’s not like the Skyrim” table where you can continue to level up your character. It’s a one and done here and that led to some disappointment. I love the table aside from that.

There’s a quote by Aristotle that says, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” I can’t think of a better description for this Bethesda table pack. Individually, these are three fantastic franchises, taken as a whole this is a fantastic pack of tables that should appeal to both pinball players as well as gamers who have never picked up a virtual pinball game. There is a good mix of difficulty, but at the end of the day a good measure of a pinball table is if it’s fun just to hit the ball around with no particular mission in mind, and all three of these tables check that box off. I have played a lot of pinball in my time, both real and virtual, while I’m not ready to say that any of these tables will crack my Top 10 list, I can confidently say that I will be playing a lot of all three of these. I will revisit them often as the each offer something different than the other. This is an excellent addition to the Zen Studios pinball portfolio.

 

The good

  • Great attention to detail.
  • Iconic franchises in play.
  • Lots to do on every table.

The bad

  • No character carry-over in Fallout.

Pinball FX2‘s “Bethesda Pinball” tables were reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

Andy Gray

Andy Gray

From the frozen land of Minnesota, I was the weird kid that begged my parents for an Intellivision instead of an Atari. My love for gaming has only grown since. When I’m not gaming I enjoy ice hockey and training dogs. I’m still trying to get my Elkhound to add to my Gamerscore though, one day this will happen.