August 31 2010 (Revised)
Released in 2007 at the price of $10, Pinball FX brought us some silverball goodness with 3 tables, and a number of tables released through the next few years. That left us with a total of 9 tables. The initial tables are Speed Machine, XTreme, and Agents. The subsequent releases are: Buccaneer, Nightmare Mansion, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Street Fighter 2, Earth Defense, and Excalibur, each running a cost of 240 pts each. I believe one of the titles was offered for free for a limited time, but right now I can't remember which one it was! Of the bunch, Rocky and Bullwinkle comes across as the only dud, but it is playable and you may just try it out just for the novelty of it. Ironically, it's one of the two tables that's a licensed property, the other being Street Fighter 2.
XTreme Table (above), Agents (below)
The graphics on all of them are pretty good, the table sounds are authentic, the physics are pinball, and the sound effects.. Well, let's just say you look at the total package of the game, not just focusing on one part of it! The bleeps and bloops are, in places, ok, and in other places, awful. Example: there's a hand-buzzer sound on the Speed Machine, and the XTreme table has some weird rap lines by a sick-sounding pale rapper. I play on an SDtv, so some details are lost when I play and I can't read a lot of the text, but I've played Pinball FX on HDtv as well, and it jumps off the screen. It looks that damned good.
Each table is also pretty busy, with lots of targets and points to rack up, and a couple of them (Excalibur, XTreme, and Haunted Mansion) have extra playfields somewhere above or below the main field of play. Multiball is a game of chance like you'd expect, amd it can quickly get out of control. One good thing about the in-game physics, you get that "Aw shit!" feeling that you would while playing an actual pinball machine. Sure you can nudge the table and risk a tilt and lose your bonuses, but that can backfire as you fling your ball out of one drain, it bangs into a target or a wall, and it quickly ricochets into the drain while you sit there worrying about nudging the ball one more time.
Some of the tables will remind you of other licensed tables. XTreme feels like Black Knight, Agents has some elements of Terminator pinball, and Speed Machine has elements of a couple of the car-racing themed tables you might be able to find in a dark, dusty corner of a pizza shop or an arcade somewhere.
Speed Machine, Multiplayer (above)
There is a Single Player mode, and a Multiplayer with up to 4 players available. The multiplayer works with one table, doing a score attack simultaneously. Kind of lame, but it does get boring playing real arcade pinball when it's not your turn, and the other guy keeps looping and getting extra balls and tons of bonuses. Of course, what good pinball game would be without Leaderboards, and these are online boards so you can compare yourself with other players- the real fun of pinball high scores!
Above: In XTreme, the top playfield is a reverse-version of the Black Knight top playfield. Awesome.
The guys at The World of Einstein & Pencil Shavings endorses Pinball FX to anybody with a 360 and the need to play with their balls, and gives it a rating of 4 Golden Balls out of 5.
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