What is Zen Pinball 2 and should you buy it? Read our Zen Pinball 2 and Plant vs Zombies Table Review
Zen Pinball 2 is not a game, it is a game platform on a game platform. But what do I mean by saying that? Well most of you might have heard about a "game platform" or emulator called Mame32 which could emulate all the arcade games and you were able to play them in your computer. Zen Pinball 2 is kinda the same thing, it is a free emulator for pinball tables from Zen Studios. By downloading it on your PS3 or Vita, for free, you can import all the tables from Zen Studios past like those of Zen Pinball and Marvel Pinball.
It is an awesome idea from the guys over at Zen Studios and the execution is done perfectly. You download Zen Pinball 2, install and start it, import past tables or download trial tables or buy new ones and you choose which table to play. There are currently 30 tables to choose from. I was fortunate enough to get a review copy for 24 of the tables.
Now I have most of the tables and I don't know where and how to begin reviewing them. I grew up playing video games and unfortunately in the arcades in my country we didn't have pinball machines. The only pinball game I have played in years is the Space Cadet 3D Pinball game on Windows XP till I got my hands on the Avengers Chronicles, which I enjoyed very much.
So maybe I am not the guy to properly review all the pinball tables. But what I can tell you is that each one of them is unique and I had a blast playing them. Zen Studios is the best at creating awesome pinball table experiences. They are able to do things that in real life pinball machines you couldn't even imagine. They have managed to put a story in each table. In some tables the story is brought to you by voice and most of the time you can see it happening as you play. 3D characters populate the tables. For example in the Iron Man table, you see Tony without the suit, Whiplash and The Mandarin. If you hit a specific point in the table or if you enter a specific lane different times, you trigger different events in the table. So Tony gets in the Iron Man suit and start fighting of the bad guys. This happens in most of the tables. In the Ghost Rider one you see the Rider fight off the Devil, in the Blade one, Blade fight with Dracula, in the Captain America one you see Cap fend of Red Skull and Baron Zemo while trying to save the Howling Commandos.
As I said each table has its own unique story and also its unique layout and unique objectives. These objectives range from hitting specific targets, ramps, or dropping the ball into a hole. Doing these things will increase bonus multipliers, earn extra balls, and sometimes unlock new objectives. The execution in some of the tables is perfect and in some is OK, but this is my opinion. You have to try the tables yourself and then you can agree or disagree with me.
The newest table to release, apart from those in the Avengers Chronicles, is the Plant vs. Zombies table. Zen Studios worked closely with PopCap and the result is amazing. I really like this table. The same experience from PvZ is delivered in this table. You fend off zombies, collect suns and play some cool mini-games. Also all the assets from PvZ are present here, 3D models, sound effects and the vibrant color palette. The second time I played this table, I managed to get a score of 35 million and I started grinning. But when I saw that the top score was like 1.5 billion, I went to the corner and started crying... :D. Well, I didn't really cried, but hey 1.5 billion, that's insane! For 3$ this table is totally worth it. Don't think twice, download it!
The only problem I have with this and all the tables is that the information that is given to the player is very hard to see. The objectives and part of the story appear on the small box in the top left of the screen in pixel format. I know that this is used to resemble the display of the pinball machines, but for me it doesn't properly work. Everything moves too fast and it's very difficult to see.
Now back at Zen Pinball 2 as a whole package. The idea behind it is awesome and so it's the execution. The physics of the ball and flippers feel like how they should. A big selling point is also the PS3 and Vita cross-buy/play. If you buy something on PSN, you can use it on both your PS3 and PS Vita. Unfortunately I couldn't try the game on the Vita since I don't own one, but from what I've heard it plays amazingly. Visually each table is fantastic and the sound design is great. I am not a fan of pinball games, but Zen Pinball 2 have turned me into one. Give this platform and all the tables a try, you will not be disappointed. 9.5/10-Editor Choice