Pinball FX 2: Star Wars Pinball – Xbox 360
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Release Date: Feb 27, 2013
Genre: Arcade
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 4.5 of 5

The Star Wars franchise isn’t going away anytime soon thanks to the recent purchase by Disney to carry on the movie license and now with Zen Studios’ Star Wars Pinball; a total of ten new Star Wars themed tables with each table featuring a different iconic moment from the Star Wars universe, complete with interactive 3D characters, and unique gameplay. The first pack of tables has just released and includes Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett and The Clone Wars, all playable on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, iOS and other supported systems.

As with any collection of items, favorites rise to the top and others sink to the bottom. In the case of these first three tables I found two of them to be highly entertaining and extremely addicting while one proved to defy the laws of probability, geometry, and perhaps even physics, to become one of the few pinball tables in my collection I’ll probably never play again. I’ll let you see if you can figure out which one I’m talking about.

Up first is Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and includes scenes from the film which are played in the dot matrix display at the start of each of the five missions. The table theme is set on the Executors Star Destroyer main deck, and the center platform hosts the majority of the action. Main characters include Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper, all represented as 3D characters. The table also features a number of fully functional 3D objects including an AT-AT walker (with circling Snow Speeder!), Tie Fighter, Ion Cannon and Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader’s lightsaber.

Easily one of my favorite tables, not just in this collection but perhaps my entire table library (and I have them all), the graphics, the table layout, and the overall gameplay and scene-specific missions are expertly designed and a blast to play. I was impressed with the large number of sound samples, even if they did start to repeat a bit often – or perhaps I was just playing this table too much for too long in a single sitting – entirely possibly.

Up next is the baddest bounty hunter in the galaxy, Boba Fett. This table captures all the iconic moments including the Sarlacc pit and even a spinner of Han Solo frozen in Carbonite. You pick missions for either the HUTTS or the EMPIRE by aiming for ramps to spell out the words, and then watch as 3D models of Boba Fett, Darth Vader, a Stormtrooper guard, Jabba the Hutt, Fett’s Slave I ship, and a TIE Fighter appear and interact with the table. Whether you are a fan of the Fett or not, this is one bad-ass table loaded with classic sound clips and musical cues.

The third table in this debut pack is The Clone Wars and while this may be the most colorful and perhaps visually striking of the first three tables, it is also, in my opinion, the least enjoyable. Out of the dozens of pinball tables currently available for Pinball FX 2 this is the second one where the geometric design of the table makes it nearly unplayable. The ball seems to have a will of its own and repeatedly drains down the side gates or streaks right down the middle between the flippers at light-speed. There were times where I would launch the ball and it would drain, only to have the initial Ball Save return the ball to the table where it would drain again without ever coming in contact with a flipper.

It’s a shame really, because I love the design of this table that captures events that take place between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith using the iconic CG art style from the series. Main characters include Anakin Skywalker and his new apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, both represented as 3D characters, as well as Asajj Ventress, Savage Opress and Battle Droids who will interact with the table as you play out missions by lighting up the CLONE WARS lamps by shooting the left and right ramps, provided you can do so before all three balls drain. With some small tweaks to the “angle/slope”, this could be a great table.

As with previous DLC tables, each comes with its own set of objectives and achievements and your scores will factor in to your leaderboards and Wizard Score. You’ll also get real-time, in-game feedback as you near your own best records or those of your friends.

Overall, this is a great first installment and hopefully a small taste of what Zen Studios has in store for us with the rest of the Star Wars Pinball series. I for one, can’t wait to get my flippers on the next seven tables and complete the series. Until then…May the Force be with you…especially on The Clone Wars table.