Taking inspiration from one of Midway's all time greatest pinball tables (World Cup Soccer - Midway1994) Zen Studios has incorporated their knowledge of pinball history as well as soccer, and has brought to us a noteworthy addition to their own pinball timeline. Through a collection of 9 currently available individually designed tables with a common setup this development team has done good to offer fans of the sponsored soccer clubs a chance to show their support through purchases, and applied game time. Clubs such as Arsenal, Liverpool FC, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid C.F., A.C. Milan, Juventus Football Club, A.S. Roma, and Zen Studios FC come to life for these dedicated fans on the screen of multiple console platforms. Mascots, well known team players, virtual crowds, banners, and anthems are also a huge a part of the gaming experience at hand. By buying a table based on the team that you like you will in turn be telling that team through sales stats provided by Zen Studios how much you care about them as well as how much you care about the developers' who have poured their hearts into the project. At $2.99 a table it's a heck of a deal, and knowing that each table plays basically the same will ease your mind about having to buy additional tables. If you like what Zen Studios offers in general though then supporting all the teams, and the developer is definitely an acceptable option.
Setup like a proper soccer field Super League Football's playing field contains multiple ramps, and other score based features assigned to such things as dribbling, trick shots, cross ups, longshots, field goals, one twos, and even a pinball that looks like a soccer ball. Unlike previous Zen Pinball 2 tables though this soccer oriented table sticks to the season by season orientation, and takes in account all aspects of a soccer game including goal scoring, the home & away teams, the innings, half time, and even the actual players who are the stars of each team. Aside from the season-by-season, and game-by-game play (Weekly Fixtures) you will also find that there's plenty of multi-ball events, chances for an extra ball (5 to be exact), chances for free kicks (aka, ball saves), a bumper based vari-target that will reward you in different ways (score multiplier, target takedown, concessions points, player payouts ...), and a jackpot/super jackpot that will reward you with millions of points at a time should you take advantage of it properly. Setting yourself up for these scoring opportunities though will require quick reflexes that are not unlike that of the skills soccer players use themselves.
As you continue to play on your favorite "Super League Football" table you will find that possession of the ball switches from time to time, and that teams will take turns about scoring goals depending on your successfully/unsuccessfully applied actions. Regardless of this fact actual pinball based point scoring will always remain in your favor, and will afford you different types of scoring opportunities in the process. One thing the table takes in account is the players on the field. On the middle of the playing field you'll notice profile photos of each of your team's players. There are 10 in total. As you play the opposing team will take down some of your players which in turn will cause their profile to be highlighted. The more players that are taken down/highlighted the easier it will be for the opposing team to score a goal. The same thing goes for your teams goal scoring opportunities. While the offensive team can score in an indirect sort of way you will find that in order for your team to score you'll need to hit the mini-playing field at the back of the table, and flip the ball into the make-believe goal in order to score.
Of course you will find that there are up to 10 players in your way in the form of sliding jerzees, and a sliding goalie who aims to keep the soccer ball at bay. Your best chance at breaking the opposing team's defense is to shoot the ball up the table's ramps multiple times, and fill up a combo meter at the lower right hand portion of the table which acts just like the opposing team's middle table take down area. By scoring enough ramp combos, and filling up the meter you will take down the moving jerzees one by one at the top mini-playing field, and will in turn make scoring a goal easier. With that being said the goalie will always be there trying to block your goal attempts, and should the soccer ball slip back onto the main playing field your own take down combo meter will be reset.
About the graphics & sound ...
On the PS4 "Super League Football" is a thoroughly impressive set of tables. Each table while basically the same in construction carries with it signature team colors, complimentary team banners, team specific anthems, and an official team mascot. Even the team player who acts as the launcher (An actual soccer player who kicks the pinball/soccer ball onto the playing field) wears the team's outfit/colors. By keeping things similar in appearance yet different Zen Studios has offered a way for soccer/football fans to show their support for their favorite team/s without overspending on multiple tables. The added fact that your highest score from all tables (should you buy them all) is tallied up as one high score regardless of which table you earned that highest score on makes multiple purchases unnecessary.
Artistic, and audio details definitely work together to compliment the action at hand, and add hype to the sports related experience taking place on your TV screen. As I mentioned earlier the playing field is kept as close to an actual soccer/football experience as possible while incorporating all the elements of a pinball table. Fans of soccer in general will be able to fully realize what is going on in relation to team scoring, and through the announcers audio contributions will be able to understand what's going on in the field as if it were an actual televised sports event. While announcer audio does get repetitive at times it still reflects the onscreen action that is taking place. If you are having trouble shooting goals, or kicking the ball up ramps the game will let you know so through announcer audio cues. The same goes for successful ramp combos, multi-ball events, and trick shots amongst other things. Zen Studios definitely did good to mix sports with pinball in that sense.
Now onto the verdict ...
I'll be honest. I'm not what you'd call a sports fan. I don't like American football, and while I did play soccer in high school I never really grew fond of it. The whole concept of sitting/playing through a lengthy game as people watched/participated never really appealed to me. With that being said though I think Zen Studios did an amazing job with their soccer/football tribute. The tables look, and feel like the sports inspired events that they are supposed to reflect. I liked the fact that the construction of the tables were kept uniform, and that only the team specific elements differed. There's no doubt in my mind after seeing, and playing through each table that Zen Studios definitely had the soccer/football fans in mind when creating the table add-ons.
As far as a recommendation goes I can easily praise the new tables all day for their design, and features, but what it's going to all boil down to is whether, or not you as a gamer love the sport that is being shared. If you are a fan of soccer you'll find plenty of fun times as you play along with your favorite teams. If you are a gamer who doesn't care for the sport though you might not find it as appealing as soccer enthusiasts would. In my personal opinion though the tables are still all good. They offer the same competitive pinball scoring opportunities as past Zen Pinball 2 tables did, and can be used to compete against other Zen Pinball 2 players who are on your friends list.
When it comes to version quality the PS4 tables, and the PS Vita tables definitely outrank the PS3 offerings. While there is a noticeable difference in audio, and graphical presentation each version only varies to a slight degree. What really differs is the ball, and flipper speed on each console. On the PS3 you'll find a slightly more slow paced experience while on the PS4, and PS Vita the ball, and flipper speed have been ramped up significantly. All of the PSN sets can be imported though, so basing your purchase on such standards is not necessary. Be sure to keep that in mind when considering a purchase. Whatever your choice may be though at least give the demos a shot before turning the tables down.