Sunday, June 22, 2014

Zen Pinball 2: Deadpool (PS3, PS4, PS VITA)

Since February of 1991, in the pages of "New Mutants #98" Deadpool (aka, Wade Winston Wilson) has been making guest appearances, and solo debuts within the Marvel Comics universe, video games, and even movies. This fan favorite anti-hero which has made himself known through his many superhero, and super villain encounters carries with him a signature brand of slapstick humor, killer martial arts skills, and some complimentary super powers. His gained powers, or abilities which were gifted unto him during the Weapon-X program include, but are not limited to regeneration, resistance to telepathic powers, immunity to toxins, and extremely slow aging. His scarred appearance which was revealed through the comic books, and X-Men movies came about as a result of the adverse effects that the Weapon-X regeneration capabilities brought along with it. Before undergoing a surgery slightly similar to that of Wolverine's, Deadpool's cancer overtook his body, and scarred it in the process severely disfiguring him. That is why he is always shown wearing his signature mask, and full body costume.

As far as battles go Deadpool has seen his fair share of fights both onscreen, and offscreen. The Hulk, Daredevil, Cable, and Wolverine are amongst the unlucky ones to have encountered this lunatic assassin, and lived to have told their tale. At one point in his timeline Deadpool had his head bashed in by the Hulk, and was even decapitated by Wolverine. Even with these mortal wounds though he was able to regenerate, and continue doing what he does best. In the early years of Deadpool's comic book history you'll find that he was more of a serious character with a bit of psychosis, and didn't develop his unique brand of humor until later on. It is this latter iteration of the anti-hero known as Deadpool that you'll find in Zen Studio's kid friendly 'Deadpool' Pinball table. Even with the "E" rating though you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that Deadpool works his way around the rating system quite nicely, and that in doing so his sarcastic charm never fades as the pinball bings around the table hitting the intended targets triggering his wacky actions, and reactions as it does so.

The 'Deadpool' Zen Pinball 2 table, which is the main topic of this review carries with it an appearance, and structure that is about as insane as the masked anti-hero himself. On the playing field you'll find a larger-than-life comic book representation of Deadpool, and a select cast of other Marvel acquaintances gathered closely around him in a similar comic book art style. A 3D representation of Deadpool, which is the table's main focal point also wanders about the table rambling on about, anything, and everything under the sun while trying to interrupt your gameplay with his shenanigans. He'll fall from the sky, make your balls explode, and even play a pinball table modeled after the pinball table you are playing. The launcher, which is basically a TNT detonator will send the pinball blasting onto the playing field after Deadpool jams down the trigger.

Other table features include a mechanized soldier that plays a huge role in one of the Deadpool issue events, and a wooden shack with the word "Hellhouse (Think 'Beetlejuice')" made up of red neon lights hanging up on the front of it. At the very back of the table is an artistic representation of three, or four female characters who will each laugh as the pinball passes near to them after the initial pinball launch. One of the ramps, which is basically a ramp that quickly returns the pinball to the main flippers once it's entered will only do it's job if the associated Deadpool events are triggered through other ramp entries, and target hits. The center ramp has three profile images of Deadpool, and will allow you to select which event you wish to take on once the ramp is lit up, and activated through required means. It should also be noted that there is a grouping of Deadpool bumpers at the top left-hand side of the playing field, hidden just underneath the ramp which is a combination of metal, and wood. For those of you wondering about the ball save this time around you'll find it is a large grenade that sits just below the main two flippers, and explodes once hit. Flippers themselves come in the usual main pair, and includes two more which are placed midways on either side of the playing field.

In the way of events you'll find that Zen Studios has put into place a virtual cornucopia of things to aim for. Each of the events, which are triggered by the passing through of multiple ramps, pit targets, bumpers, and furniture themed targets will afford you the opportunities that are needed to gain that top score you are hoping to earn. By continuously passing the ball through the designated ramps, which are located at the top of the playing field, and constructed in a roundabout way you will be able to earn combo scores, and trigger their respective events. Once the ramp/target requirements are met, and and the center ramp is illuminated you simply have to pass the ball up the center ramp, and select the mission/event you wish to take on using the "R1/L1" shoulder buttons. The events are each numbered, and titled accordingly, in a manner that is a lot like that of a comic book. Each of the events have the signature Deadpool style about it, and offer that slapstick humor that he is all about.

In total there are around five events. Among those events are ones that include the battle with a miniature version of Deadpool, the angry fans that are trying to attack Deadpool, the previously mentioned mech, and a "Blind Al" mode in which only the flippers, ramps, and targets are visible. Each event, if fully completed will reward the player handsomely with millions of points each. For those of you looking for multi-ball events, and combo multipliers those scoring options are also included this time around. One feature which is entirely unique amongst the Marvel Pinball tables is the changeable difficulty that comes with the Deadpool experience. If you feel it's too hard for you you can opt to go the 'Easy' route. If you feel 'Easy', and 'Normal' aren't challenging enough you can opt to go along with the toughest difficulty setting. This in itself makes the Deadpool table experience on that will cater to all types of Zen Pinball 2 players.

About the Graphics & Sound ...

Everything about 'Deadpool' is exceptionally well done. The 3D model of Deadpool which graces the player with it's presence moves about, and interacts with the table more than any Zen Pinball character ever has. Deadpool is constantly on the move talking his nonsense, and sometimes even cussing in a censored fashion. His movements which mock his teleport abilities in the comic books has him falling from the sky, landing in a chair, and moving towards the TNT detonator in a rapidly spastic way. One of the key features when it comes to the sound is Deadpools voice-over actor which not only suits him, but has him speaking as he would in his more recent comic book appearances. Deadpool takes jabs at Zen Studios, and 'Kick Beat', and even jokes about the rating of the game with bleeped out swearing. Even in the game over screen you will find Deadpool throwing out insults, and puns to those who would stop to listen. Nothing is dull as you play, and attempt to reach your current high score goal. Btw, the Samuel L. Jackson inspired sound byte that occurs when you tilt the table is hilarious!

The PS3, PS4 & PS Vita Comparison ...

By now you should know I love to give pointers on which platform the tables, and table sets perform their best. I take in account which platform handles the best flipper-wise, how the ramp access handles, and which one is the easiest to score on. When it comes to the 'Deadpool' table one Playstation platform does rule the roost. That perfect platform this time around is the "PS3". The controls, and applied control functions on the PS3 seem to react as they are intended to, and allow the player to feel like they are in total control of what is going on. Ramp access is still at a medium challenge level no matter what platform you choose to play on due to the ramp's arrangement, but I felt as if they were easier to hit on the PS3. The 'PS Vita' version, which comes in at a close second place only does so, because of the responsiveness of the shoulder buttons that act as the trigger for the left, and right flippers. If you hit the ball using the shoulder buttons on the Vita the ball responds in sync with the button presses, and the pinball moves about accordingly. As far as the 'PS4' version goes it comes in last due to the controller which doesn't seem as in sync with gameplay as it does in the other Playstation versions of the table. I don't know why it is, but in general the PS4 dualshock controller just does not go well with the Zen Pinball 2 experience. Mostly do to the loose shoulder button controls. Keep in mind that if you purchase the table on the PS3, or PS Vita you can import them for free to the other Playstation consoles assuming you have them.

Conclusion ...

I cannot stress enough how Awesome this latest Zen Pinball 2 table is. It not only captures the character that is Deadpool perfectly, but does so in a grand fashion that is unlike any Marvel Pinball, or Zen Pinball 2 experience before it. I can definitely see why Zen Studios chose to go the solo route with this table, and didn't opt to dumb it down with the inclusion of multiple tables. If you are a fan of comic books, Marvel, or Deadpool you will not want to miss out on this table. It is DLC that is actually worth having. I know I say that about every Zen Pinball 2 table, but this time Zen Studios has really outdone themselves, and have made the perfect comic book to table translation. It is not to be missed, trust me!

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