Thursday, February 26, 2015

Zen Pinball 2 - Iron & Steel Pack (PS4)

Appropriately titled, this new set of Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX2 tables takes the gamer on a fun loving journey involving two of Zen Studio's own unique creations. Within the set you'll find a wild west themed table starring a blonde haired female gunslinger named Cindy who has arrived in a town wrought by mischief, and mayhem. You'll also find Sir Gareth of the "Castlestorm" games doing his usual heroic duties amidst an army of vikings. Each table is decorated accordingly with the "Wild West Rampage" table looking as if it were inspired by the movie "The Quick & the Dead", and "Castlestorm" looking as if it were inspired by a knightly fairytale akin to the game of the same name. Both tables have an overabundance of scoring options including multiple back ramps, and lanes as well as themed pits for capturing the ball, and triggering various missions. You'll even be pleasantly surprised to know that these two new tables include a unique multiple skillshot setup that has never been seen on a Zen Studios pinball table before. If you like the Zen Studios brand of gaming, and you love their pinball gaming experiences I have no doubt that you'll enjoy this new set!

Wild West Rampage

In Wild West Rampage you will be playing as the lone pistol toting gunwoman (see what I did there?) Cindy. It just so happens that Cindy has arrived at a town run by the corrupt sheriff Evan, and his henchmen. Being the no BS kind of gal that she is Cindy takes it upon herself to clean up the town, and bring justice through her pistols' iron bullets, and gunsmoke. You'll find that the town includes a fully operational steam locomotive, a saloon with revolving doors, and a sheriff's station where the sheriff stands amongst the virtual desert terrain. The land itself is littered with event triggered bandit targets, explosives, and a stage coach that doubles as the table's bumpers. There's even a sheriff's badge turntable, which if entered with a pinball will toss said pinball out of a second story window onto the right side of the playing field. The ramps on the table, which are placed at the back of the playing field are modeled after saloon entry ramps, and are joined with walled alleyways that each have specific words to be spelled out with multiple passes of the pinball. In order to land the ball in all of these points of interest you will be using the provided four flippers (two at the bottom, and one on each side) to send the pinball speeding about. Scoring high will depend greatly on how quick your reflexes are.

The events tied to the "Wild West Rampage" include, but are not limited to the following. You'll find that Cindy of the "Wild West Rampage" seeks out criminals via the wanted ramp event which shows their respective wanted posters when the event is triggered. By passing the pinball up the "Wanted" ramp enough times to spell the word "Wanted" the table will cut to a scene showing off the wanted poster of the criminal you are to pursue. Aside from that there are two explosives events including one which the sheriff will toss dynamite sticks across the playing area, and another in which you must blow up explosive barrels before the stage coach arrives. After entering a trap at the middle top section of the playing field that is decorated with an explosive barrel image this will act as a trigger for the explosive barrel event. After it is triggered through multiple ball passes into the trap glowing gunpowder kegs will appear in front of different ramps. As you can probably guess you must explode these gunpowder kegs with the pinball in the designated amount of time. The sheriff dynamite event on the other hand comes from passing the pinball up the "Kaboom" ramp, and following up with a pinball strike to said dynamite.

Other events of interest include the double themed saloon event in which spelling one of two words (Saloon / Rampage) will trigger a certain event. By spelling out "Saloon" with enough pinball passes Cindy's 3d model will bolt across the table over to the sheriff in a fighting stance. By hitting the bandit targets that pop-up in front of the ramps Cindy will deal a punch to the sheriff until the required amount of punches are landed, or until you lose the ball. The other possible outcome of the saloon area ramp deals with the word "Rampage". By spelling out "Rampage with the right number of pinball passes a six shooter bullet chamber will arise in front of the ramp, and capture any pinballs you hit it with. This will then setup a multi-ball event after the mock pistol fires each pinball into the saloon's swinging doors. As far as the multi-option skill shot goes on this table you'll find that it mostly depends on the pressure you apply to the pinball at launch, and the follow up of passing the pinball to an upper right ramp. The normal skillshot can be achieved by barely pressing launch, and causing the pinball to hit the target in front of the lower left hand side ramp. This is worth an immediate one million points. Next up you have the "Hidden Skillshot" which will require you to actually send the ball halfway up the same ramp so that it doubles back, and enters a hidden trap at the lower right hand side of the playing area. Doing so will earn you a quick 1.5 million points. Supposing you opt to launch the pinball to the top area, and around to the left you can strike the pinball with the upper left flipper, and send it sailing across the ways to an upper right hand side ramp. This will land you a "Super Skillshot" worth two million points. Scoring in the wild wild west definitely comes in a wide variety.

Castlestorm

When it comes to the Castlestorm table offerings you'll find that the table is quite the luminescent experience. Covered in a shadowy darkness the table itself shines through with illuminated Castlestorm artwork. Characters including Sir Gareth are shown in all of their disproportionate wackiness amidst the table's various structures. To the right side of the table you will find a donkey launcher, and the signature sheep that is synonymous with the "Castlestorm" game/s. You'll even find a 3d animated model of Sir Gareth himself adorned with his usual knightly blue armor. As with the previous table of the set this table's action bits are scattered about with the ramps mostly at the back. There's even a roosting dragon at the center of it all sitting atop a trap door mechanism that is adjacent to the somewhat hidden table bumpers. Scoring high on the "Castlestorm" table depends greatly on the spelling of the words that line the multiple overlapping, and joining ramps. By passing the pinball through each ramp enough times to spell out the assigned word you will trigger an event. Events range from multi-ball missions to missions that require the passing of the pinball into the appropriate targets, and ramps. There's also an upper right mini-area in which you must knock down rows of viking targets in order to reach a designated score. This particular event is called the , "Castle Seige" as it is basically meant to represent the attack on Cheif Ramhorn's castle. In this mini-area there's also two flippers with which to flip the pinball about.

Other events on the table include a spirit event in which apparitions stand before each ramp entry, and must be snuffed out with a strike from the pinball. There's also an event similar to that of the "Plants vs Zombies" table in which you will strike down approaching vikings with the pinball. When it comes to the animated dragon model you'll find that it also plays a role event-wise, and will set the table on fire as it flies around. As far as the stacked skill shot goes you will need to first launch the pinball all the way around the back of the table, and hit it with the left bottom flipper so that it goes up the right side ramp. This must be done in a certain amount of time, and without missing. After the pinball enters the right ramp it will loop back around to the right flipper at which time you must flip the ball to the main left side ramp. After the second entry your 'skillshot' will progress to a 'super skillshot', and will loop back around to the left bottom flipper which must be used to once again flip it up into the right side ramp. This will score you a "Storm Skillshot", and will electrify the pinball in the process. The first skillshot is worth one million points while the second, and third are worth five hundred thousand points extra respectively. This is an easy way to score some high points before sending the ball out on to the field to engage in the table's many events.

The Verdict ...

While this set of tables isn't the easiest to rack up a high score on you will find that they are brilliantly designed in their own unique ways. In my opinion they are some of the best tables Zen Studios has put out in accordance to their own development studio label. The themes are the developer's own unique brand, and that in itself makes them much more attractive to me. You'll also find as I did that the music, and voice-overs of each are brilliantly done as well. Sir Gareth, and the creatures/persons of the "Castlestorm" table come to life like they do in their own game. Even Cindy, and the sheriff of the "Wild West Rampage" table bring their own unique personalities to the forefront through southern accents, and tough guy banter. In the end I loved the overall design of each table, and the fact that they were mostly functional. I say "Mostly Functional", simply because the "Wild West Rampage" upper flippers weren't exactly viable due to the speeds at which the pinball would pass them. At certain views the table would also present a visual disadvantage for said flippers. Other than that I thought both tables were Awesome! Definitely do not miss out on this highly affordable DLC pack as it will make a nice addition to your growing Zen Pinball 2, or Pinball FX2 collection!

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