Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Zen Pinball 2 ~ Star Wars Pinball: Rogue One (PS4)

Going into this review I was blind plot-wise. I have yet to see 'Star Wars: Rogue One', and only know the basics of the story being told. I know this latest tale follows a ragtag group of shipmates who are trying to infiltrate the Death Star to steal the battle plans so that it can be destroyed. My guess is that it takes place somewhere in the middle of the original trilogy before the Death Star is actually blown up. A sort of side story that builds upon what fans already know. As far as the tribute table goes there's no in-your-face spoilers, but it does obviously feature design elements that will be recognizable to those who have already seen the movie. I will say that out of all the available Star Wars Pinball tables this table, by far, is the most grand in design. It features a rich array of 3D models, and accompanying story missions that number 10 in total. It even has table art that is a realistic representation of the contributing actors, and actresses done up in a way that is almost photo-realistic. The table features, such as the wired half-pipes, and ramps are also added in a way that is vastly different from any Zen Pinball table before it. It's definitely more user friendly, and has more scoring opportunities than usual. There's even some new additions to the Zen Pinball 2 mechanics that haven't been seen before.

When the table opens up into view the focus is on a rail cart sliding on a track through a jungle-like area. This cart on rails doubles as the launcher, and no doubt holds some significance within the film. The table itself has a mostly open center where the character portrait art lies in full view. You'll see Jyn, and her crew front and center in that photo-realistic art style I mentioned earlier. To either side of the art floats wired half-pipe tunnel systems that go upward, loop around their own separate side structures, and meet up with the top ramps and lanes. Access to these ramps, lanes, and half-pipes is done through the top ramps. As the pinball passes through them at an appropriate speed it loops around, and goes back towards the alleys beside the main flippers.

At the top center is a group of 7 bumpers decorated with X-Wing images. These are covered in a thin clear glass pane, and are directly accessible through a top-center shot. This X-Wing platform serves as a trigger for the 10 main story events, and opens up to reveal various other 3D models including the AT-AT, a stormtrooper, a pit inside the Death Star, the Death Star itself, and a stationary guard target that can be hit for millions of points at a time. At the top left corner of the playing field the main villain resides in all his glory while Jyn in her 3D model form lies in wait to meet him in battle at the lower right hand corner of the table adjacent to the main flippers. Speaking of flippers the table has four flippers in total. There's the main two flippers at the bottom center as usual, and two just above each of these on either side. The upper flippers give easier access to the upper ramps, targets, and lanes.

The targets on the table mostly include the usual bullseye and panel variation along with some new ground buttons that press in when the ball passes over them. These light up targets are stationed along the alleys leading to the 'ball out' area. While most of the events are triggered through the top-center bumper area you will find that the lesser targets do activate things like an interactive 'X-Wing' video mode, and a stormtrooper multi-ball. The 'X-Wing' video mode, which takes place in the dot matrix display, will have you chasing the digital target left and right with the L2 & R2 shoulder buttons while firing at it with the launch button. While holding down launch to fire in this mode is possible it is best to tap the launch button to fire faster. Another thing that should be mentioned is the new magna save feature. Unlike past magna saves this one is manual meaning that you will have to hold down the launch button when it passes through the magna save to make use of it. Keep in mind the magna save must be activated first through the striking of the appropriate targets. Before I forget there is also a ship 3D model floating on a platform at the upper right portion of the playing field. It should also be noted that triggered events have varying time limits. The Death Star event in particular lasts very shortly in comparison to the others.

As usual there's also a wizard mode that is activated by completing all of the table's movie themed events/missions. Once activated the wizard mode will open up higher scoring opportunities that can boost your high score so long as you keep the pinball rolling.

The verdict, as it were ...

The 'Star Wars: Rogue One' Zen Pinball 2 table is a perfect tribute table. It draws the player in without spoiling the movie. It's the type of experience that would no doubt inspire players to watch Rogue One if they have not already done so. The focal features for this table seem to be geared towards players who favor a more casual to intermediate challenge. It's not too difficult to score on by any means, but scoring high can be a challenge if you get careless. Visually the game is a beauty to behold. It's something Star Wars fans will appreciate. You'll easily recognize the characters through the gorgeous table art as well as through the 3D models. I definitely liked the layout this time around, and the overall feel of the table. Even though it is a standalone buy I think Zen Studios deserves your money, and your patronage for this one, especially if you are a Star Wars fan!

A reminder. This table like any other "Zen Pinball 2 / Pinball FX 2" table is available on multiple consoles, and multiple platforms. This includes the PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, and iOS/Android? devices. On console the experience is fairly much the same, but on handhelds like the PS Vita controls do sometimes change the way the game feels, and plays. My experience with Zen Pinball 2 on PS Vita has been fun, and somewhat easier according to scoring. The shoulder buttons seem to be more responsive on it. Not only that but you can take it on the go. As far as the Playstation trio of consoles go they actually allow for cross-buy meaning that if you own more than one of the consoles, and buy the table for one it can be downloaded for free on the others. It's a heck of a deal considering you'll only be paying around $5 for a pinball set, and less for a single table.

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