What a massive disappointment this game is.
For someone who played and loved the original Williams machines back in the day, I was looking forward to this -- looking forward to reliving nights in the bar 25 years back, 99 cent ryes and guilt-free cigarettes, terrible 80s music, all the memories. You know, without the bar, the rye, or the cigarettes. Maybe some 80s tunes, if nobody's around.
I don't know how the makers of this game got the licenses to those Williams pinballs, but I really wish they hadn't. The execution here is barely adequate at every turn, in stark contrast to the overall excellent (which is something I never thought I'd say for a Microsoft Studios game) Pinball FX2. How is this game disappointing, specifically?
Well: the UI doesn't work properly, in addition to being just plain ugly. Try changing key bindings, if you want an exercise in frustration. There doesn't seem to be any nod whatsoever to the sorts of niceties that Steam supports, utterly unlike the incredibly well-done leaderboard/friend functionality in Pinball FX2. The physics are just... wrong. The ball doesn't react to 'gravity' in a convincing way, and it only takes seconds of play for the illusion to be broken. The ball shudders and strobes as it 'rolls' in exactly the sort of way a real ball doesn't. Textures are inconsistent, weirdly low-resolution all over the place, and the lighting model is... odd. The 'room' in which the pinball table stands sports textures right out of the early 90s. Maybe that's a sly nod to the time period, but I doubt it.
This is, as far as I can tell, a straight-across port of the iPad game, right down to the touch-centric interface. But a game that looked and sounded adequate on an iPad2, and was worth every cent of the price -- free -- just doesn't cut it on a modern gaming PC without an attempt at least a little polish.
Worst of all, if you're a Williams afficionado, at least, is that they utterly failed to capture the truly distinct and unique feel of Williams machine flippers. Which is doubly ironic, because in playing Pinball FX2 for the last week or so, one thing I actually said to myself was "these flippers feel just like Williams' used to".
But to add insult to mediocrity, to actually get to play the Williams lineup of tables -- how I miss you, Pinbot! or Black Knight! -- the publishers of this game expect you to fork out $160 in DLC.
One hundred and sixty dollars? Are you high, guys? Seriously?
There is no way I can recommend this game to anyone but the most serious pinball fans, and even then, even though you might recapture some of the memories they're expecting you to pay through the nose for, you're going to be disappointed with the lack of polish and the pretty significant technical failings.
If this goes on sale, with all $160 worth of DLC (so far), for maybe 10 bucks, sometime, it might be worth it. But putting the lipstick of a reasonable price on it still won't make the cynical laziness of execution here any more attractive. Playing this for the few minutes left me more annoyed than anything else -- I hope if you take the plunge for the one free table at least, you have a better time with it.
Posted: November 26th, 2013