Pinball FX3 Review
Pinball FX3 (PS4-Xbox-PC) – One more game is never enough!
Pinball FX3 is the latest pinball game from Zen Studios and out on PS4 Xbox and PC . All of the core gameplay from the last game remains but has been expanded in some new and rather interesting ways, more on that later.
One of the first things I should mention is how deeply I am impressed with Zen Studios, the core game is free and includes one table however you are able to import almost all of your old tables from Zen Pinball 2 (FX2 on the PC). This means the game has a very impressive starting line up of tables. Previous customers are not asked to re-buy tables again to get access to the new features on their favourite tables. In this day and age that loyalty to fans is a rare commodity.
New to this version is the “Upgrades” system, this allows you to level up score multipliers, bumper scores, etc to give you a bit of an edge on the tables. These upgrades can be used in the new “Matchup” and “Tournament” modes along with Wizard powers!
So what are Wizard powers? Sadly you can not unleash fireballs on your rival pinballers, what you get is a lot more useful but, does leave fewer soot stains!
There are three Wizard powers per table;
- Rewind time – up to about 6 seconds, and although this does not refill during the game it can, when used right, mean the difference between ball out and beating that high score your mate set.
- Score boost – I find this the hardest to use, basically whenever you press triangle (on the ps4) your ball gets about half a second where a score multiplier is added. If timed right it can be very rewarding, however, it is awkward to do and hard to time. You can only use this a few times per game.
- Slow motion – Makes the ball move…you guessed it ….in slow motion, I have personally never found a use for this.
To earn the Wizard powers you play the new challenge modes, which is yet another fantastic addition to the game. Each table has 3 challenges, the first two are self-explanatory 1 ball and 5-minute time limit. The 3rd challenge is survival, which gives you a 60 second time limit to reach a target goal, once you hit that goal the target is increased and the timer reset. All of these modes are fun to play and help you get a good feel for the table.
The Tournament mode allows you to go up against the world (all systems share the same scoreboards for these, however, you can opt to only be in the list of your system) by creating a set of rules, a time limit of anything from 1 day to a week and picking a table. If you do not wish to set one up yourself you can join someone else’s and there are plenty of filters to allow you to find just the game modes you want to join in on. The options you have are immense and yes you can turn off the Wizard powers and upgrades to make for a level playing field. Personally, I am partial to the 5-minute tournaments where you have to score as many points as you can in 5 minutes.
The last new game mode is “Matchup” this is more your official huge tournament, 4 tables are picked by the zen studio guys at the start of each week and you can play them all (if you own all of them) or just keep replaying your favourite. Each table has 3 scores you can choose to beat, think of them as easy, medium and Hard if you beat the score you choose within the 3-minute time limit you get some points (you get bonus points for playing more tables and/or dominating your chosen score. At the end of the week, those in the top 20% move to the next league of the tournament and those in the bottom 20% drop back to the last league. Given that all systems compete in the same tournament it can be pretty tough to get in the last 20% and sadly it does mean that those with more time to play will fair better regardless of skill.
The controls are perfect for the game (at least on ps4, I assume they are the same for pc with a pad(cannot imagine playing it with a keyboard) and Xbox). Even giving the table a sneaky nudge (which I would never do) is just a quick flick of the thumb.
Pinball FX3 looks amazing, the tables all have clear textures and run silky smooth. Where it really shines though is in the animations, here is where traditional pinball tables just cannot compete. Be it trying to hit tie fighters flying about to watching the Knight from epic quest galloping on his wooden horse, the animations are all smooth and impressive.
On the ps4 version, I did not see any framerate issues even when playing the back to the future table with 3 multi-balls active (about 10 balls on the table, I have no idea what was going on and all I could do was keep them on the table but it was smooth)
Everyone gets how pinball works so the core gameplay should never be an issue and the new modes, features, etc, all have little tutorial tips. Not once did I feel out of my depth or confused with the game.
Since the core game is free and comes with a free table, it is easy to test the game out and see if you enjoy it. The free table is also a very good representation of the other tables in terms of quality and features, although all the tables have their own unique features. Each table pack you can buy are you unique and it is clear that a lot of time and effort go into each individual table. Well worth every penny.
I said it in the Pro section, this is the best pinball game I have ever played the mix of realistic ball physics and unrealistic but awesome table features, it really is a hell of a lot of fun. Add in the competitive features and the fact that all major systems can compete together in the tournaments and you have an amazing game.
So yes I recommend it, grab yourself some tables too.
- Realistic ball physics.
- A huge improvement over the last game which was already rather good.
- You can import already owned tables
- Huge list of tables (68 at the time this review was written)
- Every table is fully featured and animated, the detail that goes into these is awe inspiring.
- The new tournament mode allows you to challenge people long after your mates have looked at your high scores and backed away shaking their heads.
- The unlock system is a unique idea in pinball and one I found really enjoyable.
- It really is the best pinball game I have ever played (and I have been playing them on and off since pinball fantasies on the Amiga!)
- All three main systems share the scores and tournaments, that is a lot of people to play against.
- It is a free game (with 1 free table)
- You can trial any table for 5 minutes as many times as you want before purchase.
- Many tables have unique features (like the ability to level up the knight in Epic quest)
- Not all the tables made it over to FX3 (including my old favourite, Plants vs Zombies) it is my hope they will be added later though I suspect there were licensing issues.
- Due to the way tables are sold in packs, it is possible to have a table or two from importing that is in the pack meaning you may have to re-buy some tables to get the missing ones (far from ideal)
- Die-hard pinball fans may not like the upgrade system, but it is optional.
- New users only get one table free.
- Despite the “Matchup” mode being 3 minutes long and the trials of tables being 5 minutes, you can not use the trial versions of tables in Matchup.