Pinball FX 3 received a fair bit of praise when it launched at the end of last year, and rightfully so. With an easy to navigate front end, superb high score implementation and authentic pinball action, it was a big improvement on the already very good games that proceeded it. All Zen Studios had to do was release compelling new pinball tables that successfully utilised the boost in power that their new game engine provided.
The Last Jedi pack comes with two tables: there’s the Last Jedi table (I know – shocking right) and The Ankh-To Island table. Now, full disclosure here, I haven’t got around to watching The Last Jedi yet. It just had such a long run time and, try as a might, I just couldn’t care less about what happened to Rey and co next. That notwithstanding, it’s my understanding that the film split viewers right down the middle, with some loving its attempts to shake up the Star Wars formula and some hating the changes the film made to their nostalgia fix. It’s appropriate then that this latest release from Zen Studios follows this trend, one of the tables is very good and the other is a bit ‘meh’.
Let’s start with the good, or the light side if you will, as the Last Jedi Table itself is fantastic. It’s hugely ambitious in its scope, being a three tiered table with a whopping seven flippers under player control. Like Goldilock’s favourite bowl of porridge, the proportions of the table are just right, ensuring that control and awareness of table conditions remains with the player at all times. The table is structured around completing various scenes from the film, each transforming the table visually and requiring the player to send their ball hurtling at a variety of targets. Visually this is a delight; blaster fire zips over the play area, TIE fighters pirouette around bumpers, Rey does stuff with rocks to impress Luke, and transport ships land in a blast of flame and smoke.
The table looks incredible as it becomes a battleground in front of your eyes. The cost of this is that it’s easy to lose track of your ball amidst the chaos – making this a poor choice for pinball purists. However, I found the table an intense and frantic experience. Sound effects, music and voice overs are, as you would expect, to a high standard throughout and really help to create that quintessential Star Wars feel.
Then there’s the Ankh-To Island table, which in contrast to all of the explosive action I’ve just described is a bit dull. It’s a dreary trudge that never gets going. That moment of seamless flow as the player glides up to high score is never achieved. In fact, because this is an empty table strangely vacant of unique features, be prepared to be playing it for a long time to achieve a high score. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on the type of pinball you enjoy. Despite a rather pleasant day and night cycle, there are not a lot of visual flourishes either. It feels as if the majority of content, passion and creativity went into the first table, leaving the second as an empty vessel, simply there to bulk up the overall content of this add-on package.
Whilst not as divisive as the film they are based on, The Last Jedi tables are certainly polar opposites. You’ll find an incredible cinematic pinball experience with the Last Jedi table, but the Ankh-To Island table just gives you good reason to keep on playing The Last Jedi table instead! Overall, with one good table and one poor one, this new pack feels too insubstantial to be a must have.