So, you’ve got Plants vs. Zombies in one hand and Pinball FX in the other. Slowly bring those hands together, bite lower lip a la David Brent, and, viola! Ok, so, that was perhaps a tad unnecessary given that the title pretty much puts the concept up on front street, but hey, a boy has gotta start a review don’t he!?
Anyway, with that nonsense out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. As the title makes abundantly clear, this is the coming together of PopCap Games’ hugely popular Plants vs. Zombies franchise with Zen Studios’ hugely popular Pinball FX franchise. Unlike the majority of tables that are simply skinned with the relevant visual style with PopCap left to actually design the fundamentals of each tables mechanics, this one was actually developed as a conjunction between the two companies, and in fairness, it really does show.
While there have been a plethora of great licensed Pinball FX tables, few have captured the spirit of the source material as well as has been here. From the brilliant visual cues, to the outstanding audio, every aspect of Pinball FX: Plants vs. Zombies’ design is geared towards evoking the core playing experience of PopCap’s finest.
The inclusion of an array of zombies, a host of gardening-based power-ups and, of course, a cameo from the much loved, Crazy Dave, probably would have been enough to see this table do well (and in fairness, they are all here in an abundance), but it’s the way in which the table specific missions are so closely linked to the core mechanics of the Plants vs. Zombies tower defence template that really makes this table stand out from the crowd.
While the relatively low number of mission (5 to be precise) might prove a point of contention for some, the ones here are of such a consistently high standard that the majority of gamers won’t even notice. From the brilliant incorporation of zombie attacks to a fantastically frantic face-off against Dr. Zombos (well, it was frantic for somebody of my limited skill anyway), each mission brims with character, polished design and a pleasing reverence for the source material. Most importantly though, Plants vs. Zombies fan or not, this is, simply put, a great pinball table. Previous experience with PopCap’s tower defence classic is certainly preferable, but far from essential to your enjoyment of the game.
With its wide lanes, relatively easy targets and limited pitfalls, Pinball FX: Plants vs. Zombies is, unsurprisingly, a rather forgiving table. It’s a table easy to learn but, perhaps more importantly, difficult to master. Accessible to newcomers and those who have been tempted by the Plants vs. Zombies license, but like the best tables out there, home to plenty of depth and a multitude of ways for the hardcore to rack up some ludicrously high scores. Zen Studios and PopCap’s collaborative effort walks the fine line of accessibility to a tee, but then, coming from the combined development of two such skilled developers, we really shouldn’t be surprised, should we.
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