Zen Pinball 2 is an interesting game to discuss. So interesting, in fact, that it’s a rare game that I couldn’t put a score on if I tried. For those of you out of the loop, downloading the “game” itself is free, but with that comes no actual free tables and only a series of demos to play until you decide to put some cash into it.
As one might expect, Zen Pinball 2 is the sequel to Zen Pinball, an (obviously pinball) title that released to PSN a few years ago. Focusing on fun more than a realistic experience, the title proved to be one of the best of its kind and acted as an antithesis to other pinball games by gleefully acknowledging its lack of realism through living, moving characters on tables, and wondrous designs that could only have been done in a video game. Not that this is a bad thing, as the series always delivered stellar visuals and physics so tight that the tables feel realistic despite being in-your-face about the opposite.
Where Zen Pinball 2 comes in is to act as a new vehicle to play already-released content as well as everything upcoming. The user interface is simplified and improved, the physics are further tightened (to the point where The Pinball Arcade is getting a run for its money), and graphics that look absolutely stellar. In addition, all previously purchased tables (and a new Plants vs. Zombies table) can be imported into the sequel, granting a launch of 26 different tables to play as of this moment.
In addition to that, the game adds:
- Facebook support
- New trophies for all tables
- Trial versions of all tables to play
- New rule sheets to help beginners understand the proper rules
- Cross platform play with PlayStation Vita; If you buy a table on PlayStation 3 or Vita, you can play it on the other for no additional cost.
While I did try it on PlayStation 3 to test that the game still controls as well as you would expect, a great chunk of my time was spent on Vita. Thankfully, that version controls like a dream. I say thankfully because this content is perfectly suited for the handheld space and having it right on the device makes for a solid pick-up-and-play experience. The only flaw I see in playing the handheld is that turning the system changes the perspective of the table. This sounds like an excellent way to play, but the controls are so sensitive that I would find the table upside-down on the screen at times just because I tilted it the wrong way. While standing as a minor detraction, don’t expect my gripe to ruin the experience.
If you have a PS3, Vita, or both, there is very little excuse to pass up on this after considering the plethora of trials that become immediately available. It gives you everything you loved about the original while just…giving you more of it. What could be better than that?
I also had the opportunity to play the new Plants vs. Zombies table, based on the popular PopCap game. Fans of the series should find plenty to love, as the table is loaded with fan service. Easily the best part of it happens when the actual Zombies rise from the ground and approach the flippers, and the player is tasked with knocking them out as they come up. It’s probably my favorite table from the three or four I’ve played and acts as a good showpiece for the new game.