Published on October 17th, 2017 | by Chris Ramirez, Editor
Zen Pinball FX3 Review
Editor’s Note: A game code was provided for the purpose of this review
Zen Studios has been making a concern effort in creating great communities around their recent games. We can see the start of community building in Zen Pinball FX2 and how a great community can help build content with Mini Golf Infinity. Zen Pinball FX3 is continuing this trend.
Zen Pinball FX3 is all about the community. Zen Studios has built multiple game modes and masterfully integrated challenges that put you against others of the community in essentially a single player experience. This now includes a ranking system with that unlocks special abilities. The better you score, the more experience you will obtain. The special abilities give you a small advantage including the ability to extend bonus times, score bonus for skill shots and combos, ability to rewind time, and more. Each table has the same abilities but they are unlocked only when you complete certain task on that table.
Zen Pinball FX3 was released with Universal Classic table pack which includes theme tables of Jaws, Back to the Future, and E.T. In addition, most of Zen Pinball’s backlog of themed tables from Zen Pinball and Zen Pinball FX2 is backwards compatible with Zen Pinball FX3. The love, care, and listening to the community has shown on the treatment of the backwards compatible tables. It would have been easy for Zen Studios to integrate the older tables through an emulation software making the tables playable without any of the new features Zen Pinball FX3 offers. However, Zen Studios took the time to integrate the new Zen Pinball FX3 features to all of the older tables. This includes the new special abilities, being included in weekly challenges, and multiplayer challenges. Integrating the new features brings a new life to old tables.
Earlier theme packs suffered from the same issue of one table being more feature rich compared to the other included tables. One table will be obviously bigger than the others, include more bonus rounds, sound bits, and animation. Naturally, the bigger tables got the most attention which can be seen in the leader board results. The new FX3 features provides the motivation needed to make these smaller tables fun and competitive. I find myself going through my library trying to unlock all of the special abilities for each table to use during the multiplayer challenges. All to gain more experience to increase my rank. I have developed new table favorites all because of the simple motivation the FX3 features provide.
The Universal Classic table packs fit right in the rest of the older tables. Just like the more recent table packs, each of the tables can highlight their own pack. JAWS table follows the events of the first movie. Back to the Feature table covers all three movies. You are able to pick which movie and era you want to start your game in. I love how you can pick the era and each era has its own bonuses and distinct feel. E.T. table follows the events of the movie with wonderful bonuses. I tend to play JAWS and Back to the Future tables more over the E.T. table simple because of the movie preferences.
Zen Pinball FX3 runs incredibly well for the most part. I did find some experiences where the game will freeze or lose frame rates causing you to lose your timing. I noticed a lot of the slowdowns occurring during the console notifications. I was downloading all of the backwards compatible tables well playing and all of the notifications caused gameplay issues. Either the game will freeze or the ball will jump positions as soon as the notification pops up.
Other than this issue, the game runs extremely well. Just like in Zen Pinball FX2, the physics of the game are accurate to an actual pinball machine.
The Final Truth
Zen Pinball FX3 builds on a great foundation built from Zen Pinball FX and Zen Pinball FX2. By adding more community focused modes, presentation, and challenges brings an excellent new element to an already addicting gameplay. The challenge of beating another online gamer’s score and unlocking the special abilities as an excellent way to get reconnected with forgotten tables within your collection. If you do not have a lot of tables available in your collection, these new modes will make you want to fill out your collection so more. The Universal Collection pack continues Zen Studios’ trend of excellent tables packs where each table could have been the highlighted table of their own table packs. Zen Pinball is definitely a most have for everyone. Zen Pinball FX3 is available for free with one of their own themed tables included on PSN, Xbox Live, and PC. With the Zen Studios constantly adding more backward compatible tables to Zen Pinball FX3, there is going to be a table that will interest you.