Zen Studios don’t do things by halves, so when the chance to collaborate with video game behemoths Bethesda popped up, they decided to release not one, not two, but three pinball tables inspired by their games. The Bethesda Pinball pack for Pinball FX2 contains brand new tables based on three of the most popular franchises… ever! Surely they are onto a winner then?
First up, it’s time to take a trip to hell with DOOM. Despite its hellish nature, DOOM is surprisingly the easiest of the three to grasp, and really feels like it has captured the high-octane action of the game itself. Monsters in drop target form can arrive in their droves at the top of a well spaced layout, whilst a real beast known as the Cyberdemon lurks in 3D model form to cause hassle from the second you launch a ball. Visually it looks the part and sound-wise, the music is quite heavy in order to set the tone and totally works to complement the play.
I’m quite easily pleased with tables, as long as they have features to make them standout from the multitude of others out there. That’s why I’m so impressed with DOOM; you’ll be shooting at portals, manoeuvring levitating rocks to stop a ball from falling within the pit of evil, and upgrading health and armour. Why would health be an issue? Well, missions aren’t timed; instead, you’ve got however long you need to succeed as long as your HP isn’t fully depleted. Just another reason for me to love a table based on a game I’ve seldom bothered with.
And if that concept doesn’t impress you then what can be found in the other two might, or it’ll simply overwhelm you. I’m more in the latter camp to be honest, but that doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate the sheer brilliant complexity on offer for those willing to spend a decent amount of time trying to figure it all it.
Where the Fallout table takes it up a notch is by having a create-a-character bit, albeit a simple one, at the start of proceedings. Choosing your gender is followed by numerous skills for your character to possess, ranging from increased XP to reduced shop prices – yes, there’s a shop. And then you’re randomly assigned a companion, whose portrait will lie near the ball launcher. The idea is to keep your health up and minimise radiation exposure to ensure maximum points are reaped from your time on the playfield.
I have to credit Zen for managing to bring all the drabness of a post-apocalyptic world, whilst also designing a good enough layout to enable the table to have plenty of lanes and ramps to shoot up. There’s even room for two additional flippers, which add multiple shot variations to reach those tricky parts. Where I find it lacks though, is in the mini-games area. So far, the most exciting thing I’ve seen is a few pop-up enemies, and the rest of the quests I’ve been able to discover involve performing mundane shot types for different factions. A nice touch is the collecting of Vault Boy Bobbleheads upon certain task completion.
The final table is inspired by a little known game called The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. If you’re anything like me, you must wonder how such a vast and great world can transfer into a usually standard pinball table. Well, there’s an inventory for your weapons and armor, enemies in play have actual health bars, and your main objective is to destroy Alduin… a bloody big dragon!
I don’t tend to frequent Pinball FX2 to battle World Eaters and manage my inventory, but you should give it a go because it’s awesome. Just like the other two tables, the actual design is on-point, with the play area not being too cluttered either. It absolutely thrives on the mini game front, featuring lock picking chests and a very cool tilt game used to explore caves, with many routes to reach the exit. Even the music gets you in the mood to go on an adventure; I’m not sure there’s ever been a more fitting homage developed by Zen Studios.
Bethesda Pinball represents all three games in their own unique way to a very high standard, with DOOM and Skyrim amongst my absolute favourite tables of all time – it helps that I had a rather large score on DOOM, but now isn’t the time to brag. Fallout wasn’t as exciting as the others, but then again I’m not particularly into the post-apocalyptic world it brings.
I have very little doubt that fans of the series’ will adore this reasonably priced Pinball FX2 pack, as will those unconverted to the major Bethesda franchises. Zen Studios have gone the extra mile, and it really shows.