Since Pinball FX2 arrived on Xbox One, Zen Studios have been hammering out the tables like nobodies business, with them usually taking a worldwide franchise and putting their own unique twist on things. The latest pack however, Iron & Steel, sees them go slightly against the grain as it doesn’t follow the usual route, instead bringing two original ideas to the table.
First up is the Castlestorm table. Based around Zen’s own videogame with the same name, the Castlestorm theme sees you team up with everyones favourite heroic knight Sir Gareth as together you attempt to protect the Kingdom once again from Chief Ramhorn and his rampaging hordes of vicious Vikings. If you’ve ever played the original 2D physics based strategic destroyer then you’ll be immediately at home with what Zen have done with the Pinball variant. And thankfully it’s just as good as the game it is based on.
From the moment your ball gets kicked into play by one of your loyal donkeys, you immediately get whisked back into the world of Sir Gareth as every hit of the three flippers sees you attempt to light up numerous channels in order to gain the highest score possible and set up some superb mini games in the process. Whether you set about stopping the Berserkers from marching down the playfield, spend some time trying to raise a sleeping fire breathing dragon or get involved in the double flipping mini game that sees you bombard the castle, both Castlestorm and Pinball fans alike will be amazed at what Zen have pulled off.
It’s superbly bright, wonderfully colourful and has an awful lot going on, but it feels great to be back in the combat zone albeit from an entirely different perspective than before. Highscores are reasonably easy to reach as well as the simple activation of numerous kickbacks ensure that your score, and indeed the combos, keep on rising for every second your ball is in play.
The Castlestorm table is without a shadow of doubt the standout side of the pack, but that’s not to say the Wild West table that has been included should be overlooked.
Starring Cindy, a bounty hunter arriving on a steam train into the old Western town of Rackton Point, you’ll find that she has a bit of an issue with the town’s crooked Sheriff Evans. With her sights set firmly on defeating his men, you’ll need to fire those balls through swinging saloon doors and take on the odd duel or two with some of Sheriff Evans posse.
Multiballs seem to play a major part in Cindy’s progress and this seems to be the best way to earn the high points with a ballsave featuring prominently whilst more than one shiny sphere is in play. If you are skilled enough to be able to grab the multiball mode on offer then you’ll see your score rocketing skyward whilst pinging your way towards the train that brought you into town should occasionally see you dropping into a mini game with a bit of a difference.
The Wild West Rampage may not have the glowing graphics that come with the Castlestorm table but as is the way with the vast majority of what Zen drop, it is highly detailed and filled with explosions. In fact, there may just be a little too much going on for my liking as it’s fairly easy to become distracted with the numerous activities taking place.
Both the Iron and indeed the Steel side of the pack include the usual solo player mode, hotseats for up to four local players and the incredibly fun splitscreen mode for two friends to battle it out on. Worldwide leaderboards are obviously also present…could you play Pinball without the inclusion of those?
Due to my ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to many of the franchises Zen have previously pinballed, I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of previous tables that have released, but with the Iron and Steel pack, they’ve produced something of the very highest quality. The Castlestorm side of things is pretty mindblowing and I don’t put that just down to my love of the original full game either. The Wild West inclusion is a more than solid offering and when you put the two together, you get a pack that, in my opinion, has yet to be bettered.
It may not have the might of Marvel behind it and there may not be any zombies to smash around but the combination of Iron & Steel is a great one.
Make sure you get out there and pick it up right now.