The Xbox LIVE Arcade marketplace may be a packed market when it comes to arcade games but if pinball is your thing then there is only one game you need to look at. Pinball FX 2 is different to your average arcade game. It’s actually free to download however once downloaded you have the options of which tables you wish to acquire, at a price of course. Think of it as Call of Duty but you only pay for the maps you want to play, quite a good idea but if you want all the maps (or tables in this case) it can become a little pricey. As previously stated, the pinball market isn’t exactly jam-packed with games; however any pinball enthusiast will feel right at home with Pinball FX 2.

If you are that enthusiast the chances are you’ve already purchased and played Pinball FX which will give you a clear idea of what to expect. FX 2 brings new tables, new visuals and new game play mechanics. Starting off with the table selection there is a whopping thirteen tables to choose from ranging from 800MS points for a pack of four, or 200MS points for those tables which can be purchased individually. The four tables from FX return and if you’ve already downloaded FX these will be free in FX2, however your scores do not get carried over, which is a shame. The main pack in FX contains four new tables each of different styles and difficulty. Take table Rome for example, during this table you have to sink enemy ships and defeat civilisations … playing pinball. It’s pretty exciting. Then there’s an alien like table named Biolab that during play requires you to evolve an alien by hitting certain parts of the table. On top of that there are also mini-games involved to add a little variety in what would otherwise be plain and simple controlling of the flippers.

That pack will cost you 800MS Points which isn’t too bad considering how much time will be spent flapping those flippers. If you were to purchase all the tables it would cost you 2600MS Points, so it’s a good thing that you can trial each table prior to purchase. This will help avoid you wasting your money on tables that you don’t quite like, however it must be said that all the tables I have are pretty good fun and a worthy purchase, due to their addictive nature.

I don’t know what it is about high scores but I love trying to be the best. This is where FX 2 excels from FX. The addiction level is cranked up tenfold if you have several friends online who also have the game. Even when playing on your own you’ll see a friend’s avatar pop up on screen telling you how far they are in front of you. Our very own Marty has the game and there’s nothing better than trying to beat a fellow member of staff at a high score challenge. With Marty’s score usually beaten I then find myself staring at another friend LIVE user who has a monster score. This only makes it more infuriating when you’re so close to beating a score but mistimed the left flipper or shake the table to much that it locks down and you lose the ball. It does make you have “one more shot” though.

If you’re fed up beating scores offline the next thing to do is take on the world of Xbox LIVE. I’ve yet to struggle to get a game like many arcade titles around which is great to see and the variety of games available to play are all very flexible. A simple race to one million points could be your cup of tea or the more exciting race to one million with an added difference – every time you lose a ball, you lose your score. This will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat especially when you are close to the winning total. No doubt over time the number of users will fade, but it’s still great if you have friends who play online.

So far Pinball FX 2 has improved vastly on its predecessor in almost every department. So what about the graphics and game mechanics? To start with the graphics have received a glossy shine and ooze colour through my HD television. The flashing lights to the shiny silver ball certainly keep the protons bouncing behind the screen busy. Apparently the ball physics have received an overhaul, but to be honest I didn’t notice much difference. The ball moves realistically and if timed correctly it can easily be smashed around the table.

To sum up, if you like or love pinball then Pinball FX 2 is definitely for you and you’d be ‘flippin’ mad not to purchase at least one set of the new tables. There is a high addiction factor and combine that with the excellent on-screen friend’s leaderboards there’s no better pinball game on the market.

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