Zen Pinball Avengers Chronicles Review

WWH

Zen Studios has to stumble at some point on their pinball tables right? I can safely assure you however, that their latest licensed set of tables does not indicate they have any plans on messing up what they’ve perfected just yet. When I think of video pinball, the amazingly detailed and over the top Zen tables are the ones I think of, and I now have four more tables to eat up my time thanks to the Avenger Chronicles which comes out today June 19 on PSN, and June 20 on Xbox Live Arcade. ¬†As with their other tables these seamlessly integrate into the platform of your choice complete with the outstanding leaderboard integration, multiplayer gaming and multiple modes of play that we all expect. Rather than focus on a single character per table however, the four tables in the Avenger Chronicles are more story based, and feature our Avengers in action.

The four tables are, World War Hulk, The Avengers, Fear Itself and The Infinity Gauntlet. World War Hulk is obviously centered on the Hulk where he takes on other superheroes in a Manhattan that’s in shambles, which includes a side trip to Madison Square Garden in one of the mini game modes this package offers. WWH is a very fast table once you get momentum up and running, with some killer combos seeming to pour from your flippers. This is definitely in the top two tables this package has to offer after a weekend full of play from yours truly.

Fear Itself is the weakest of the bunch so far for me – but like all other tables I am sure I’ll come around on this once I figure out the flow of the table. I found this table to be a little cluttered and it’s odd rounded shape seemed to play tricks with my mind as I am sure the playfield is the same shape as standard tables, but the illusion makes it seem off. This table has Thor and other heroes taking on The Serpent, an Asgardian villain – and it features a very neat Bejeweled inspired transition from the main playfield to a dark version of Asgard for its minigame. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

The Avengers is the most unique of the bunch featuring one ball for each of the six characters you can play, each with different ball skins and scoring effects. For example, Captain America’s ball is red, white and blue as you may suspect, and it has a longer ball save mechanic as well as combo boosting, whereas Hulk’s ball features power shots and automatic powered up bumpers for enhanced scoring. The field reminds me a lot of the Iron Man table from the first Marvel pack that Zen put out – and that’s sadly not a great thing. It’s still a fun table to get going as you combine superhero balls during multiplayer for some great scoring combos.

The best table of the bunch is The Infinity Gauntlet – and for reasons that need to be played to fully appreciate. As you collect power gems during this table, you’ll experience effects such as the ball slowing down, massively powering up to destroy a stone God monument, or the most insane of them all completely flipping upside down for a crazy table effect. Thankfully during some of the more insane effects, the ball will automatically come back into play similar to how it did during Mysterio’s mode on the Spiderman table. Again this can be a fast table that requires some precision in your shots, but once things start to flow the time just slips through your fingers.

The biggest downside to this for me (and I played it on the Xbox) was the single achievement per table rather than the up until now standard three. Perhaps this is a limitation set forth by Microsoft, but I much prefer getting three increasingly challenging achievements for 50 points total than a more simple single achievement of the same value. Given that this is my only complaint with the title, rest assured that this pack is well worth the 800 MSFT points on Xbox, or $10 on PSN. When it comes to value for time to investment, Zen Studios ends up only earning pennies per hour based on my playtime.

Score: 9: Yet Again Zen Studios delivers some of the best video pinball tables they’ve produced. Changing up from character based to more cohesive story based didn’t cause them to miss a beat. Fast, tricky and gorgeous tables are again the norm here – make sure you get your friends list to buy these as well, as the leaderboard integration still remains one of the best implementations on the console.

Platform reviewed: Xbox 360

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