Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue Review (XBLA, PSN)

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Announced a few months ago at Comic-Con (and an ideal place for it, no doubt), Zen Studios’ Vengeance and Virtue pack for Marvel Pinball couldn’t have come at a better time.  The initial tables, including Spider-Man and Wolverine, struck a chord with pinball and comic book fans alike, and the DLC tables that have come out since have done equally well.  Now, after months of waiting, we finally get to go tilt crazy with four new tables in the collection, featuring Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, the X-Men and Thor.

Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue

Like previous entries in the Marvel Pinball entity (or Pinball FX 2 if you’re playing on Xbox Live), these tables lean heavily on their heroic themes, yet dabble in the particular universe for each one.  For example, in Thor, you’ll combat the mighty Devastator or take on the bothersome (and odd-looking) Loki; in X-Men, Magneto will be a thorn in your side, and the Blob (“NOTHING MOVES THE BLOB!”) will pop up on occasion.  Also, we like how the devil has a permanent place on the Ghost Rider table.

Each table is fully supported with online leaderboards, three Achievements/Trophies apiece, and add-ons to your previous Pinball Wizard score, so you can pick up right where you left off when it comes to pursuing high scores and showing your friends who the pinball boss is.  The interactive leaderboards are always a great feature for this sort of game, so you can see who’s eating your dust – and who’s still the pinball king (or queen) on your block.

Now, let’s break down each of the tables themselves; we’ll start with the weakest one.

The Thor table, though authentic when it comes to following the Myriad of the Asgard hero (who found Hollywood fame earlier this summer), isn’t half bad.  Some of the skill shots are pretty cool, and it’s interesting how your ball is evaporated into a rainbow to Asgard’s gates when you need to start a new round.  But too often, the ramps are a little steep for their own good, which means your ball will come rolling back to you more often than you’d prefer.  What’s more, Thor won’t shut up.  He continuously talks about Asgard (“FOR ASGARD!”) no matter what you’re shooting at.  If you can get past these hindrances, you’re in for a  treat.

Second up is The X-Men table, and while we prefer the raw nature of the Wolverine table (which was included in the initial Marvel Pinball release), this one is pretty good.  Some familiar characters pop up throughout, including Professor X, Magneto and Iceman, and there are plenty of ramps and scoring lanes to shoot the ball into.  The skill shot at the beginning is somewhat iffy (you have to be PERFECT with Cyclops’ launch beam or lose it), and some upper table stuff is tough to shoot at, but we’re pleased with it.

Then we have the Ghost Rider table, and this is a really cool one.  There’s something going on all over the table, whether it’s with the upper ramps (complete with spinning roulette wheel), a reverse flipper shootout, that devil (as we mentioned earlier) and a cool shotgun that sits on the left hand corner, occasionally setting up a mother of a skill shot.  This table runs nice and clean, and is more entertaining in a few minutes’ time than the entirety of that Nicolas Cage film.  Yep, we said it.  (Granted, we’re not talking about the sequel just yet, we’ll give it a chance.)  Ghost Rider is a must buy.

Finally, we’ve saved the best for last, and ironically enough, it’s probably the most obscure.  Moon Knight features a suave, futuristic setting for its table, with a variety of trick shots to shoot for, along with ramps and some well-placed bumpers.  What’s more, it’s easy to activate bonus rounds and set up some good scoring runs, ideal for keeping up in the leaderboards.  Plus the sound is fantastic, the visuals look great, and that flying-in intro is vastly different from any previous pinball game before it.  If you’re only going to buy one table, give this a go.

Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue

Overall, Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue is quite the continuation of the series.  Though it doesn’t change much when it comes to formula, it delivers exactly where it needs to, with a series of great pinball tables and fresh new competition for you and your online buddies.  Also, it’s true to the sheer nature of the Marvel comics themselves.  What more could you ask for?  (Well, besides a Squirrel Girl table, obviously…)

[Reviewed on PlayStation 3]

Great

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Robert Workman
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