Aliens vs. Pinball review

8

Great

Zen Studios have been bringing some great tables to Pinball FX 2. In celebration of Aliens day – April 26 – Zen Studios have unleashed three tables set in the Aliens universe. Two of the tables are based on the films. One from arguably the best film in the quadrilogy, ALIENS, and the other from arguably the worst film, Alien vs. Predator – I guess they really wanted to include Predator somehow. The final table is based on the most recent Alien game, Alien Isolation.

Each table looks stunning, Aliens Pinball in particular looks like it could very well exist in some shady arcade by the seaside. It also sounds superb with sound clips taken from the film – although some of the one-liners do get awfully repetitive. The Aliens Pinball is also the least cluttered looking table. Lanes are well-marked and the table graphics don’t interfere with the layout making it enjoyable to look at and to play.

You can opt to go through the game modes of the Aliens Pinball table in either film order or by that of your own choosing. Once activated, the game modes range from putting up barricades and repelling Alien attacks to setting up the UA 571-C Sentry guns and navigating the M577 APC through the rubble of LV-426.

I found the modes to be really challenging, getting the ball up each ramp is a task that pinball wizards will easily accomplish, and while I struggled, I thoroughly enjoyed playing a table version of one of my favourite films – it’s just a shame that the queen only ever menacingly hisses as she looks on from her nest at the top of the table rather than stepping down to engage Ripley in combat.

Next in the lineup is Alien vs. Predator Pinball. This was the easiest table to get to grips with but the table graphics made it look rather cluttered and confusing to navigate. The table features a large open area at the bottom, with a few side ramps and an Alien lying in wait to grab your ball as it flies past. Once grabbed, one of the table’s game modes will start – and here lies the biggest problem – the Alien usually misses, which is rather frustrating. Hitting the few table elements and getting ramp shots doesn’t score too highly so game mode activation is the only way to shoot big – they also happen to be a lot of fun too.

One mode flips the table upside down as Aliens attack from the roof and another sees the table plunge into the thermal vision of the Predator. This table may not have the initial wow factor of the Aliens Pinball table, but there’s a hidden charm to it – minus the awkward symbol matching pyramid mini game!

Alien Isolation Pinball makes up the Aliens vs. pack. This table looks fantastic and as ambitious as the ideas are, it was my least favourite. The table is the smallest of the three making the action feel quite claustrophobic – perfect for mimicking the action of Creative Assembly’s title.

You must keep Amanda safe from the Alien, which stalks about the table, but getting her to safety seemed to be my biggest challenge. Thankfully she can’t die but her health will affect the final score.

Other enemies from Creative assembly’s game attack the table too, hitting them with the ball uses ammo which needs to be topped up if you hope to break out the flamethrower against the Alien – this of course is only awarded by completing mini games which were the most awkward of the three tables to activate. A small console must be hit and I really struggled to get a clean shot on it. There’s also a hacking game where you must match symbols by using the pinball to hit them, bouncing it off a paddle at the bottom – it’s easier said than done – and felt really clunky to play.

The Alien Isolation Pinball table looks fantastic – modeled on the corridors of Sevastopol Station station, it’s like the table has been dropped right into the middle of the station’s corridors forcing Amanda and the Alien to work around and over it.

The Aliens vs. Pinball pack is one addictive set of tables. Not only was I intent on beating my friends on the leaderboard, I was hooked to having “just one more go” in the hope of cracking the table’s many game modes, and while some mini games played rather oddly and the queen seemed to just hang out at the top of Aliens Pinball, Zen Studios have created an awesome set of tables that will make Aliens fans very happy.

Thanks to Zen Studios and Xbox for supporting TiX

Good

  • Aliens Pinball table
  • Great for casual and pro play
  • Just one more go

Bad

  • Odd mini games
  • Alien Isolation is clumsy in design
  • Alien misses the grab on the Predator table
8

Great

I've been gaming for longer than I care to remember and spent four years writing for another XCN website leading a 10 strong team. Now I'm in charge of TiX alongside Dave Moran – I hope you enjoy what we do!