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Pinball FX3

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Simulation
Developer: Zen Studios
Release Date: Sept. 26, 2017


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Xbox One Review - 'Pinball FX3' - Jurassic World

by Cody Medellin on May 23, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Designed to bring the community together like never before, Pinball FX3 is built around multiplayer match-ups and competitive tournament play.

Zen Studios' proficiency with original digital pinball tables is well known by now, and it agreement with Universal has meant that the parade of licensed pinball tables continues unabated. That's a very good thing, as Universal has more than enough licenses that fit thematically with some silver ball action. After showing what it can do with classics like Jaws, E.T., and Back to the Future, the team has returned to take on the big dinosaur series known as Jurassic Park. Not only is it a perfect fit for pinball, especially since the first movie and its sequel had real-life pinball tables, but it also serves as a loose tie-in for the upcoming "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom." Already on a hot streak as far as quality tables go, this latest pack shows no sign of that changing.

Before moving on to the tables, bear in mind that the three tables in this title only cover two films: "Jurassic Park" and "Jurassic World." Those looking for tables based on either "The Lost World" or "Jurassic Park III" are completely out of luck, as they get no recognition here. Depending on how much of a fan you are of those films, their absence can either be a blessing or a disappointment.

The first table in the pack is Jurassic World, and people will notice the table looks rather dull. Despite the usual flourishes, like the Indominus Rex in the upper right corner and the Pterodactyls hanging out in the return chutes, the table is awash in gray, similar to the overall color scheme from the movie posters. The trees bordering the table aren't as vibrant as one would expect, and the same goes for the logs that act as your ramps.

Thankfully, the table layout is good enough to combat the darker aesthetics. The bottom half of the table is quite empty most of the time, but it fills up with special things, like giant raptor heads, once you trigger specific events. The top half is where all of the action is; bunches of ramps and return chutes populate the area. The left side of the table is where the bumpers reside, while the center has a few more difficult ramps to get to, and there are flippers in the center and on the right-side return chute to help you get the more difficult shots. Also of interest are the giant pool in the upper left and the Indominus Rex standing tall on the table's upper right side.

The table follows the traits of others in the Pinball FX series in that you'll get a decent score by just hitting flippers, but it'll take some true skill to get the opening skill shot and any shots that open up quests. The reliance on pure video game elements is very light, making this a table that traditionalists will love. Players have an option to either select any mission they want or have the chance to play those missions in chronological movie order, perfect for those who don't want to stop the action to think about where they want to go next.

The table for the original "Jurassic Park" is up next, and those who remember the movie well will get some serious nostalgia vibes. The table is brightly colored and surrounded by an electrical fence, complete with one broken section. Interestingly, the T-Rex is already on the field, so there's no element of surprise in seeing its head peek from behind the gate. Otherwise, there are tons of little nods to the film, including the iconic park gates, night vision goggles, multi-colored jeep, and can of shaving cream.

Much like the Jurassic World table, this one is more top-heavy, but that's more pronounced here since the table is also a little more squat. The bottom half of the table is relatively empty, while the top half is absolutely packed. There are more than a few ramps and pathways that go around the top half of the table, but the return chutes prove to be the most interesting parts since they coil around the middle before emptying out on the sides, making a big spectacle of their travels in the process. The back of the table also hides the bumpers, so expect the ball to hang out for a bit once it's shot there.

Of all of the tables in the pack, this one is the most susceptible to lower scores, especially with the near-impossible skill shot. It isn't like the side paths of doom have larger points of entry, but for some reason, the ball seems to gravitate there more than in any other table. Unlike Jurassic World, this table contains a few more video game elements, particularly when the raptors get out of their pens and hang out near the bottom flippers to cause chaos.

The final table is Jurassic Park Pinball Mayhem, and even though the series' second and third films aren't covered in the pack, this table feels like it would be a bridge between the past and present films. You play as a team of soldiers dedicated to clearing out the now-abandoned park. Despite its dilapidated nature, the table is very colorful and easily the most vibrant of the bunch. It also happens to contain an accelerated weather system and day and night cycles, so the more time you spend on the table, the higher chance you have of seeing a nighttime rainstorm pass by.

The table shares the squat nature of Jurassic Park, but it feels more filled in since the ramps start closer to the center. The return chutes snake around the table, but they aren't as elaborate as they are in the other tables. The ramps, however, are more interesting since they have multiple entryways and tend to hide their paths well, making it a surprise when they come out because they're tougher to anticipate.

This table is easily one where you'll get really high scores. Part of that comes from the fact that the missions are easier to come by and they're also easier to complete. The same goes for the skill shot, which involves hitting the Stegosaurus tail followed by a quick hit on the T-Rex for more bonus points. There are also a ton of video game-specific elements here, like putting the ball near the Stegosaurus tail to fling it at waiting raptors or opening up a smaller table where you need to use a Triceratops to block incoming charging raptors. Some of these elements could use better instructions, but it doesn't take long before you figure out what to do. With a reduced frequency of hitting the bad return lanes, this will be the table where casual fans spend their time.

There's one disappointing aspect that all three tables share, and that's the music. In particular, the game lacks the iconic score from any of the movies. You have musical tracks that convey panic in a dinosaur chase and the grandeur of discovering the island for the first time; the tunes work well enough if you're already familiar with the films. Even the most casual of fans immediately recognize the iconic theme song of the first film, and subsequent films have incorporated pieces of that into their own score because it's so well known. It's a real shame that the theme song is absent from the game when voice clips from the movies are already here.

As expected, the Jurassic World Pinball pack continues the studio's impressive quality streak. The table layouts are well thought out to please both casual and veteran fans of pinball, while the gimmicks inherent to video game pinball are done well. If you're a fan of pinball, add this to your collection.

Score: 8.0/10

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