Pinball is one of the oldest arcade style games but these days every pinball game seems to be the same. I am an avid pinball player and have been disappointed in the current slew of pinball games put out for the PC. I remember spending my entire allowance playing the tables at the local arcade and I still drop in a few dollars every week or so. These days there seems to be some goal both real life table makers and the virtual table makers are trying to attain: a mix between virtual and reality. Modern pinball tables are now so multimedia oriented, that you need an instruction manual to play them as the little blurb down in the lower left just doesn't cut it anymore. In comparison, the computer adaptations of these games are moving towards expanding the realism.
Pinball has always had an easy concept regardless of the little add-ons that seem to be popping up on every new table: hit the ball against the targets/bumpers and ride the ramps in order to get the highest score. Of course eye candy is always a plus when playing a pinball game as watching a ball bounce around a wood/plastic table is just not appealing to the senses.
In the recent outbreak of pinball games released for the PC, no game has ever been worthy of my time, except the classic Epic Pinball. Game developers must be begging for ideas for tables, because Soccer pinball and Star Trek pinball were really odd ideas for standalone games. Microsoft Pinball Arcade encompasses the many eras of pinball tables starting from 1931 and ending with a table from 1992.
The interface uses the standard top down view of the table which is slightly angled so you can see the entire table without having to motion sickness due to the screen moving in front of your eyes. Then again, there are enough flashing lights to give even a calm person an epileptic seizure. The table and ball graphics use chrome and lighting effects well and I found them adequate even though I am very picky in such areas.
The sound effects in general were of average quality but after hearing the music from the Haunted house table over and over again, I was feeling a little Ill. There are actually different sounds for each different angle that you can hit a target or ride up a ramp. The sound of the nudging in the game sounds nothing like what such actions sound like in real life.
For once I found a game that does not have a steep learning curve. Simply smash the flipper keys down and occasionally nudge the table to get the ball to move a little in your favor (Careful of the TILT). There are a few hard targets to hit or odd angles to bounce from but none the less the engine seems good in its calculations. It seemed to me however that Haunted House was the only difficult table.
If your a pinball freak like I used to be, then this game is fun, however there is nothing new to make you want to jump genres. Despite what one may thing even the 1931 game engrossed me and I found the game to be fairly addictive.
What fun is pinball without the existence of an opponent. Of course you can play by yourself but where is the fun in that. I guess if you had multiple personalities. Maybe you could invent friends and play under different names. No Network play but then again I didn't expect it to have any. It would be boring to sit on your computer and wait for however long it takes for your friend to finish his ball.
All the tables are old tables which existed in real life and even thought the eye candy is good and so are the sounds, nothing beats Extreme Pinball or Illusion Pinball, or even the classic Epic Pinball. If you're a pinball fan you may like this just so you can actually get some decent pinball action on your PC as opposed to some of the recent releases. If you want to switch over to pinball games, please check the classics out first, this one is only for die hard fans.
Fun Factor: 16/20
Overall Impression: 6/10