Clash of the Heroes: Pinball FX2 – Marvel: Civil War Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360
For those who own and adore Pinball FX 2 created by Zen Studios, the Marvel: Civil War table has arrived that is sure to catch the attention of many Xbox Live onlookers. 800 Microsoft Points is standing between you and watching your favourite heroes in a mud-slinging match to the political death. Do you have what it takes to stand up for your beliefs and fight for the rights of your fellow heroes? Or will you throw yourself at the mercy of the citizens, trusting they will protect you and your friends?
We begin with a zoom-in on a television set, and a comic-cartoon animation of a Newscaster telling us about the evacuation of Stamford School due to a gigantic battle between a group of heroes and a group of villains. She continues to report that the public is calling for superhero registration, especially after such a devastating battle that left the Stamford School in ruins. Once the broadcast is complete, we pan out to a pinball table. You see Iron Man (a figure glued to the left-hand side of the table) attempting to get his fellow heroes to sign up for the Superhuman Registration Act. Captain America (glued to the right hand side of the table) is strictly opposed to the idea, and this conversation causes a rift within the superhero community, where they are all forced to choose sides.
For those who are not comic book fans, there is a running theme throughout Avengers and other notable comics about the idea that there is a public outcry for people with superpowers to register with their true identities in a public database. This legislation has appeared in many comics as the Mutant Registration Act (MRA) or Superhuman Registration Act (SRA/SHRA). The main debate behind the SRA is that it shows trust in the people to come forward, but on the flipside of the argument the idea is that it gives villains an advantage to hurt the heroes and their loved ones. Interestingly enough, Marvel: Civil War closely follows the same outcomes of the Civil War comic set (released in 2006-2007), written by Mark Millar as a crossover story arc in the Avengers series.
While Iron Man and Captain America are debating, you (the player) have to choose which side you will take by selecting either Iron Man or Captain America, and pressing the A button on your controller. This will determine who you are trying to earn points for in the game, to help win the war against the other side. As you play, the better the score you get, the more heroes join your cause. Fail and those who are on your side will abandon you… or even die. You’ll hear this debate going on while you are playing the table, and it gets pretty heated when Iron Man and Captain America begin yelling at each other for the outcome of other heroes. An example of this is when Peter Parker joins Iron man and registers himself. Captain America begins shouting that Spiderman is just a kid, and thanks to Iron Man he’s putting everyone Peter Parker loves (such as Mary Jane and Aunt May) in danger. Iron Man rebuts that Spiderman is old enough to fight the good fight, which means he’s old enough to make his own decisions and that Peter – unlike Captain America – has faith in the good citizens of Earth.
Eventually the table’s heroes go from spewing venomous words at each other to physically fighting, which in my opinion is the best and most unique part of the table. It’s only a basic fight scene, but it’s really cool to see two heroes kicking each other about on top of a pinball machine. To help you gain more popularity (and win the game), there will be times when specific lanes are highlighted. Sometimes this will trigger events like hitting certain points to ‘capture and disable’ your enemies (the screen will tell you defeat a specific number of enemies highlighted on the board), or getting yourself into the top center nook to hack the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate (S.H.I.E.L.D.) database and give your team the advantage.
At the beginning of the game, you are given an instant bonus round before the conflict begins, involving two balls on the table. The result of this round is added to your top scores, and your game score overall. You can choose to skip this option if you’d previously obtained a high score in the bonus round, as it carries over and is added to every game you start. If you lose one of these balls in play, the table shuts down and begins the main game. From there you have your standard three balls you can sink, with a Ball Save option just below the flippers in the center of the table. As you play, the higher your score and multiplier, the more you have added to your Popularity Bonus displayed on the left-hand side of the table. This score determines if your side of the pro/anti-registration wins or not. The controls themselves are very common for a pinball game, but luckily you can change them via the Options Menu to suit your needs. During pinball games, I have a habit of raising both flippers at the same time – which, with the default controls, triggers a Table Nudge; it’s beyond frustrating when you are in the heart of the battle and you Tilt the machine, ending your game.
Though it is understandable that the game’s focal point is the debate between Iron Man and Captain America, the music is lacklustre. It is too quiet and frankly does not match the urgent tone of the content. The music has a casual undertone of something you would hear when searching an open field in an FPS, without any enemies around. Visually, the part of the table that falls flat is that the entire premise is centered around the two characters debating back and forth – and you see them moving around like action figures, but there are no further animations, and nothing to bring you back to the table. With the intensity of the voice acting, you would think there would be some further expressions on their faces, or explosions, or even changes to the table itself. Both voice actors are so passionately delivering their lines, making you really believe in their cause, that it’s a shame there isn’t more visually or audibly to accompany them.
Overall, it is a fun game to play through, but it really seems like you are watching two people run for office instead of two superheroes fighting in a heroic civil war, using a pinball machine as a podium. The lack of content for the price is a little disappointing and would have been better served if there was at least one more table with the same theme, but if you are a huge fan of comics it will still be a must have for your collection as the idea itself is wonderful.
Marvel: Civil War receives a 4.5/5.0
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