In a break from their Marvel and Star Wars licenses, Zen Studios have turned their attention to another legendary series for their latest addition to the growing collection of tables for Zen Pinball 2. This time, they’ve looked to a series of classic sci-fi movies that have their origins dating back to 1979 with a horror sci-fi flick that starred Sigourney Weaver that has since spawned several sequels and crossovers with a saga first introduced in a 1987 blockbuster with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s time to tackle Zen Studios latest pack when Aliens and the Predator collide in Aliens vs Pinball…
This is a three-table pack based primarily on the Aliens franchise as the title suggests. While sharing the common Alien theme throughout, each of the three tables in the set is very distinct from each other both in terms of gameplay and aesthetics making each one a unique gameplay experience and each could have stood on their own as a separate release.
First up is Aliens Pinball, based on the 1986 James Cameron action film. The game follows Sigourney Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley as she and the unwitting Marines are faced with the unenviable task of trying to survive against a seemingly never-ending wave of aliens on what they thought was a routine mission to the outpost on LV-426… As I said in our Top 10 Zen Pinball 2 Tables Guide, this is one of my favourite tables produced by the studio and it is just rich with atmosphere and emotion throughout. As well as capturing the look of the film superbly, the table is littered with audio clips from the movie, making this one of only a handful of tables so far from the Zen Studios to feature original voice cast recordings. This really makes a massive difference to the game and it draws you in and really makes you feel a part of the movie as the story unfolds.
Yes, the story. Upon starting each game you’re presented with two choices – you can either play each of the missions on the table based on how you play the game, or in the order in which they are presented in the film. While this is only a small detail, it really does make for a fantastic design choice from the developers and adds to the game immensely. Playing through the film in this way makes the game so much more enjoyable and adds even more to what is already a compelling table, especially the bonus stages that drive the story forward.
Moving on is Alien: Isolation, based on the 2014 survival horror game developed by The Creative Assembly. This time, the action shifts focus onto Amanda Ripley as she is being hunted by an alien on Sevastopol Space Station. It’s not just the Alien she has to deal with though. While creating weapons to defend yourself and hacking the station’s computers you’ll have to fend off security guards and androids patrolling the station.
Having not played the original game this was based on, this didn’t quite connect with me. It was still an enjoyable table, but it didn’t feel as if it were part of the Aliens universe in any way. Perhaps this is a table that would be more appreciated by fans of the source material rather than newcomers to it I don’t know but for me it just felt like an average Zen Pinball table. That in itself isn’t a bad thing as even their average tables are still great, but this could have been much more.
Finally is Alien Vs Predator. Surprisingly, this isn’t based on the movie but instead is an original table combining both franchises. This time, you’re in the role of the Predator itself wanting to make a mark by hunting down one of the Aliens for one of your first kills. There are plenty of objectives throughout building up the tension as the hunt progresses and the Predator shows off his skills and abilities and visually this is one of the best tables of the set, especially when the Predator’s heat vision mode is activated.
As a total package, this is another must-have addition to Zen Pinball 2 and I really can’t fault it. While Alien: Isolation is the weak link in the set the other two more than compensate for this. As I have said in previous reviews, the pack is Cross Buy with both the PS3 and PS4 (with high scrores being shared across platforms) and comparisions are obviously going to be made with the other versions. While I have only played the PS3 version, the Vita version holds up remarkably well. Apart from a slight reduction in definition with the graphics, it plays and sounds exactly the same as its big brother. The only thing I would probably say is that the PS Vita probably offers a better experience and is more suited for play on the move. When running on the PlayStation TV, the differences between the two platforms are even less noticeable with the exception of the front menu.
The reality is that put Zen Pinball 2 and any license together and it seems that you’re almost certain to be guaranteed a quality set of pinball tables. Somehow they have managed to discover a winning formula for producing consistently high quality games time after time. I’m just thankful that they’re continuing to release all of these for the Vita, especially while they’re as good as this pack. Go hunt this one down right now – you won’t be disappointed!
At A Glance
- Title: Zen Pinball 2 – Aliens vs Pinball
- Publisher: Zen Studios
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: Yes (PS3 / PS4 – must buy PS Vita or PS3 version to obtain PS4 version)
- Cross Play: No
- Cross Save: Yes (high scores only)
- Local Multiplayer: Yes (round table format)
- Online Multiplayer: Yes
- PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes