Game Review: Zen Pinball 2 – Venom (PS Vita)

Zen Pinball 2 Venom Pinball PS Vita

When you think of Marvel Comics, the chances are that the first character that springs to mind is Spider-Man. While the web-slinger wasn’t the first hero to come from the studio, he’s certainly one of the most iconic to come from the creative genius that is Stan Lee and it’s no surprise that he’s still as popular today that he’s always been, over 50 years since he first hit newstands. Super heroes wouldn’t be what they are if it weren’t for their arch-enemies though and Spider-Man is no exception.

Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Rhino, Kraven… all worthy adversaries but none have been able to captivate in the same way as Venom, the devastating alien symbiote first seen in the 1980s and now Zen Studios have turned their attention to this classic villain for their latest table for Zen Pinball 2…

While the title of this table implies that the game is centred on Spidey’s leading foe Venom, it actually features two of Spider-Man’s deadliest of enemies – Venom and Carnage. As you play throughout all the table’s game modes you have to face up against both of these deadly adversaries who are hell-bent on destroying our web-slinging hero. Located firmly in Spidey’s home base of New York. the table features a range of different elements from the comic including the New York subway and a working bell tower – striking this triggers a timer where you can rack up bonus points shooting the ball at selected targets on the table. Various forms of Venom make an appearance throughout the game including She-Venom and the Scorpion/Venom hybrid.

As you progress through the table’s modes, you build up to unleashing Venom and Spider-Man’s foe, Carnage. Defeating him earns greater bonus points but this time an extra twist is thrown into the game because beating Carnage is a must if you want to get the best possible scores in the game. Fail to defeat him and all the end-of-ball bonuses are frozen out and depending on how well you play, you could potentially miss out on a massive score boost. It’s a new mechanic added to a Zen table and adds a whole new level of depth to the game.

There’s no single defining factor that makes Venom stand out above all of the tables that Zen Studios has released so far because every aspect of it has been refined to perfection. Sound is absolutely superb with a driving dance soundtrack playing throughout that is reminiscent of The Prodigy. The rest of the sound is just as stunning with the usual high standards for the sound effects coupled with the excellent voice acting from the wise-cracking web-slinger himself to the chilling cries from Venom and Carnage.

The graphics continue the same high standards. The playfield visuals are bold, crisp and superbly illustrated while the animated characters could have been lifted straight out of a AAA action game and are certainly far more than you would expect for a pinball title. Once again, Zen have outdone themselves with this one but aesthetics aside it’s the playability that matters and Venom really shines in that department. Naturally, it’s a table that’s more likely to appeal to a fan of Superhero comics and movies more than anyone else, but being a Spider-Man related title that’s pretty much a formality anyway but this is just an incredibly addictive table. There’s so much to do here and it makes such an excellent use of the license that you’re drawn into it almost immediately and you’ll soon find that you’ve spent hours playing this table before you know it.

As you’d expect, the table is Cross Buy across all three PlayStation formats as long as it’s purchased for the PS Vita or PS3 and as it is part of the wider Zen Pinball 2 set works perfectly on the PlayStation TV. It doesn’t quite look as good as the PS3 version on the bigger screen but still looks superb and it’s a great way to play the game. Cross Play still isn’t supported when it comes to the online multiplayer mode but one thing that the PSTV does bring to the regular “round table” multiplayer mode is ease of use… it’s certainly much easier and far more comfortable to pass a controller around that it is the Vita itself although that applies to Zen Pinball 2 as a whole.

This is another cracking table from Zen Studios and and while most of their tables lately do revolve around licences, especially those of Marvel characters, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing when they are this good. Understandably, if comics generally leave you feeling rather cold and disintersted then you’re likely to struggle to get into the characterisation of Venom, but underneath it’s a deep involving table with plenty on offer throughout and enough diversity to keep even the most demanding of pinball fanatics satisfied. Another classic and a must-have table that no self-respecting pinball fan should be without.

Simon Plumbe

At A Glance

  • Title: Zen Pinball 2 – Venom
  • Publisher: Zen Studios
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: Yes (PS3 / PS4)
  • Cross Save: Yes (high score data only)
  • Online Multiplayer: Yes
  • Local Multiplayer: Yes
  • PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes
  • Memory Card Space Needed: Mb

Vita Player Rating - 10

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About Simon Plumbe 891 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian.Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe

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