It almost seemed like an April Fool’s Day joke: a review hit our desk for the latest Indiana Jones Pinball FX table, just few days after the latest Indiana Jones pinball table dropped. It didn’t take long for us to realize it was the latest jump forward in quality from the engine used for previous games to the latest Unreal Engine. The question is does this jump in quality warrant moving on from your current collection of tables? Let’s take a look!
Really most gamers only need to hear “Unreal Engine” to know that there is something special being made. Unreal is a pedigree expected by the name alone. If it doesn’t have an impressive quality of graphics and audio as well as smooth playstyle then it isn’t living up to its name. In this case the game has a double expectation since it is built on the Unreal Engine but with the games and physics base from Pinball FX.
Luckily, Zen Studios knew what was expected of them and started out the new build with a very anticipated table with lots of bells and whistles in Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure. Before you even get into the table you get to see your arcade room where you can put trophies on shelves, posters on walls and rugs on the floor. The graphics are a bit cartoonish which works well since most tables also have bright, cartoonish graphics so it transitions into them nicely. When a table is chosen from the menu the “camera” flies in and does a tour of the board briefly before settling on a camera that looks at the whole table with the room to each side of it.
The Unreal Engine is put to good effect not just in the introduction to the tables, but in the performance of the machine itself. Whether you use the keyboard to play (shift buttons are the flippers) or if you use a controller (triggers RT and LT) the response time from hitting the flippers and their response as well as the physics of the silver ball all feel like a real table. Between our most recent reviews of Indiana Jones tables I managed to get some time with the real life machine and I can say that it actually plays better virtually than real life since there is no concern for the wear and tear of the real machines take over time or replacing official plunger control. It’s Indy’s gun on the official table, an 8 ball was used at the pinball museum I played at.
Besides the wear and tear on real life tables there are extra graphics and animations that can only exist on a virtual table. Indiana uses his whip to flick across the table to different treasures while a really big German tank takes aim while driving around and there are so many other touches that we don’t want to spoil here. The graphics are just gorgeous already so that when you add simultaneous animated events tied in the game is elevated to the next level. You can play the game without the virtual additions if you want to make it as close to the real thing as possible. You can also play it single player, hot potato, online and even tournament play giving you pretty much every option you might want.
As for the overall comments on the table it is a medium to fast speed, long table with lots of bells and whistles and great virtual presence. The gameplay is very addictive.
There’s a bit of concern that has been brought up in the silver ball community about backwards compatibility so you can play all the tables you collected on PFX3 on the Unreal Pinball FX, and it really doesn’t sound like that is going to happen. It does make sense to me since we are talking about the next generation for pinball games in UPFX, any game played on it is being rebuilt on Unreal Engine. At that point it is like another game, maybe even considering it as a GOTY or Remastering where you wouldn’t have a problem buying the new addition of the game and each table plays like a mini-game that has been remastered or rebuilt. And if you don’t get the Unreal version of your table you still have it on PFX3 then when you can afford it pick it up on UPFX.
On the subject of affording some of the newer games which aren’t on sale they might be considered a bit expensive whereas if you pick them up on sale they aren’t too bad. I had 220 tickets to spend ($19.99) and I got the Jaws table for 30 tickets leaving me plenty left to spend. Some tables purchased on Steam might find you paying $14.99 for example for the Indy table though you might find this competitively priced with the Pinball FX3 as well as the quality of experience of an Unreal Engine table. Also right now many of the tables are on sale for the UPFX to help offset the cost of building your new library.
The Unreal Engine was a terrific choice for the developers to build from and they put it to great use. Pinball FX: Indiana Jones The Pinball Adventure is a great game that lives up to the hype with crisp video quality and perfect physics. It’s got nice replayability with community events such as tournaments and free play days. Now I need to go play some more Jaws. We need a bigger boat!