Hands-On With Pinball FX 3's Universal Classics Pack

by Jeff Marchiafava on Aug 08, 2017 at 08:05 AM

Zen Studios has tapped three classic film franchises for the first table pack of its upcoming release of Pinball FX 3, and we've got exclusive hands-on impressions.

Zen Studios has landed some massive franchises for its Pinball FX 2 and Zen Pinball 2 table packs, offering fun takes on Disney's Marvel and Star Wars universes, along with myriad other film, television, and video game series. For the launch of its upcoming Pinball FX 3, however, the developer is going old-school. The Universal Classics pack features three tables based on the studio's biggest film franchises: Jaws, E.T., and Back To The Future. Read on for our exclusive hands-on impressions of all three tables.

Pinball FX 3 offers a number of interesting new modes and social features, which you can read about in the next issue of Game Informer. The biggest takeaway for longtime Zen fans, however, is that the vast majority of tables you've already purchased will carry over into Pinball FX 3 for free.

If you're new to Pinball FX, or just looking for a few new tables to add to your library, the Universal Classics pack will be available for purchase when Pinball FX 3 launches in late summer/early fall. We recently got a chance to try the new tables, and you can read our impressions below.

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Zen's take on the classic Spielberg thriller features a short and speedy table and gives equal attention to the titular man eater and Quint, the grizzled sailor tasked with taking Jaws down (curiously enough, police chief Martin Brody is nowhere to be seen on the table). Players can activate missions for either character, helping to hunt down the killer shark or terrorize swimmers. Simultaneously activating missions for both causes a showdown between the two. Jaws features some unique modes, such as activating the buoy bumpers, which causes the entire table to rock back and forth, affecting the trajectory of your ball.

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Back To The Future
You may not be able to use Doc Brown's time-traveling DeLorean to regain a lost ball, but you will travel to Back To The Future's four distinct eras: 1885, 1955, 1985, and 2015 (which didn't turn out to be nearly as cool as the movie predicted, but whatever). Players set their desired decade before activating the plunger, then complete movie-specific missions, such as stealing back the spacetime continuum-shredding sports almanac. Back To The Future also features some massive multiball opportunities, allowing you to cover the table in scorching flame trails. Heavy!

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The final table of the Universal Classics pack tasks you with helping out everyone's favorite illegal alien. E.T. places a greater emphasis on the table's upper flippers, which set up extended ramp combos that flow together smoothly. Mission modes include evading the cops on a cornfield mini-table, activating E.T.'s ship, and picking up parts to – what else? – phone home!

While all three tables suffer a bit from the lack of authentic music and dialogue clips from the movies (the soundalike voice actors are hit or miss), they are packed with the kind of fan service players have come to expect from Zen. The main missions also do a good job of conveying each movie's major plot points, and even though they mostly boil down to "shoot the flashing ramps," they are entertaining nonetheless. The Universal Classics pack may not be the strongest tie-in Zen has done, but the table designs and flow of play are up to the developer's high standards of quality and are a solid way to kick off the release of its newest platform.

Pinball FX 3 will launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in late summer/early fall. You'll be able to download the client for free (along with the Sorcerer's Lair table), and any previous purchases will carry over as well (minus a few tables due to licensing issues). Universal Classics and other table packs will be sold separately as DLC.