With Marvel set to release what could be the highest grossing movie of all-time, it's no surprise that we'll see an endless amount of product tie-ins. However Zen Studios has been creating high-quality Marvel pinball tables on their platform for years. In fact, this isn't even the first Avengers table for Pinball FX2: I reviewed the original Avengers back in 2012, and gave it a 9 out of 10. How does Age of Ultron match up?
The first thing you'll notice is that Zen Studios is releasing Age of Ultron as a standalone table for $2.99, whereas the original Avengers table is only available within a 4-pack of tables and costs $10. I've always believed that it's better to release tables individually in order to give customers a choice, so this was nice to see.
When you first start up the game, you're allowed to set up the difficulty level between easy, medium, or hard. This is new feature, and according to Zen Studios, impacts both the length of time you have to complete missions, as well as the pitch of the table. While you've always been able to modify the settings in the operator's menu, doing so prevented your high score from being displayed. This new feature allows players of all skills to not only play the game, but also to record their high score on the leaderboard. Playing on the hard setting is definitely difficult because the extra pitch of the table makes the ball move much faster than normal, but it also provides larger bonuses. Playing on easy is a great way to get to know the table without the constraints of timers in the missions.
After selecting the difficulty, you have to decide whether to play the prelude, titled "Starks' Mistake." This is a multiball mode where you apparently start to build Ultron, although it's not entirely clear and since I don't know the story, nor have I read spoilers from the movie, I could be mistaken. The mode can be skipped, but I don't know why anyone would turn down the chance for what really equates to an extra ball. You can score a lot of points in this mode, as well as hit the "extra ball" target.
As expected from a Zen Studios game, the art on the table is very well done. Ultron is prominently displayed at the bottom of the table, with Hulk behind him. Smaller images of Black Widow, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Hawkeye take up the rest of the lower level of the table. The playfield feels much more compact than the original Avengers table, and this is probably due to the fact that the upper portion of the table seems to get little use. You can occasionally shoot the ball up towards the top and hit the bumpers shaped as cars, but I haven't been able to do that consistently.
There are missions for each of the Avengers, and they're activated by shooting the ramps or, in the case of Thor, by dropping the ball into the bucket in the middle of the table four times. The Thor mission is the one I started the most, by far, and requires players to shoot specific flashing ramps in order to destroy robots. It's harder than it sounds, and in roughly twenty games, I have yet to successfully complete any of the missions.
Like the previous Avengers table, the ball physically changes depending on which character you're playing as. The Captain America ball, for example, is red, white, and blue. Unlike the previous table though, you don't get to select and by default you play with a basic steel ball. It only changes once you're playing each character's mission. From that respect, it lacks some of the uniqueness of the original. In addition, while the balls have the hues of the related characters, they didn't seem as pronounced as the original.
There is a third flipper located at the top-right of the table and is used to shoot the ball across a bridge for a bonus (or the aforementioned extra ball). Timing the shot is extremely difficult because it's hard to know when the ball will be going down that tube.
Most of the voiceovers are great. Black Widow makes comments to the team when things go wrong, Tony Stark has a few quippy lines during the prelude, and Captain America sounds great when you're trying to rescue people from the city. My only complaint is around the voice for Thor: He sounds like he should be serving tea and scones, rather than being the God of Thunder. I don't understand why they changed the voice actor from the previous Thor and Avengers table, and this is compounded by the fact that the Thor mission is the most frequently activated one.
Overall, this table is a lot of fun but it's clear that it's also very difficult, even on the easy setting. After playing a few dozen games, my high score is still only 21M. If you're looking for an easy table that you'll only play every now and then, Age of Ultron is not the one for you. If you want a table that will bring you in, frustrate you, but still drag you in for one more game, then go out and buy Avengers: Age of Ultron: You won't be disappointed.
The table is available for all major consoles, as well as iOS, Android, Mac, and PC. Support for the Wii U is coming soon.
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