Pinball FX3 – Williams Pinball Vol. 1 review (PS4)

Pinball FX3 creators Zen Studios has just launched Volume 1 of their recreations of classic pinball tables by Williams. Out for every console that has the FX3 platform, we checked out this three-pack on a Playstation 4.

Usually when we check out new tables by Zen, they’re based on high profile movie licenses and provide the kind of table design and special effects you can only really achieve in a digital version of pinball. Animated characters that move across the table, special events and even stuff that happens outside of the actual table (especially true in their VR tables). The Williams Volume 1 set is a little different, as they’re tables that are based on their real life counterparts.

The three tables, The Getaway, Junk Yard and Medieval Madness, aren’t even new to the digital pinball realm. The rights to digitalize the Williams tables were previously held by developer FarSight Studios, who included them in their Pinball Arcade platform. I was surprised when their licensing deal ended, since I’ve always considered Pinball Arcade to be the platform with the biggest emphasis on real life tables. Still, as I mostly play FX myself, I was happy to see Zen announce their inclusion.

williams pinball fx3a

Thanks to the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, I’ve actually seen all three tables in this pack in real life – though I didn’t get to play them all. But what was immediately clear when launching these in FX3 was that these aren’t digital recreations, but rather digital reimaginings. Characters that are plastic figures in the real pinball machine are fully animated in 3D here, so what you’re getting will probably be seen as something like George Lucas touching up his classic Star Wars movies with new special effects – at least by pinball purists.

To me, these are just additions that add a bit of “Zen flavor” to the tables, bringing them more in line with what FX3 players are used to in their Star Wars and Marvel tables. The core gameplay remains untouched, and although these aren’t the biggest licenses in the Williams lineup (which includes Star Trek, Terminator and Indiana Jones) they are certainly among the best and most acclaimed.

It’s not hard to see why. All three tables feature excellent table design, though Medieval Madness stands out as an especially gorgeous table. Not only does the table itself have a very clean layout, it’s also beautifully lit and Zen’s version of the table gets this across quite well. The Getaway has a neat feature that has you operating a gear shifter in addition to working traditional pinball controls, and while it’s not exactly the same with a gamepad/thumbstick this is still a nice and original touch.

williams pinball fx3b

Junk Yard has a similarly fun feature in that there’s a wrecking ball that you interact with by hitting it, and it’s a table that has a TON of little playful touches in pretty much every corner of the playing area. Many of them are interactive and/or relate to one another, making the real table a bit of a Zen table before Zen was even a studio – and it’s probably the most faithful recreation of the three.

Of course, in addition to these three tables, the FX3 platform also guarantees that you get all the extra playing modes that Zen provides in all of their tables. It might be a bitter pill to swallow if you already own these on Pinball Arcade, but for anyone else this pack is a definite steal. Unless you’re only playing FX3 for the movie-licensed stuff, you need to pick this up.

Score: 8.8/10

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