Pinball FX3 – Williams Pinball Vol. 3 review (PS4)

Following up on the excellent first two volumes, Zen Studios has released another trio of pinball tables based on real-life tables by famous pinball developer Williams. Here’s what’s new in the third installment, now available for every platform out there that has Pinball FX3. We checked out the PS4 version.

Volume 3 comes with Theatre of Magic (1995), Safe Cracker (1996) and The Champions Pub (1998), making this the most “modern” of the Williams packs so far. Zen is still sticking with original table designs though, so I’m still hoping for Star Trek, Addams Family and Terminator 2 tables. Secretly hoping for Indiana Jones as well, but that one never even made it into Pinball Arcade and I’m guessing that license issues are preventing some of the aforementioned tables from making it into FX3 any time soon as well. But… feel free to pleasantly surprise me.

williams pinball volume 3a

All three tables, as is customary in Zen productions, come in two distinct flavors – faithful reproductions of the original tables and “Zen-ified” versions that come with 3D animations and interactive elements that aren’t physically possible but create a fun audiovisual experience.

The star of Volume 3 is without a doubt the Theatre of Magic table, widely regarded as one of the best and more popular original table designs ever made. It frequently tops “top tables” lists, and it’s not hard to see why. Essentially the pinball equivalent of a magic show performance, Theatre of Magic requires you to “perform” a series of tricks in order to reach the table’s big finale – and there are plenty of visual and mechanical props on the table to help (or hinder you). Most striking among these is a big chest, which rotates as play goes on.

williams pinball volume 3b

The experience translates well to a digital version, which isn’t entirely true for Safecracker – even though its novel core concept does. A time-limited table (you don’t need to stress about losing balls), you need to be exact in your aim if you are to break open the safe. It’s a fun and different concept, but sadly (and obviously) lacks the original table’s ability to reward you with physical tokens when you’re successful.

The Champion Pub is a bit of an acquired taste, as it thematically resembles a British pub brawl (or Fight Club, before there was fight club). It’s also a little like Punch-Out with its cartoon-like approach to brawling though, so it rounds out this new trio of tables perfectly. All three are unique in one way or another – and great showcases of what was mechanically possible in pinball tables during the mid nineties. There’s a lot of creativity on display here, and that alone makes these a great match for Zen, a studio that enjoys adding its own distinct visual flair to their productions. With its unique ways of manipulating ball movement, Theatre or Magic is pure magic on its own, and it’s a must-own table for FX3 owners. The fact that you’re getting two excellent tables with it is all the more reason to pick it up.

Score: 8.1/10

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