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Thread: The Pinball Arcade first impressions

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    Member MAXIBODYALIVE's Avatar
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    Default The Pinball Arcade first impressions

    I apologize with Zen Studios to post something about a competing company but i think that this is the best forum about a virtual pinball game.
    Today Farsight Studios released the xbox version of Pinball Arcade on xbla. (800mps)
    I dont want to talk about the tables themselves but only about pros and cons of pinball arcade (pa) vs Pbfx2

    Game lobby PA 6/10 Pbfx2 8.5/10
    PA has a very poor customization of gamepad controls, no options about music and effects audio levels, no operators menu, no quick restart button, no game saves and overall poor design of game menus. PA instead have -VERY GOOD- detailed instructions for each table!


    Graphics PA 7/10 Pbfx2 9/10 (marvell pack 8/10)

    Audio PA 5/10 (downsampled original music and voices) Pbfx2 9.5/10

    Physics PA 9/10 Pbfx2 8/10

    (I thought pbfx2 was the best until i tried PA. PA has ery good feeling when the ball is hit by flippers! Very rare physics ball glitches, I hope they will be fixed.)

    Game controls PA 8/10 Pbfx2 8/10

    PA has unpredictable table nudge, this is more realistic than pbfx2 where you know exactly what the ball will do when you nudge the table.


    Multiplayer PA none. Pbfx2 9/10

    This is a very bad point in pinball arcade, there is no change for multiplayer (neither online or local) challenges. Pbfx2 instead has an advanced multiplayer system.


    Real Pinball simulation PA 8/10 Pbfx2 6/10

    This is the real difference between them. PA wants to be a real pinball simulation and Pbfx2 a video pinball. In PA you will find nothing more than a simulation of real pinball mechanics .

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    Senior Member shogun00's Avatar
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    Come join the rest of us in the General Discussions board. We already have a few threads on The Pinball Arcade there.

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    Senior Member E113's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shogun00 View Post
    Come join the rest of us in the General Discussions board. We already have a few threads on The Pinball Arcade there.
    ^ What he said. ^ There already is an existing thread for The Pinball Arcade. It was in the Pinball FX2 forum. But as its not even a Zen game (let alone FX2), Solitude moved it to General Discussions.
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    Member MAXIBODYALIVE's Avatar
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    Sorry guys. I m curious of your impressions by the way.

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    Thumbs down

    TPA is a cheaply put together piece of crap. Epic fail on every level. So disappointed.
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by MAXIBODYALIVE View Post
    Sorry guys. I m curious of your impressions by the way.
    I'm on your side except maybe for the audio, the bad samples give the tables an authentic feeling.

    I'm happy with my purchase and hope they make many new tables soon !

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    Quote Originally Posted by lasvegaspinballhalloffame View Post
    TPA is a cheaply put together piece of crap. Epic fail on every level. So disappointed.
    I'm disappointed too, but it doesn't fail on every level. It does have a lot of redeeming features. It just needs a lot of work. (Work that I'm not convinced will ever happen, given PHOF's history and the nature of XBLA updates.)

    BTW, are you the Jimmy on Facebook that was asking for review codes?

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    Member Ozzpot's Avatar
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    In my opinion, whether you prefer TPA to PFX2 or not will depend on whether you have fond memories (or any memories for that matter) of the featured tables. I suspect were we to hold a poll on this, the results would show a positive correlation with the age of the voter. I imagine those over 40 or so would rate TPA far higher than I do. Those under 30 would almost exclusively vote PFX2 as the better game.

    Having played TPA (admittedly only the trial), I am confident in saying that objectively, it is inferior to PFX2 in a number of areas:

    Presentation
    Firstly, the menus, (and this is an important first impression for any game) are reminiscent of early XBLA games, such as Mad Tracks or Switchball, or cheap PC games (Popcap or Gameloft titles for example) from the mid noughties. It's like something designed very much for small and/or Standard Definition TVs. To say it's ugly would be unfair, but on a large, 1080P LED TV, in the year 2012, it looks clunky and oddly anachronistic as if it were an afterthought or a totally neglected element. As a professional interface designer and consultant, this jumped out at me immediately.

    Graphics
    The visuals aren't as bright, vivid, smooth or polished as PFX2, not even close. I know Zen's own creations are always going to have a complexity that most real tables don't have, with flashy effects that are not possible in the real world, but that's not what I'm talking about. The TPA tables may be accurately reproduced, but lovingly polished to a shine, or smoothly and beautifully rendered they ain't.

    Sound
    The sound effects suffer a similar fate. I know authenticity is the aim here, so the crappy quality (and limited number of) samples are probably intended, but without the rich quality of PFX's samples and music, it all feels a rather soulless. Again, if it's authenticity you want, I guess it's not a problem - play your favourite 80's music over it (I have an awesome playlist I made for Gameroom that would be perfect!) and all would seem right with the world. So I'll forgive that one.

    Physics
    This is a tricky one for me. I don't happen to live anywhere that close to a real pinball table. Most arcades here in the UK are near the sea, at least 50 miles from me. Sure I could get a train into central London and visit the Trocadero, but it's an awkward and prohibitively expensive trip that I would rather avoid. My memories of real tables are from the late eighties and early nineties, when I would visit arcades with my friends. Most of those places are gone, and the memories faded. The physics in PFX2 to me now, seem perfectly real. The physics in TPA not so. The ball feels too light, the collision detection too sensitive, the table too "rattly". Can't really explain better than that. I'm sure I'm wrong, and I bow to the greater experience of those with access to real tables, but personally, I prefer PFX2's more solid feel in this regard.

    Controls
    I was disappointed to with the controls in TPA. There is for example, no way that I could find of having a detailed look around the table (PFX2's hold-X ability), and I found the way it zooms right out to launch another ball into play, a little jarring. As nice as it is to have an authentic plunger action, I'd rather it remained in the normal view while it did this.


    To return to my original point; with these shortcomings, I believe it is only the powerful effect of nostalgia that would lead someone to prefer TPA over PFX2. "Black Hole" happens to be in my Top 5 real world tables, so to play that again gave me a mildly warm feeling as I experienced vague flashbacks of my youth. The reverse mini table made me smile and gasp in wonder all at once just as it did all those years ago. The others, I'm not so familiar with, so, as good as they are, they don't capture my imagination so much, and the lack of real quality or richness in the audiovisuals does not help.

    Were this game to get, say, Twilight Zone, The Addams Family, or Terminator 2 (my Top 3), I could very much be tempted to invest. Throw a pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum into the mix and the experience would be complete. But purely an experience of nostalgia it would be. As nostalgia is surely the most subjective of criteria upon which to judge such things, the objective verdict can only be that PFX2 wins hands down as a demonstration of both pinball table design and video game design. Throw some fond memories into the mix and perhaps the opposite is true.
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    I disagree that real pinball emulation is nostalgia exclusive; I'm 25 years old and love Black Hole (which I never played and was released before I existed). For me, I love real pinball tables over original designs since the vast majority of real tables have more personality and balance to them; Pro Pinball and Little Wing Pinball come close, while Zen Studios is getting better. This game does seem kinda beta-like on the Xbox 360; the graphics seem vastly inferior to the upcoming PS3 version and the scoring rollover leadeboard glitch for Ripley's Believe It or Not and Theater of Magic (which are fine on the mobile platforms). Not to mention the interface (okay for now but will be a chore later on). I like the controls for this game just fine as I haven't noticed any problems with it. The mobile versions are better focused for their respective formats.

    Like I said before, I think emulations of real tables can fit into a video game just fine due to better scoring balance and personality (not to mention shorter games). I don't think you have to be over 40 to appreciate pinball either; the best-selling pinball table of all-time was The Addams Family, which was released when I was 6 years old (1992). The target audience the movie, which the table is based on, was kids and teenagers who never heard of the original series. I believe the Zen Studios tables don't stray much away from real pinball (with exception to a couple tables); just with flashier effects (like realtime animation) and longer ball time (their tables have more forgiving outlanes and center gaps). Zen's nudge feature, however, is much harsher than most games I've played. So from my personal experience, I actually lose more in Zen's tables because of the harsh nudge; I have done better on FarSight's recreations since their nudge feature is more lenient than most games.

    If I were to give The Pinball Arcade a rating I would give the Xbox version an 8/10; despite leaderboard issues (score rollovers not counted) and disappointing graphics, it's still a blast but not ready to compete just yet. The iOS version around an 8.75/10; even without Game Center support and a few bugs present, quite well done and very nicely fits the platform (better focused than the Xbox version as well).

    Comparatively, I would give Pinball FX 2 a 9/10; awesome presentation and original, creative designs (even though it's still not as polished as real tables), the whole package. Zen Pinball on the iOS gets a 8.75/10; feels less of a priority (in terms of table selection) compared to the console versions, but it's still as good as its console brother in terms of presentation and playabilty.
    Last edited by HardcorePinballGamer4Life; 04-07-2012 at 02:28 AM.

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    I have to say that while I am having a lot of fun with TPA, I am quite a bit disappointed in the final product. I bought it at launch and have put about 5 hours into it so far. The product just feels unfinished.

    Here is my little rant:

    The lighting tech for the 360 version didn't get upgraded before launch, which is quite a letdown. Basically this game looks exactly like PHoF with a better looking ball. I was expecting it to look incredible thanks to the new lighting tech that they have posted screens of... Apparently the PS3 release will have the new lighting and the 360 release will be patched in. We will see. This is what TotAN should have looked like...



    The menu is terrible with 4 tables... imagine when they start releasing loads of DLC. It feels like the menu is a direct port from the iOS version. It should be the other way around. If they have as much DLC as they are planning, this menu is going to be useless.

    Whats up the the "Full Game Activated" button? Why is it even there? You couldn't just get rid of the button when the full game is bought?

    The leaderboards are obviously better than PHoF but pale in comparison to FX2.

    The rule sheets in this game are much better than FX2. Although I feel like quite a bit of the extra stuff was left out... The flyer is a nice touch, but even on my 57" HDTV fully zoomed in some of the smaller text was impossible to read. Why cant we zoom in farther? Is the scan not high enough quality?

    And the flyer is the ONLY thing in the table extras. Why couldn't we have some of the other cool stuff? Most of these machines launched with little 2 min promotional videos. I would have liked to see those included along with a digital version of the original manual that comes with the machine. Also would have liked a 3D model of the machine that we could rotate around and zoom in and out to our hearts desire.

    The physics, while pretty damn good, are still a little wonky. TPA definitely recreates the feel of real life machines more accurately the FX2 ever could. FX2's ball feels much heavier and more predictable. That's not saying FX2 is bad, just different... I enjoy them both quite a bit.

    Operators menus are completely absent... There isn't a single way to tinker around with the tables settings. This is completely inexcusable. We bought the tables, let us mess around with them just like we would be able to IRL.

    TotAN is an amazing table. I love it, but am disappointed to see it in the launch bundle. I already bought it years ago. Why should I have to buy it again just to get a shinier ball? I never owned the other collection so Black Hole is new to me, but it is by far my least favorite in the pack. I much prefer the DMD machines as that is what I grew up with. They are much more fun, IMHO.

    I don't care for their business model... 50% of all announced content for TPA is rehashed. Why not release brand new content first and then follow it up with a Classic Collection DLC Pack? PHoF still plays a great game of pinball. If I wanted to play TotAN I could have just popped my disc in.

    I have a sick feeling that all future DLC will be 1 new table and 1 rehashed table bundled together for $5, forcing you to buy both even though you already own one of them in a previous game. I paid $15 for PHoF and felt it was an awesome deal. TPA seems like it will be getting quite pricey with all the DLC.

    FX2 has been out for over a year. Farsight knew exactly what their competition was. Did they even attempt to make a game that could compete with FX2? Not really IMO. Sure their physics are more realistic, but the total package left quite a bit to be desired. Farsight has plans to patch in new content and modes. I guess we will see if they live up to their word and make this game much better. I hope so, but I am not going to hold my breath.

    TPA is supposted to be a homage to the machines that we remeber playing in our youth. Instead the package is about as BAREBONES as it gets. They got the rights to all the tables... why not take full advantage of them and make a game worthy to hold all those classic licenses.

    Like I said before, the game is great fun. It is as close as you can get to playing the actual machine without having to track one down. But I just hoped it would have been so much better. Hopefully Farsight has a few tricks up their sleeve.

    Being a pinhead, I will still buy up all the DLC on day one. I am definitely looking forward to Attack from Mars, Circus Voltaire, Monster Bash, and Dr. Dude. Hopefully they can lock down some of the movie tables in the future. T2, Dracula, and Shadow are on the top of my list.

    One last thing... Where the hell is Whitewater? It should have been in PHoF, and it definitely needs to bee in TPA!

    Score: 7 out of 10

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    Senior Member shogun00's Avatar
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    Quick question since you guys have the game.

    How large is the download for the 360 version?

    I'll be buying the game for the PS3 next week, but would like to get an idea at how large it is.

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    184.42 MB

    PS3 seems like the best platform due to the improved lighting at release, shared Vita licenses, and greater patch frequency.
    They took our pinball machines!
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    Senior Member shogun00's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue View Post
    184.42 MB

    PS3 seems like the best platform due to the improved lighting at release, shared Vita licenses, and greater patch frequency.
    Thanks!

    Adding the improvements into account, I'm looking at ~200MB for the PSN version. That's about 150MB less than Marvel Pinball's core program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KGSoloman8000 View Post
    I have to say that while I am having a lot of fun with TPA, I am quite a bit disappointed in the final product. I bought it at launch and have put about 5 hours into it so far. The product just feels unfinished

    ...

    Score: 7 out of 10
    I agree with pretty much everything you've said.

    The best thing TPA has going for it is the licenses.

    But it's about a bare-bones a recreation as you can get.

    Even the promotional flyers are low resolution, for christ's sake. What's the point of zooming an image in, if the image is highly compressed and pixellated?

    The UI is very ordinary. Clearly, they just want a single (tablet-driven) UI, but that doesn't work well for non-tablet devices. They need to hire some actual designers.

    These tables deserve better.

    I can only hope that FS improves the tables over time, but I don't think that's a given. They've clearly rushed TPA on to as many platforms as they could, without adequate QA and attention to detail.

    6/10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Womble View Post
    These tables deserve better.
    I couldn't have said it better myself.

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    Senior Member shogun00's Avatar
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    I just bought the PS3 version of the game. I'm just going make a list of the pros and cons.

    Pros:
    * The new lighting gives the game an arcade atmosphere.
    * The ball physics have been greatly improved compared to the Pinball Hall of Fame (PHOF) games.
    * The game is far less glitchy compared to PHOF, especially in the audio department.
    * No more moon balls.
    * You can earn an extra ball for beating the Replay.
    * Detailed rule sheets.
    * I like the table/wizard goals and trophy system.
    * PS3/Vita compatibility.

    Neutral:
    * The nudging has been improved, but it can still be better.
    * The User Interface (UI) may get overwhelming in the future. However, both Zen Pinball and Marvel Pinball for the PS3 have similar UIs, so I'm pretty used to it.

    Cons:
    * The plunger camera is ridiculous. It makes me feel like a noob trying to find the start button on the machine.
    * Although the lighting has improved, the game still lacks proper GI Lighting (dimming/fading).
    * The ball bounces way too much compared to a real pinball machine.
    * The ball bounces the same way off the metal parts as it does with the elastics. This is creating some unnecessary outlane drains, when the ball hits the metal divider between the inlane and outlane.
    * No online multiplayer mode.
    * Lack of controller options and no operator's menu.
    * Each table is set at a different incline. This is making the ball roll much faster in some tables compared to others.
    Last edited by shogun00; 04-13-2012 at 02:27 AM.

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    Initial thoughts. First time playing TPA. Coming from Zen/Marvel I have to say I wasn't impressed with the ball physics....... at first. It took me a while to get used to how the ball handled and I got frustrated when I would lose my balls to the outlanes. (Nudge is you friend here) once I got used to Nudge the tables felt better and I was completing most of the missions for every table.

    Some annoying things:
    - it seems the flippers are limp the ball heads down the flipper so fast when you get a chance to pin the ball that trying to shoot at targets on the far sides of the tables hard to pull off.
    - Some times the balls feels really floaty
    - there should be some restart feature like zen it's annoying that you have to exit then start from the table selection every-time you finish and want to play again.

    Pros -
    It's great that I will be able to experience many of the classic tables from the big pinball makers- Brings back the nostalgia when I went to visit arcades back in the 80's
    The price of the title is great and looking forward to more tables. More tables ASAP

    Fav table so far is

    1 Theater of Magic. Great balance of missions and how to accomplish them the table feels very good. as the 'history' stated it's a huge fan favorite and they are right.
    2. Ripley's very unique table. It was the only 1 that I could keep the ball in play confusing where to shoot targets but then again this is the first (and not the last time) I played TPA
    3. Arabian Nights - First table I played this is where I though I made a mistake when I bought this. Then I played it after all the other tables and found it to be very good table once I got used to the ball physics and Nudge being you friend.
    4. Black Hole - this table feels really slow. What's great about for me is that you need to be accurate to hit targets. I like games that have that sort of skill requirement.
    5. Medieval Madness - What you say? I know that the table isn't out yet but I'm looking forward to it once it's released.


    Overall, If you are a fan of pinball, TBA is a must buy. It is quite different from ZEN if you are used to those tables - and that's a good thing. With both companies bringing out tables left and right it's great to be a pinball fan.

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    Senior Member bclewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tenorhero View Post
    Some annoying things:
    ...- there should be some restart feature like zen it's annoying that you have to exit then start from the table selection every-time you finish and want to play again.
    That's interesting; on Xbox I had the impression that starting the next game on TPA was significantly faster than with FX2, and I have been really appreciating that especially when playing Black Hole.

    Are you talking about restarting before you've finished a game (i.e. "rage quitting"?) -- that's something I haven't tried on TPA yet.

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    Re the UI, the good news is that they will be completely replacing it in a future update.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bclewis View Post
    That's interesting; on Xbox I had the impression that starting the next game on TPA was significantly faster than with FX2, and I have been really appreciating that especially when playing Black Hole.

    Are you talking about restarting before you've finished a game (i.e. "rage quitting"?) -- that's something I haven't tried on TPA yet.
    Not Rage quitting but it seems at least to me that it takes a bit longer to start a new game playing the same table after you finish a full game. It does load faster than Zen games but in all honesty It can be a minor annoyance.

    Any way been delving into TPA and I must say that the instructions/rule sheet is so much better in TPA than Zen. I like how it shows where to shoot and which is right loop/orbit. Read through the entire instructions for Theater of Magic and my scores increased just by understanding what to do and where to go. I figured most of the stuff out but some of the interesting aspects of the table I didn't know about until I read the instructions. Kudos to Farsight for doing a great job on that.

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    Senior Member maink's Avatar
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    can you play custom music on the ps3 version ? . they said there was supposed to be a demo on psblog .. but that never happened , im still hesitating in buying .
    i don't have a pci use ps3 browser

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    Quote Originally Posted by maink View Post
    can you play custom music on the ps3 version ? . they said there was supposed to be a demo on psblog .. but that never happened , im still hesitating in buying .
    I'm not sure about custom music. I really don't pay attention to that type of feature.

    As for the demo, just wait for a week or two. It'll be added eventually.

    When I bought the game, it gave me the demo and the unlock code.

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    Currently no option for custom music in the PS3 version.

    Quote Originally Posted by shogun00 View Post
    Cons:
    * Each table is set at a different incline. This is making the ball roll much faster in some tables compared to others.
    Interesting. This is one of my favorite features of Pinball Arcade. FarSight did a great job making the tables feel distinct. It's obvious they were made by different developers during different eras (or in the case of Theatre of Magic and Arabian Nights, that they were both designed by Popadiuk).

    Hopefully Zen will begin to focus on diversity. Most of their tables feel like they were created by the same five developers: equal flipper distance, same pitch, similar ramp placement, same voice actors, recycled melodies, bad DMD clipart, etc. Even when they copy the designs of popular tables, the end result is lacking.

    Quote Originally Posted by tenorhero View Post
    it seems the flippers are limp the ball heads down the flipper so fast when you get a chance to pin the ball that trying to shoot at targets on the far sides of the tables hard to pull off.
    - Some times the balls feels really floaty
    That's how real pinball works. Zen doesn't accurately model gravity, inertia, or friction. It's much harder to shoot from the end of the flipper on physical tables.
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    I'm seriously disappointed. When their Ps3 version was released, they unveil that europe version hasn't been approved yet by SCEE and the game comes out in may.

    This just feels like they doesn't care about the Europe release at all. Now we see how Zen makes all the releases better than Farsight.
    PINBALL4EVER!!!!

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    Not sure, but it may well be Sony's fault.

    Their regional segmentation doesn't seem to help developers or consumers.

    It's amazing just how comprehensively Sony has blown this generation. Bad choices at every stage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Womble View Post
    It's amazing just how comprehensively Sony has blown this generation. Bad choices at every stage.

    Shhhhhh ! a fanboy could hear you !!!!! as far as i know the ps3 is just good for playing blu rays ... oh and sengoku basara sometimes .... ok heavy rain wasn't too bad either

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    Well, I'm happy with Pinball Arcade's first tables, but I'm not too fussy.
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  28. #28
    Senior Member maink's Avatar
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    i haven't bought the game yet. it is not normal that good pinball players says that this game is total crap , i will wait for a demo , if no demo i will wait for price drop , and no custom soundtracks.
    i don't have a pci use ps3 browser

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    It's definitely not "total crap".

    In many ways, it's an excellent product. The core emulation is very solid, the frame-rate is good and the physics are more than passable.

    And it really does show just how lacking the PHOF was in terms of physics. (And in my opinion, borderline unplayable.)

    But, it's also clear that the entire TPA product range needs more work.

    FarSight have obviously gone for a strategy of quantity over quality. In pushing the game on to every platform they could, as quickly as possible, they've done a fairly poor job of optimising and polishing the game for each platform.

    And, they've made some very poor decisions in the process. e.g. mandating 1080p ("a management decision"), using a tablet-style UI for consoles and computers alike, not investing in suitable design and art, and having a mismatch in quality between versions.

    Right now, TPA doesn't approach Zen's output in terms of quality and attention to detail.

    However, FarSight appear to be aware of these issues, and more importantly, willing to tackle them.


    And really, for $10? It's a no-brainer if you like pinball.

  30. #30
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    The Flint Hills
    Posts
    39

    Thumbs up My first impression

    First of all I am a huge fan of Zen's pinball philosophy and Pinball FX 2. I feel that having second pinball title of quality is of benefit to them and I wish them well.

    PA has in these 4 opening tables made me a fan. I just downloaded it for the Xbox360 in the past hour or so and I played each table once and came here to post. I understand the conflicting reports and I largely agree with both sides in so far as I have personally experienced. The physics for PA feel spot on for me in my first impression run of 30 minutes for all four tables. I have played real pinball tables in my youth and PA seems to have focused less on overarching pinball table ideology due to not having even half the creative licensing requirements table wise as PBFx2. Farsight has the potential to grow the video pinball niche Zen has made larger with a modern retro-pinball emulator in making a title with a different philosophy. I am not going to talk much about the UI as I do largely agree with what has been stated in this thread. I also know nothing of glitches in the tables themselves and yes the leaderboards feel unwieldly. Each table was fun, no favorite yet. PA is difficult where PBFX2 is not and this is why I made my comments about fence sitting on the pros and cons listed above. Because I feel if both games have valid design goals and different, valid philosophies Farsight and Zen will be able to preserve a pinball playing population larger than either could alone because neither game's pro's or con's reflect as poorly on the other game.

    I am looking forward to the next release of DLC for PBFX2 and I am very pleased to have The Pinball Arcade to waste my time away with until The Avengers, Hulk, Thanos n Civil War hit . Zen, thanks so much for the promise of the stand alone Doctor Strange table I hope it gets made.

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