Game Review: Marvel Pinball – Civil War Table [Xbox 360/PS3/iOS/PSVita]
An Xbox 360 code for this table was provided by Zen Studios for the purpose of this review. It is also available on PS3, PS Vita, Mac, iOS and Android.
Civil War, the latest in the Marvel Pinball series of tables for Zen Studios’ pinball games on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network and mobile platforms, is an intriguing take on Marvel’s major event thread, which saw superheroes who were usually on the same side fight each other in terms of morals, ethics and fisticuffs.
Its most unique feature is presented by the incident that triggered the Civil War, represented by the Stamford Multiball. This Multiball doesn’t occur inside a normal game, but can be played before it. The task is to score as much as possible in it by rescuing survivors of the incident, as you would expect from any multiball. However, whatever your best score is in this feature becomes your base score when you start a normal game. If you can get into the millions on that feature alone, it bodes well for your overall scores. Offering an easy way for new players to get to the frantic pleasure of a Multiball situation is a good idea, and as you can’t let any ball drop, it’s a fun challenge to get as far as you can.
There are two sides to the game, reflecting the Civil War theme. When you start, you get to choose to be Pro or Anti-Registration for superheroes, by choosing Iron Man or Captain America. As you progress, you lose and gain followers for your side of the cause, culminating in fights which change depending on which superheroes have joined which cause. Your choice will also impact some of the features you can use, as different factions help your cause in different ways. This can make the table into two games in one, almost, and means you will need to experiment to see which one you prefer, bolstering replayability.
Included in the table’s design are a large 3D modelled Iron Man and Captain America who can fight in choreographed slow-motion, as well as a TV which feeds live reports of what is happening according to how well you are playing. It announces people joining either side of the Registration Act, and other major incidents. There are also special shots which cause light trails and effects which are really quite beautiful for this type of game and the extra visual feedback helps in keeping the player engaged. The music is also pretty strong, adding a dramatic tone to your play, building tension when you might start to make mistakes.
The main issue is the somewhat confusing and difficult nature of the table. The ramps are positioned in a way that can make getting momentum difficult, and as the game wants you to really race to gain recruits, it can be quite easy to get frustrated at how much the table itself may be slowing you down. Of course, once you get the hang of it, it’s a pretty satisfying play, but just be aware that the skill ceiling is pretty high on this one. Zen have pushed themselves on this one, at least in terms of presentation and theme, and it should be at least tried for that alone.