Zen Pinball 2 is not a release that lends itself to a traditional review. Much like an MMO or a Free-2-Play game, the true value of the title will be determined by how well it is supported after launch. Because the game only launched with one new table, I decided to simply write up some impressions of the game’s launch rather than review it in full. ZP2 is a new release on Play Station Network that brings new tables as well as physics and graphics updates to the Zen Pinball and Marvel Pinball collections. If you already own these collections you can import them for free into the ZP2 engine. You actually pay nothing when you download the client, but it comes with no pinball tables. Each table or table set must be purchased separately. The individual tables cost $3 and the packs cost $10. The game supports 27 tables in all, 26 tables from Zen Pinball and Marvel Pinball and one new table exclusive to ZP2.
As a game Zen Pinball 2 is a lot of fun. The physics engine is solid and you feel like you have good control over the ball. The tables that I played were well designed and I had a lot of fun racking up high scores. The one new table that was released alongside ZP2 is based upon PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies. This was the table I ended up spending the most amount of time with. The table is fairly easy, so if you are looking for a serious challenge it may not be for you. I prefer to play this sort of game while listening to podcasts or music, so the table being simple was actually a positive for me. Multi-ball is particularly easy to get as the ramp that leads up to the lock is an easy shot. One of the more promising and unique features in PvZ is that the developers freely utilized the fact that the table was virtual and not real. Zombies dig themselves out from the board and attack the player and your plants will appear to squash, blowup, and generally hinder their progress. In the past most of the tables in the Zen Pinball line have been fairly realistic, but I would really like to see what they do with some tables that aren’t quite so grounded in reality. ZP2 looks as great as it plays and each table is a visual treat with unique themes and really cool dynamic features. The PvZ table is worthy of special mention as it does a great job of utilizing the original game’s art style.
One of the features added in Zen Pinball 2 is Vita support. You can take whatever tables you own on your PS3 and play them on your Vita, which is great because ZP2 is the sort of game that can really thrive in short bursts like a lunch break or a bus ride. Even if you aren’t interested in buying new tables, the upgrades to the engine and Vita support should be enough to make you revisit the tables you already own. Because of the nature of the product it’s hard for me to think of someone who shouldn’t at least check out Zen Pinball 2.