Publisher: Zen Studios / Developer: Zen Studios / Platform: PSN, XBLA

I’ll admit, I’m not all that great at pinball, but I sure do love it.  Video game pinball and the real thing are both the same to me  – I grew up on a four-table pinball game for my computer called Slam Tilt Pinball and my childhood friend and I still play Dragon’s Fury on the Sega Genesis.  I currently have the top score on a Family Guy table in the game room of some hotel in Wildwood, NJ.  While I don’t know any foolproof strategies or best-scoring methods, I still love playing pinball, and Zen Studios’ Pinball FX2 is no exception.  FX2 is definitely a strong pinball game, probably one of the best.  It has grown into a rather respectable and varied library of tables, and this month’s Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue DLC introduces a new set of four Marvel-themed tables.

The first set of Marvel tables, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Blade, were all fun tables with the unique draw of having each table’s main character (and a few extras) actually appear on the table itself and interact with it as you play.  The Vengeance and Virtue set does pretty much the same thing, this time with tables themed around Thor, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider and the X-Men.  I don’t have an absolute standout favorite of the bunch, but there are a few tables that to me seem stronger than others.  I also don’t really follow comic books so I’m not exactly sure how well any of these tables tie in to the respective characters’ mythos.

Thor’s table has quite a few ramps and is fairly straightforward.  There are a few extra missions outside the standard “hit ramp X then choose a mission” format almost every pinball table has, such as hitting a specific cluster of bumpers a few times to summon a giant lava demon-thingy and fight it (see?  I told you I don’t know the stories very well).  Overall I found it to be a fun table.

Moon Knight’s table is literally all ramps.  I think there might be one bumper somewhere, but other than that the entire table is a series of ramps that all lead every which direction.  Because of this, I found the table to flow really well, and while getting the ramp you want might be a problem, you’re pretty much guaranteed your ball will be going somewhere rather than bumping some corner and unceremoniously rolling back down to the flippers.  One of the missions in particular irked me (hit these two specific ramps or take a penalty!), but I really enjoyed the Moon Knight table.

Out of all the tables, I think the Ghost Rider table is my least favorite.  It isn’t bad, but I just find the table to be too confusing and random to be as much fun as the others.  The entire table reeks of “power metal” design, which I suppose goes with Ghost Rider’s aesthetic, but the thing that bothered me the most was how the table as a whole just seemed jumbled together.  Ramps stick out at odd ends, some hidden flipper is actually behind a ramp, just barely out of sight, and I think you can do something with that spinning Wheel of Fortune-looking thing in the back?  I’m not really sure.  Maybe I’m just missing something, but I just didn’t really get the table.

The X-Men table seemed, to me, like the most difficult table of the bunch.  I didn’t find this to be a bad thing, though.  See, the entire “point” of the table, I suppose you can call it, is that you’re fighting Magneto.  Fighting Magneto with a metal pinball goes just about as well as you’d think.  Magneto will, from time to time, grab your pinball if you get too close to him and fling it in a random direction.  Sometimes he’ll even take pieces of the table itself apart.  It’s a really neat mechanic that takes advantage of the fact that a pinball video game can do things that a real pinball table could never do.  The table never turns into some crazy fantasy-action pinball game, but it really has an extra bit of excitement to it that I think more tables should have.

If I were to have one complaint about the Vengeance and Virtue DLC, it would be that the tables seem almost too easy compared to other FX2 tables.  On my first try of each table I scored at least 12 Million with little problem.  Maybe I just got lucky?  I’m not sure.  Either way I found this set of tables to be a fun addition to my growing FX2 library (The “Mars” table might be next on my list…), and if you can part with $10 for this set of four tables, I’d say it’s worth your money.