Pinball FX 2: Sorcerer's Lair Table Review
Developer: Zen Studios
Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360
Jake and Amanda are two kids who find themselves facing off against an Evil Sorcerer in his ancient magical citadel. Their only route to escape (and a hot cup of cocoa at home) for this brother and sister pair is to survive all the creatures summoned by the Sorcerer and ultimately defeat him. How? With the help of a friendly ghost named Whisper, a bunch of obsidian and a lot of pinball.
Zen Studios has added the Sorcerer's Lair table to its Pinball FX 2 platform. It's yet another fun and solid pinball table with tons of cool ramps, lots of missions and a variety of unlockable activity areas layered throughout the table. Sorcerer's Lair is particularly cool in that the table seems open in the center, with densely packed special regions on the periphery, yet there are so many paths for the ball to follow that it is constantly flung through the scenery at high speed. The action is fast, and there are tons of things with which to interact.
I'm particularly enamored of Sorcerer's Lair's many ramps. They creep all around the edges of the table, with junctures formed by rotating towers that send the ball in different directions every time. Other paths send the ball hurtling through the upper reaches of the table, angering a gigantic animate tree or running past the spinners that help you flee from the undead. The ramps are integral to the table's many missions, as only repeat visits to the various ramps will launch missions that help the kids acquire the obsidian fragments they need to defeat the Sorcerer in the table's ultimate mission.
While I loved the table, Sorcerer's Lair is the first table released for Pinball FX 2 that's left me with a real criticism. In addition to the usual two flippers at the bottom of the table, there's a flipper near the middle of the right side of the table. For my first game, I thought that was it. It turns out, there's another flipper all the way in the rear left corner of the table. It's actually a really cool touch, and critical for certain shots. It's also entirely obscured by the score box in certain views (including my preferred table view). That means I lost a lot of the flexibility that I usually appreciate from Pinball FX 2.
Also, while the sound for the Pinball FX 2 tables is usually cool, and Sorcerer's Lair is no exception, this latest table can be a bit awkward. Out of context, the ghoulish gasps and ghostly deep sighs can be easily misconstrued, leading others to walk into the room with questions like, "What on earth are you watchi... Oh. Never mind." Get past those minor issues, and there's some seriously cool stuff to unearth in the Sorcerer's Lair table. Secret areas include a mini-table where you battle spiders or try to escape the woods, and there's even a cool 2D cog and tilting platform puzzle to navigate.
As with so many other Pinball FX 2 tables, it's easy to recommend Sorcerer's Lair for the 240 points ($3) it costs. It's a ton of fun for the cost of two or three plays on a conventional pinball table, if you can even find one. There's one more note to offer. While tangential to the Sorcerer's Lair table itself, one of the strengths of Pinball FX 2 is the social features it offers. It's easy to connect and compete with friends, and build a "Superscore" that's based on all of your high scores multiplied by the number of tables you've played. It can be inspiring to get a message that I've just beat my high score, but with higher scoring tables and 22 tables available those Superscores are creeping up there. Getting a message that I can "Beat a friend's Superscore!" by scoring another 1.3 billion points is just disheartening. It makes me want to throw in the towel. So, buy the table, play some pinball, and ignore the groans and messages with more than nine zeroes in them.