It’s hard not to sound like a broken record when championing the quality of Zen’s virtual pinball tables; what more is there to say at this point? The studio has perfected the gameplay, providing an experience that is authentic, fun and fair. Presentation is absolutely on point – the sounds, art styles, animations and commitment to the every table’s theme are all delivered extraordinarily. And then they throw in a plethora of little touches that a real table could never offer you, and you have virtual pinball perfection.
The Iron and Steel pack, the latest addition to Zen Pinball 2, is no exception. Offering two, brand new tables – one medieval adventure inspired by Zen’s own Castle Storm and a wholly original, cowgirl rodeo in the form of Wild West Rampage – the Iron and Steel pack is simply another showcase of Zen’s flipping talent.
Of the two tables, Castle Storm is easily the weakest. Perhaps let down by its own ambition, Castle Storm’s large scale and fast pace just don’t mix. The presentation is still there – a donkey kicks the ball into play, vikings pop up as enemy targets etc. – but for reasons I just can’t put my hands on, the table isn’t very fun.
Wild West Rampage, on the other hand, is probably the best Zen table I have played to date. Small in scale and obvious in its objectives, Wild West Rampage is an accessible table for beginners that also manages to offer pinball wizards plenty to aim for.
Once your steam engine launches the ball into the field, Wild West Rampage gives you an abundance of cowboy and cowgirl inspired targets to draw your sights on. Let your ball slip under the sheriff’s badge and it’ll be thrown back into play through through a second floor window, shards of glass flying across the table. While you try your ‘darn-tootin-est’ (that’s a cowboy thing to say, isn’t it?) to keep the ball in play, a steam train choo-choos down the left hand side of the screen.
The nicest touch of all, though, are the bumpers which take the form of dual pistols, letting out a satisfying gunshot sound every time the ball collides with them.
Had the Castle Storm table been released on its own, I would have had a hard time recommending it to anyone other than the most die hard of virtual pinball fanatics. But Wild West Rampage is worth the price of admission alone, with Castle Storm merely acting as some salt and pepper on the steak.