If Zen Pinball 2 tables reviews were pennies, I’d have … 5 pennies, or something. From that very first penny, I’ve championed the brilliance of what Zen Studios does with the arcade favourite. And now, with a silver coin of Zen reviews in my pocket, I can only echo what they do with the silver ball: awesome virtual pinball.
Like all Zen Pinball 2 tables, Portal feels and plays great. This is virtual ‘p-ball’ (that’s what the kids are calling it) at its finest – offering a fast, fun and completely fair experience for experts and novices alike. You flip your flippers with your chosen console’s shoulder buttons, trying to keep the ball out of the gutter whilst triggering special events along the way by aiming for specific ramps, rails and sections of the table. Y’know, pinball stuff.
And these special events are what make a Zen table stand out from a real one; they offer up nifty little twists that a real table never could. Completely committing to the theme – as all Zen tables do – you’ll see the ball drop into a portal and appear at a totally different spot on the table. Aim the ball for a chamber at the top-centre part of the screen and you’ll unlock a secondary table, guarded by Portal‘s signature sentry turrets. It’s this sense of animation that makes a Zen Pinball table so special, and so much fun.
This particular table is undeniably Portal, looking like an Aperture Science test chamber ripped straight from one of the Valve games. The familiar and foreboding figure of GlaDOS hovers over the table whist Atlas and P-Body can make an appearance if the right conditions are met. The nicest touch, though, is that the table’s intro sequence begins with series protagonist Chell waking up, just like in the first Portal, and taking her place at the bottom left hand of the screen, Portal Gun in hand. Hit certain table objectives and she’ll shoot a portal into the wall, moving around the screen in a nice little nod to the subject material.
The Portal table itself is fairly large, offering a tonne of ‘quests’ for pros to aim for, to get the most out of the experience, and plenty of ramps and animations to keep hit-and-hope novices like myself entertained.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Zen Pinball 2 offers the best virtual pinball experience around – yes, even better than that Space Cadet table you got with Windows XP – and, with an ever-expanding library of tables, it gets better and better all the time.