The movie Alien is cited as one of the greatest horror movies ever made and with good reason. I have a confession though, if I had to chose between this or the sequel, the latter wins every time. Facing one Alien is bad enough but swarms of them is much more deadlier and it is this movie Zen Studios have decided to convert into one of the three tables in this pack. There have been many games using the Alien franchise some great and some well less so. I have always praised Zen Studios for their use of franchises and it doesn’t come without merit. What they have done for digital pinball is nothing short of remarkable and their transformation of franchise to the pinball world is a joy to experience. Their latest table pack takes the the Alien universe and feeds xenomoprh’s those balls of steel across three tables. The tables included in this pack are Aliens, Alien vs. Predator and Alien Isolation.
It wasn’t a tough decision in what table I would boot up first as I just had to revisit Hadley’s Hope in all new pinball form. The table design itself does an amazing job of getting in the most iconic details from the movie. Attached to the rear wall of the table the the enormous bad ass mother alien with Ripley standing just above the Mission target with her modified Flamethrower Pulse riffle. It seems Zen Studios have found a way to tame Aliens, feed them balls of steal, I just love the ball lock on this table. The tables three bumpers taking the form of the movies processing station. The art work on the table is also outstanding with my favourite but being the face of the function motion tracker just above the flippers. The table itself is situated outside on planet LV426 with rain in tow.
The tables missions are all centred around the movies main plot lines from finding Newt to locking and loading the turrets in the fight against the swarm of aliens coming down the tunnel. I just couldn’t stop visualizing each of the moments movies and this table just keeps me coming back for more. You can select to play the missions in the order they happen in the movies or be able to just chose the order you want. You even get to see Ripply turn your balls of steel into flaming balls of steel – Yeah feel the burn baby – in order to take out the Eggs up on the mini play-field which only has one flipper. Unlike some other tables the if you fail a stage you won’t get to select it again which is fitting. Now I love the video modes Zen Studios give most of their tables and in this you get to steer the M577 down the corridor from the movie. However this is slightly frustrating as it feels harder than it should be to avoid debris. That aside though this is pretty much the perfect Aliens table.
Zen Studios have also done a stellar job with the audio in every single department with the audio being directly taking from the movie. You wont hear any re-recorded soundalikes on this table with Bill Paxton being the show stealer. Those sound effects as you start your game are just spot on and also remind me of Alien Breed. For fans of Aliens this table really makes you feel like you are watching the movie all over again.
We have seen the Alien vs Predator games over the years and those where great and you know by the title of this pack there was going to be some sort of Alien vs Predator table. However it not based on the games but rather the first of the two movies. The pinball table however is something that everyone will be able to enjoy. The table design is very striking visually with the ball being launched by the inter mouth of an Alien. The table is also split into two halves, on the left side you have the Predator standing and one the right an Alien standing. As you play the table you will see the Predator and Alien doing battle. At the back of this table you have the which come into play in a matching game.
This tables mission modes are activated by hitting the Alien in the hole situated in the centre of the table with your third flipper. There are two missions that really stand out for me with one mission that uses the predators heat vision giving the tale a pretty cool look. If there was one table that a vertigo mission is right at home it is an Alien inspired one. This mode has you playing on the table upside down and beware as the table is rotating the ball stays active.
The final table in this pack is not based on an Alien movie but rather the critically acclaimed game Alien Isolation by the good folk over at SEGA. This must have been a testing project giving that the game was all about keeping to the shadows and hiding it must have been hard to transfer this feeling to a pinball table. The table design yet again does not fail to surprise, just like in the game you have an Alien that lurks about at the top of the table stalking Amanda Ripley who stands near a ventilating shaft down down at the bottom of the table. I would have preferred a table based on the original movie that started it all but thanks to some key visual choices there are some areas that feel like it could have been from the movie. This goes especially for when the computer pops up for you to select your mission.
Alien Isolation is a challenging game and a scary one at that and this challenge has been replicated in how you start the missions. The angle needed to hit the mission targets and sink hole is very tight and will require practice. The missions are all based on the main game but I haven’t completed Alien Isolation yet so was a little lost in some. I haven’t got to it yet but the final encounter involves the Alien being blown out of the Airlock. There is also a hacking mini-game which involved a mini playfield opening up in the centre of the table. You then have to hit the flashing targets in a Breakout style inspired moment with you controlling the paddle with the flippers.
The Good Things
- This is worth the price alone for the Aliens Table.
- Exceptional use of the source material especially on the Aliens table.
- The Lurking Alien on the Alien Isolation table.
And The Bad
- Would have preferred a table on the movie Alien rather than Alien Isolation.
- The video mode in the Aliens table feels harder than it should.
- This table pack is worth the price alone just for the Aliens table and its this table that is the star performer. All original source material from the movie has made the cut and syncs very well with on table action. The placement of the voice-overs especially Bill Paxton never feel out of place, this table is certainly the strongest performer out of the three. While the Alien vs Predator movie is not to everyone’s taste you can’t deny the joy from playing this table. I like the design of the table as it is divided in half between the Alien and the Predator. For me the weakest table is the Alien Isolation one but it does have the standout feature of the Alien lurking about at the top of the table to then pounce down to Amanda Ripley if you don’t hide from it. I can fully recommend the Alien vs Predator pack to Alien and Pinball fans alone just for the Aliens table, another fine job from the digital pinball wizards at Zen Studios.
Who knew that Aliens loved eating Balls of Steel.