Saturday 29 December 2012

Pinball FX 2: El Dorado

I was told, from clearly unreliable sources, that El Dorado was one of the lesser tables to grace Zen Pinball in 2009. And that's why you don't listen to what people have to say. Opinions suck - more guns in schools!!!

Yes here we are with part two of four, El Dorado, otherwise known as "the green table". It's not the cleverest of Pinball FX 2 additions out there - Gottlieb managed to release a real-life pinball table of the same name back in 1975... and then re-made it in 1984... and recycled the layout half a dozen times in the intervening years. With such a keen interest in pinball you'd think Zen Studios would have noticed, but hey, nobody said we had to be original.

And at least we can say that this El Dorado was also well designed, as evidenced by the fact that very little has changed here since its PlayStation 3 outing. It plays well and looks great, and with buried replay value deep within, it perhaps represents the best value for money out of the four tables on offer here. It's a fun and well put together entry in the Pinball FX 2 library - don't let any of the comments below make you think otherwise.

But my Squirrel sense tells me that all is not well. El Dorado strikes me as the oldest of these four Zen Classics tables, because moreso than the other three, this one really shows its age. I've mentioned before of Zen Studios insistence to skip on audio, and a fantastic example of this practise is El Dorado - multiballs and missions are triggered frequently, yet the muffled PlayStation 1-esque music never changes (and doesn't even loop properly).

It's a game which sadly lacks character - though we're blessed with an announcer which gives instructions, he too is hindered by Zen's frugal approach to sound, leading to a very subdued release in comparison to more recent endeavours. Though the layout holds up very well, the lack of sheer brilliance grounds this table in the realms of the past and thirty-minute games can pass without thrills - there's something troubling about the experience and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Then again, I'm not entirely sure what an upgrade of this nature is supposed to entail - the backgrounds are prettier, but aside from expected physics improvements, little else has evolved. El Dorado is not a table which pushes boundaries, and though I wouldn't personally class it as boring, I can understand why others would as it's hardly going to get your blood pumping in its current state. Perhaps an upgrade is in order.

But despite perhaps needing another coat of paint, it's difficult to complain about the state of El Dorado. I'm not overly sure why we need both this and Shaman since the themes aren't too dissimilar, but it's a fine addition to the Pinball FX2 family and well worth a look.

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