Zen has been pumping out some quality Pinball FX2 tables recently, such as Age of Ultron and Star Wars Rebels, that show that they have been really paying attention to recent trends in pop-culture. This week they have their sights set on a table based on one of my favorite First Person puzzle games; Portal.
The naming for this table is a bit confusing, as the table isn’t based on the original Portal, but more so on Portal 2. This is in no way a bad thing, as the Portal 2 world has more diverse options for using characters. The Portal 2 characters are all included in some way in the Portal table for Pinball FX2. Does this table offer Portal and Pinball FX2 fans the perfect melding of Portal comedy and Pinball play? Let’s find out.
This table is chock-full of ramps and flippers, 6 flippers by my count, as well as a hidden second playfield that is shown when selecting the Rat Man Den mission. There are also bumpers and kickouts, and most of the traditional fare that pinball players are used to. There is a lack of popups, but it was only after playing for numerous hours and starting this review that I noticed, so I won’t complain about them being absent. An added gameplay mechanic that isn’t possible in mechanical tables is the use of portals for skillshots and mixing up the board layout to a small degree.
Missions are varied, memorable and enjoyable, the standard hit-these-ramps-in-this-order are offset with missions such as hitting a turret with a laser guided by redirection cubes, as well as the aforementioned Rat Man Den second playfield. You’ll know what gameplay to expect from each mission after a few playthroughs. High scores rely on completing missions, but if you keep an eye on the orange and blue Portal symbols you’ll have easy reference to help guide you.
The brilliant idea to use two ramps, one for Atlas and the other for P-Body, to fill the lights for multiball was both genius and makes perfect sense. It is a great way to use the characters while allowing the interactions between Chell and GlaDOS to shine through through most of the single ball missions.The visuals are better than the average as far as Pinball FX2 tables go. Seeing GlaDOS, Chell and the turrets in the table introduction left no doubt that care went into creating a table that was as close to the source material as possible. This type of fan service is always appreciated.
I’ve been a stickler on sound before. Hearing the same lines repeated ad nauseum can destroy an otherwise great table’s enjoyability. I am happy to say that this table uses amazing samples from GlaDOS and Wheatley, as well as the occasional turret. They don’t seem to play so often as to annoy, but often enough to remind you that you are playing something from Portal’s world. Little quotes like “If at first you don’t succeed, fail five more times” are just the right amount of sarcastic banter that we all expect from our favorite homicidal sentient testing facility controlling computer.
This section is important, because it helps set the stage for my scoring of this table. Pinball FX2 may not be a perfect simulation of mechanical pinball. There are, however, additions that Zen has made that offer a different gameplay experience that I hope diehard mechanical fans will see as making Pinball FX2 every bit as fun. I believe that Pinball FX2 is the best pinball software available on console and close to the top of the list on PC as well.
This is the showcase table, ladies and gentlemen. It is the one that you load up when people ask what themes are available. It’s the table that you load when you first start PBFX 2. It’s the last table you play when you’re ready to do something non-gaming related. In my humble opinion, Portal is the best Pinball FX2 table available and everyone who plays Pinball FX2 should have no issue with throwing down the $2.99.