Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams CollectionESRB:
Developer: Farsight Studios
Publisher: Crave Entertainment
Number of Players: 1-4
Required HDD Space: At least 3 MB
Supported HD video output: 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Online Support (Leaderboard)
My first experience with Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection took place at E3 earlier this year. As I played I could not help but think about being able to play some classic pinball but from the comfort of my home theater chairs. Well Crave has recently released the Xbox 360 and PS3 version of this game, and after tooling around with the PS3 version I have to say I was very surprised with how much I enjoyed the finished product.
Visually The Williams Collection is solid. Actually, the more I think about it the more I realize it is much better than I had anticipated. The graphics are in true HD and everything just jumps off the screen. Given the source material, pinball machines with lots of colors and lots of lights, the developers have pulled off some pretty spectacular virtual pinball tables for use on the PS3. Everything that you may remember from the actual machines is present and accounted for here. From the talking head in Funhouse to the multicolored targets in Pin*Bot, the accuracy is uncanny. It looks like great care has been taken in each pinball machines virtual remake on screen I think that anyone who plays this game will be very surprised, and thankful, for the work that went into the visuals.
The audio in The Williams Collection is amazing. Sure, there is no dynamic soundtrack or score, but there is no doubt that there was a lot of recording and reproducing of the sounds for each pinball table. I was amazed with each and every sound that was included for each table. As with the visuals, everything that you may remember seems painstaking recreated. From the sound of the talking head in Funhouse that I mentioned in the visuals, to the cylon sounding robotic voice that you will hear in Pin*Bot. These are just two examples specific in a game full of other pinball tables. Each of the 13 tables have sounds of their own, from bumpers, targets, and ramps, and all of them are included in this game. In a nutshell I have to say that the sound was something that really caught me off guard given how accurate everything seems and how it brings each pinball table to life.
Pinball was very popular while I was growing up. I remember many days when I went into the local arcade and tried my luck at the various machines available. I have to say that I truly sucked at it, but it was still fun. As time went by there were some really innovative pinball machines made, and some of those came from Williams. Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection first saw release on the Wii, PS2 and PSP quite some time ago, and it was not until recently that Crave released a version for the more powerful consoles, the PS3 and Xbox 360, with HD graphics, extra tables, and online leaderboard support.
Right off the hop I have to say that I am somewhat surprised with how many tables are included in this game. There are a total of 13 tables, with the PS3 (and Xbox 360) version having three more then what was found in the original release on the less powerful consoles. The following is the list of tables found on the disc:
- Black Knight
- Space Shuttle
- Jive Time
- Arabian Nights (PS3 and Xbox 360 only)
- Medieval Madness (PS3 and Xbox 360 only)
- No God Gofers (PS3 and Xbox 360 only)
There are definitely a wide range of tables ranging from the recognizable to the non-recognizable. I am sure that many die-hard pinball fans know all of these included tables, but for me only some are instantly familiar where as others had to be seen in order to remotely jog my memory. Regardless, there are 13 of them and that is a lot of tables to master.
Now I have had the chance to play some real pinball in my day, but I am far from an expert. That being said, I have to say that as I went through the available tables I noticed how lifelike the ball moved, bounced and jumped. This was very evident on the Whirlwind table when the spinning disc does its thing and the ball hits it. It really looked just as I remember when I actually played Whirlwind in the arcade as the ball was sent careening off in an unexpected direction. I found that whatever you can do in a real game of pinball can be done in this virtual version on the PS3 as well (e.g. moving the ball from one flipper to another). And as with real pinball, you can tilt the machines that you play on too.
As with the real thing, things can get pretty crazy on the pinball table, and I was very amazed on how this virtual version could recreate such things as multi-ball madness to specific target shots that had to be made in a very short time. It added pressure and the need to use some skill, just like you would have to do when finding yourself in an old school arcade and standing at the actual pinball machine itself. The accuracy of playing for real is pretty astounding.
I also think that it is worth commenting on the camera angle(s) that are offered up while playing. Virtual pinball has always been reliant on two things: physics and camera. I have already noted the physics, and thankfully the camera in this game is spot on too as it manages to keep your attention on the task at hand. It pulls back at just the right times, as well as zooming in when you need it too. It is almost as if the camera has a bit of intelligence to it given that it seems to be at the right place at the right time. I don’t know how the development team did it, but I rarely had any difficulty with watching the action on screen.
The real attraction here is that you just don’t sit around and play virtual pinball for no reason then just playing as there are incentives for you to play over and over again. There are a specific number of tasks for each table, such as trigging table specific events, that you must complete. Once you complete each task you open up such things as Free Play, cheats, and even custom pinballs. Should you have difficulty completing some of the tasks there is an included tutorial for you to watch enabling you to see how to complete the harder tasks. Of course there are also the now traditional PS3 specific trophies for you to earn too.
As would be expected there is some multiplayer madness. You can play with up to three other players on each table, with each person taking a turn. I really wonder if the developers considered some online multiplayer as it would have been fun to hit the PlayStation Network to play with others who may have mastered this game already.
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