Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection Review
A hi-definition pinball game is the last thing I'd have expected to see arrive at my door step for me to review. Upon opening the package, all I could say to myself was: "pinball?" Yes, pinball. In fact, a whole assortment of pinball games/tables, all of which are legitimately licensed Williams classics. If, by some odd chance the game sounds familiar to you and you feel like it's been released ages ago, you're not going crazy. Pinball Hall of Fame was originally released on the Nintendo Wii and PSP back in February of 2008. But here we have the PlayStation 3 version, which comes complete with all new visuals and three extra tables.
For starters, each and every table is recreated with intricate detail, staying true to the original set it's based on. In total, you have 13 tables to play on, three of which are exclusive to the PlayStation 3 version. These tables span across three different decades of pinball greatness, from the 70s to the 90s, and if you are a fan of pinball machines, chances are many of these will ring a bell, or perhaps bring back some memories. The following is a list of all the tables offered in the game: Black Knight, Firepower, Funhouse, Gorgar, Pin*Bot, Space Shuttle, Taxi, Whirlwind, Jive Time, Sorcerer, Arabian Nights, Medieval Madness, and No Good Gofers.
The layout of the game is very simple. You can enter the arcade and immediately have access to all of the 13 tables from the start. Some tables require a credit to be played, others are free. You start off with 20 credits and can earn more by achieving special goals and accomplishments that each one of these tables feature. Furthermore, you can even unlock certain table cheats. But of course, the ultimate goal is to earn a massively high score and have your friends attempt to beat it. And in order to get your friends in on the fun, you'll need to have them all in your room. Up to four can compete in a round-robin competition, where players take turns beating the previous player's score. A Williams Challenge mode is also set up for you to take on the scores of all the tables in the game, earn challenge points, and climb up in the online leaderboard ranks.
All in all, Pinball Hall of Fame makes for a great trip down memory lane and for the pinball fan, it's a worthwhile purchase. But I must address one little gripe I have with this compilation. I can't help but feel that perhaps this would've been a great addition to the PlayStation Store, as opposed to a $40 Blu-ray disc. On that note, perhaps $40 is a bit too costly, seeing as how the PlayStation 2, PSP, and Wii games were only $20 when they launched. Although, I will note that at Amazon.com the game retails for $30, which is definitely a much nicer price.
As far as the visuals and sound go, Williams Collection offers all of the sights and sounds of the original tables, perfectly translated into a virtual recreation. Developer FarSight actually made scans of every table and modeled them with the utmost precision for unrivaled authenticity. Furthermore, thanks to its amazing game engine, the physics of the pinball are spot-on, in addition to everything being animated at a flawless 60 frames per second - which should assure you of encountering no hitches. The same care that went into developing the graphics also went into recreating the sound of each table as faithfully as possible. Even the raspy sounds of the mocking voices have been recreated with absolute perfection - it's quite refreshing. There is an 80s themed soundtrack in the game, but it's not particularly good, and can be turned off. Custom soundtracks would've been awesome here.
At the end of the day, it's hard not to like Pinball Hall of Fame. It offers a splendid assortment of pinball tables, with a superb game engine that boasts great physics, runs at 60 frames per second, can render at 1080p, includes flawless recreations of the original tables, and boasts sound bits directly from the original pinball machines. I would've liked to see this on the PlayStation Store and a bit cheaper, but if Amazon.com's price of $29.99 is permanent, go grab it there if you want this!
10/13/2009 Arnold Katayev