Some things are just inevitable. It’s inevitable that I will die with a stack of unread books near me, it is inevitable that Rush will stop making new music at some point, and it is inevitable that humanity’s reign on Earth will come to an end at the hands on intelligent apes, zombies, or intelligent zombie apes, and that none of them will read or listen to Rush. But not all inevitabilities are so dire. Take this one: With Marvel releasing the movie Avengers Age Of Ultron on May 1st, it was inevitable that Zen Studios would make a Avengers Age Of Ultron table for Zen Pinball 2 (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita, Mac), Pinball FX 2 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC), Zen Pinball (iOS), Zen Pinball HD (Android, Amazon), and, at some point soon, Zen Pinball 2 on the WiiU.
For those unfamiliar with the different versions of this game, all of which are basically the same, Zen Pinball 2 and the rest are free pinball games where you only pay for the tables you want (though they all come with a free one). But unlike other pinball video games, which are either accurate recreations of real tables (The Pinball Arcade) or completely cartoonish (Pinball Rocks), the tables for Pinball FX 2 and friends mix accurate physics and sound effects with complex gameplay mechanics that would either be physically impossible or financially irresponsible to make in real life. In the case of the Avengers Age Of Ultron table, for instance, this has what looks like an expensive Black Widow action figure duking it out with another detailed toy.
But not all of Zen’s tables are created equal. Or even similarly. Though they do often have some common themes. As with many of Zen’s recent tables, for instance, Avengers Age Of Ultron is fairly uncomplicated, especially in the lower half, which gives the ball plenty of room to move. In fact, while there is a lone flipper in the top part, it’s so out of the way that you might not even notice it at first; I didn’t until my third game. As a result, this is yet another of Zen’s fast moving pinball machines.
The Avengers Age Of Ultron table also shares a trait with the Guardians Of The Galaxy one in that it starts with a quick bit of multiball. Except that this is where the Ultron table starts to differentiate itself, and not just by having the multiball be just two balls while Guardians was five. No, what makes it different is that this opening multiball is optional. When you start playing the table, you can either begin with this short multiball moment, or you can opt out of it. Which is why, even though I said in my review of the Guardians table that this mechanic was unique, but I hoped it stayed that way, I now admit I was wrong, as it works well here, too. Though it does help that they’ve only done this trick on two tables so far, and that Zen’s released a half dozen tables in the interim between the Guardians and Ultron tables. And that this isn’t the only time you’ll have more than one ball to flip around on Ultron.
The Avengers Age Of Ultron table is also, thankfully, different from the Avengers table Zen made for the 2012 movie. Which is not to say that table was bad, or that this one is; quite the contrary. Instead, I’m just glad they didn’t rehash that table, or its unique mechanic, which let you play with ball versions of Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor, or The Hulk (though those colored balls do make an appearance here).
Of course, as is the case with every table for Zen Pinball 2 and friends, Avengers Age of Ultron has an issue with its messaging. If you play it on console, and sit at a reasonable distance from your TV, you might have trouble reading any of the text boxes that pop up when you’re about to beat your high score. But seeing as these messages are, at best, unimportant, and, at worst, distracting, the inability to read them mid-game isn’t a huge detriment.
The Avengers Age Of Ultron table also has a problem that’s plagued many of Zen’s movie-inspired pinball machines: sound-a-like voice actors who sound nothing like the actors they’re supposed to sound like. Black Widow sounds more like co-star Cobie Smulders than Scarlett Johansson, Thor sounds more like a skinny British dude than a buff Australian, while the rest are so non-descript that I’m not sure who was Captain America, who was Hawkeye, and who was Bruce Banner.
The exception, and it’s a big one, is Iron Man, who sounds so much like Robert Downy, Jr. that I thought it actually was him at first. And second. And third. Not that any of this takes away from the table’s fun factor.
In the end, the Avengers Age Of Ultron is yet another strong table for Pinball FX 2 and the rest. Fast, fun, and a good test of your reflexes, it joins the ranks of Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return Of The Jedi ad the aforementioned Guardians Of The Galaxy installments among their best cinematically-inspired pinball tables. I just hope Zen do as good of a job when they inevitably make their Ant-Man and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed tables.