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“System Shock Pinball” for “Pinball M” And “Pinball FX” Review


Released in 1994, the cyberpunk sci-fi first-person shooter System Shock has since become one of the most influential games of the last thirty years. Not only did it inspire numerous spiritual successors (BioShock, Thief) and other sci-fi shooters (Half-Life, Deus Ex), but also third-person games in the stealth action (Metal Gear Solid) and survival horror genres (Resident Evil).

And yet, it is considered more a cult curiosity than a known classic among many gamers, especially those who didn’t play it when it came out…or weren’t alive at the time.

Which makes it all the more curious, and a pleasant surprise, that System Shock is being honored by the good people at Zen Studios with the release of System Shock Pinball, an add-on for their games Pinball M and Pinball FX (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, Switch, PC).

Doubly so since the table is as ’90s as the original game.

System Shock Pinball

For those unfamiliar…

with Zen Studio’s original pinball tables — video game-related and otherwise — they all present an interesting and engaging mix of realistic physics and unrealistic mechanics. While the balls move like they’re really metal spheres on flat surfaces, they usually have some accoutrements that would be physically and / or financially impossible.

In the case of the System Shock Pinball table, for instance, it has the game’s nameless, gun-totin’ hacker walking up and down the side, almost like if someone had the technical skills, and the financial wherewithal, to make an animatronic action figure just for a pinball table.

As for the tables Zen makes based on games, movies, and other things, they also use elements of the thing they’re honoring, though always in a way that makes for fun pinball tables.

It’s why you need not to be a fan of The Thing, the Chucky movies, or the Duke Nukem games to enjoy the previous Pinball M tables, but will enjoy them even more if you are.

As for the System Shock Pinball table,

what makes it unique among Zen’s other game-related pinball machines is that, like the ’90s from whence the original came, this table is rather excessive, albeit in an interesting way.

Unlike most pinball tables, which have two flippers at the bottom, and maybe a third on the side, the System Shock Pinball table has a whopping six flippers. Along with the two bottom ones, it has four in the upper part, three of which are right side ones.

System Shock Pinball

Further adding to the table’s complexity,

the top half of the table is multi-leveled, and dense with alleyways, spinners, hidden passageways, and bumpers.

As a result, it’s not only one of the busiest tables Zen have ever made, it’s also one of the most unpredictable. There are many directions the ball can come from, and they often do so in a way that would seem random if it wasn’t a pinball table that adheres to the laws of physics.

Well, ball physics, that is.

Being so excessive isn’t the only way the System Shock Pinball table is very ’90s, though. Some of the visuals recall the game (of course), while some of the sound effects are intentionally low-res, like they would’ve been had Midway or Williams made a real System Shock pinball table in 1994.

All of which makes…

the System Shock Pinball table a true homage to that iconic shooter, as well as a nicely challenging pinball table that can be enjoyed by people who’ve never played the game.

In fact, the only bummer about the System Shock Pinball table is the lack of multiball. Or rather, the lack of excessive multiball. Unlike Zen’s Alien: Isolation table, or the “Champions” table in Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack, the System Shock Pinball table is not especially prone to making you contend with multiple balls at the same time, despite the table’s inherent busy-ness and unpredictability making it seem like a table that would benefit from this excessive behavior.

System Shock Pinball

No matter,

the System Shock Pinball table is still a really fun addition to Pinball M, regardless of whether you’re a fan of the iconic original game, someone who’s only enjoyed its influence, or just a fan of pinball looking for a new table to conquer.

SCORE: 8.0/10



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