Although HR Giger may not be a household name, his artwork and its effect on the look and feel of the Alien movies and games certainly is. There is something about the black, brooding, biomechanical style of the Xenomorphs which have captured the imagination of fans since the 1970s and they have now become the inspiration for three new themed tables for the hugely popular pinball game, Pinball FX 2.
Adding to its impressive array of tables, the Aliens vs Pinball pack features three tables based on the Aliens and Aliens vs Predator movies as well as the recent game, Alien Isolation. As with other themed tables for Pinball FX 2, each one is highly detailed and feature missions, mini games, social features and voiceovers from the original cast.
The first table is based in the 1986 film Aliens and features Ellen Ripley and the Colonial Marines entering and investigating the terraforming colony Hadley's Hope. When you start a game, you have a chance to choose whether you want to play through them randomly, as with most tables, or in film order, starting with locating Newt. It's a nice idea and adds to the difficulty of the game. The table is well laid out and features the APC, queen alien and Ripley models acting out action as you play. The table upgrades are themed around the characters of the film and give bonuses accordingly. For example, lighting the HUDSON targets (Hudson being the USCM technician in the film) increases your score against the alien targets.
The Aliens vs Predator table puts you in the position of a young Yautja warrior, on the hunt for aliens. It has a slightly busier feel to it than the Aliens table and is styled in a mix of Predator technology and Aztec ruins from the film. There are a number of unique table features including mission timers being paused while in the bumper area and a selectable kickback which is highly effective during multi-ball.
The final table is based on the Sevastopol Space Station from the 2014 game, Alien: Isolation. As in the game, you play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of Aliens protagonist Ellen, trying to evade a single alien Xenomorph, with missions about avoiding the creature and recovering from any bruising encounters that you may have. Although a pinball tables based on a stealth horror game could be considered very strange, it works very well as a theme. As with the other tables, is well laid out with an open, spacious feel to it. As you play, models of Amanda and the alien move around the table, coming to blows as you play the game. It's nice to have this kind of action but, due to the way they move about the table, it can be quite distracting.
As with previous table packs, Aliens vs Pinball is a solid set — well-crafted, beautifully detailed, well laid-out and offering missions and visuals that the makers of real pinball tables could only dream of. The missions are well balanced and provide enough of a challenge to keep both hardcore and casual players engaged. Whether you are a fan of the Alien films and games, Pinball FX or both, Aliens vs Pinball is a worthy addition to any table collection.
• Game reviewed on Xbox One