In order to create a successful PC pinball game, a couple of basic features need to be in place. First, there has to be decent table designs chock full of extra goodies and lots of variety. Second, the physics must be good enough to resemble a real pinball table. While it does have a few flaws, Balls of Steel scores on both counts.
There are five pinball tables including an alien invasion, a medieval theme, and a table featuring the lovable hero, Duke Nukem. Not only is the variety good throughout each, but the tables often contain various goals to accomplish and missions as simple as knocking down a certain object or as complex as defusing a bomb and making sure people flee the building safely that, if completed, will earn you massive points. Add little mini-games that pop-up from time to time via the LCD display, a Space Invaders kind of shooter, and a few other games. Features like this make pinball a blast to play, and Balls of Steel does not disappoint.
Where it falls short of being great is in actual gameplay execution. The two different views you can use each has a downside. One zooms the table very close and scrolls the screen upward. The good -- you can really see the detail featured on the different pinball tables. The bad -- you can't see enough of the table. Your targets and objects are obscured, as are your flippers. The other view is a full screen mode to see the entire table, but in this view, you lose that close-up detail, sticking you between a rock and a hard place until you get comfortable with one of these views. And little things, like not being able to see the table tilt to the left and right, and a hard to control plunger detract from the overall experience.
Still, if you can learn to live with these shortcomings, Balls of Steel is a really enjoyable game with enough class and wit to interest pinball fans wanting tables that offer the extra goodies to keep you coming back for more.
Graphics: While the various pinball tables are nicely detailed, the two camera views might take some time getting used to.
Sound: Standard pinball bloops and bleeps, with some voice-overs, but nothing special.
Enjoyment: If you can look past the camera view and minor control details, Balls of Steel is really a lot of fun, offering some really wacky missions on nicely rendered tables.
Replay Value: There are enough missions and objectives for each table to keep you playing for a long time.
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Addiction Pinball, 3-D Ultra Pinball: Creep Night, 3-D Ultra NASCAR Pinball, Bikini Karate Babes, 3-D Ultra Pinball, Full Tilt! Pinball, Epic Pinball, Atari: 80 Classic Games in One!
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