Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Pinball Hall of Fame: Williams Collection (Playstation 3)

You might have a strong sense of déjà vu looking at this, since this is the third edition of this game we've reviewed. This time, the classic pin collection comes to the PS3 with HD graphics, several new tables and not much else. The visual upgrades are good, and make this game the best looking yet. Several additional titles have been added from previous versions, making a total of 13 available tables in all. Aside from this, it's almost identical to earlier editions, with a similar interface, token system and tournaments. So while its good for what it offers, those who played previous versions will probably want to wait until this Williams Collection gets a little cheaper.

With 13 classic pinball titles including such legendary tables as Space Shuttle, Pinbot, Fun House, Firepower, and Black Knight, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection offers a solid compilation of challenging machines. This time around, the PS3 edition includes three machines not found in earlier compilations: Medieval Madness, Tales of the Arabian Knights and No Good Gophers. You start by exploring a virtual arcade and select which machine you want to play. Some machines are initially unlocked for free play, though you can earn more by winning credits and unlocking their free-play mode. After this, you can choose from several options including number of players, balls and overall difficulty. As you gain high scores and win tournaments, other options, such as reverse fields are unlocked as well. Other options include enabling the glass reflections and selecting the background arcade music levles. Each of the pinball tables in this collection offers a bevy of different strategies and layouts with different targets and objectives for each. Before you begin playing, you can view a quick tutorial which shows you the key locations of big points targets and explains how to unlock secrets such as multi-ball modes for each table. When the player has completed this introductory sequence, it's time to go play and use their accumulated credits to begin.

While previous versions of the game offered excellent virtual versions of these pins, the new HD visuals are really impressive and allow you to see even the smallest details of each machine's layout. The games seem to pop off the screen and the multiple camera angles are generally effective in giving you a decent view on the action. The sounds have also been authentically recreated as well, with all the buzzing and bleeping of the original tables faithfully recreated. You can especially appreciate the level of detail in the imaginative designs of machines like Dark Knight and Medievel Madness, with their elaborate multi-tiered boards and challenging target layouts making them fun yet addictive to play. Atmospheric sound effects and arcade ambience enhance the mood which makes you feel like you are playing an actual pinball machine on a long-ago Saturday night, which is really cool. Hall of Fame's excellent ball physics and responsiveness allows players to use classic techniques such as use of body-english and flipper maneuvering and ball trapping which gives you added control. However, don't use these too much or you might tilt the machine. Using the PS3 dual shock allows for an effective force feedback system that lets you feel the balls as they hit various objects. Players can choose to use either the upper or lower shift keys as flippers, which makes for an intuitive and easy to learn game.

The game's immediate appeal is also due in large part to its well-known tables, some of which like Black Knight are probably firmly imprinted on players' memories, along with the legendary PinBot, which was immortalized in a memorable NES release many years ago. The lesser known tables also provide plenty of play action, with the simple play of early titles like Firepower and Sorceror contrasting with the more complicated, mutli-tiered tables such as Fun House and or Space Shuttle. Playing the simpler games like Gorgar is good practice for the more complicated ones. Most of these should be familiar to those who played earlier Williams comps, but the new tables are loads of fun, with Medievel Madness making a good kind of follow-up to Black Knight, with more elaborate layout and digitized voices adding to the fun. Some tables require more concentration and skill, while others are simpler and more accessible. Regardless of their difficulty, each of the included table play just as brilliantly as you remember and there plenty of challenges, such as points earned or specific targets to hit to keep you playing. While the basic gameplay is fun, there are added goals for each table, such as hitting a specific score or knocking down targets, that give you bonus tokens. You can use the tokens to play other tables that require them, or save them up until you have enough to unlock free play mode where you don't have. There's also a tournament mode that you can play through, where you go through a series of tables and have to meet a specific points total for each. Winning these tournaments unlocks additional special features, such as extra tables and free play modes.

If all of this sounds familiar, then you've probably played some of the previous Williams comps and while the HD upgrades and additional tables are nice additions, the basic gameplay, interface and challenge remains very much the same as previous games. The tables definitely look sharper, but not by enough of a margin to really substantially change the gameplay. It's HUD looks like the previous games, too and this doesn't appear to offer much of an upgrade. While this is an entertaining title, it really doesn't offer much that the previous titles have given players, making it kind of a redundant purchase if you've already played it on PS2 or Wii. It's a nice upgrade to have, but Pinball Hall of Fame: Williams Collection isn't going to be a must-own title unless you don't have the previous editions. Otherwise, we'd advise most players to wait until it gets a bit cheaper down the road.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B-

> Related Reviews

Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection (Wii)
SNK Arcade Classics (Wii)
King of Fighters Collection (Wii)
Metal Slug Anthology (Wii)

Namco Museum Remix (Wii)