App Reviewed on: iPad 2G
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Pinball is usually an activity that is enjoyed in solitude, or at least only one player at a time. Rarely ever has there been an experience in the genre that has been tailored to a multiplayer audience. The new title PinWar is looking to do just that, using the extra real estate on the iPad to its advantage. Can this reinvention revive the tired constructs of traditional pinball, or does the gameplay cause a bit too much tilt to appeal to the hardcore?
Pong was a game where players would use paddles to try and smack a ball past their opposition. Take this same concept and replace the paddle with two flippers and the result would be PinWar. Players face off against either an AI or flesh and blood person, to try and sneak balls through the digital five hole. Stage structures and layouts vary greatly from round to round, but the core conceit still boils down to that simple ideal.
But this is far from just a simple head-to-head showdown. In fact, there is a whole mission based campaign that can be enjoyed in either single or multiplayer. Each goal based mission, of which there are from a handful of different objective types, has a unique goal and environment layout. It is interesting to see how these elements can come into play, specifically when having to actually cooperate with the player across the iPad, instead of attempting to break their spirit. This role reversal was an unexpected decision on the part of the developers and should be commended.
PinWar has an art and music style that may strike a chord with fans of the Geometry Wars franchise. The futuristic aesthetic and pulsing beats set a nice backdrop for the insanity that is bound to ensue. If there were one significant area where the game struggled mightily, it would have to be the physics emulation. Unless gravity starts behaving far more erratically in the future, this is far from being even remotely realistic. Though not necessarily a stumbling block, this mediocre aspect of the mechanics certainly took some getting used to.
Multiplayer and pinball have never gone hand-in-hand, but after playing PinWar it’s hard to wonder why it hasn’t happened sooner. Factoring in an insane amount of missions and stage structures to boot, and this is an experience worth pulling the plunger on. Just try not to be too competitive when crushing the opposition. Sometimes sore losers and fragile electronics don’t exactly mix.