With the heyday of pinball simulations on the PC ping, ping, pinging in my noggin like it was the mid-90s all over again, I really wanted to love Dream Pinball 3D. Forget that its title still hypes the fact that it’s “3D” well over a decade after 3D cards became standard operating equipment. Forget that Future Pinball, a beautiful, well-made pinball sim and table designer, can be downloaded for free from www.futurepinball.com. If Southpeak is charging for this collection of six all-new tables, then it must be pretty special, right?
Not really. To be fair, the asking price is a mere $14.99, but the drab assortment of generically themed tables in Dream Pinball 3D is a major let-down. There’s the listless Knight Tournament, which looks like it was completely designed with medieval clipart; Monsters, an oh-so-creatively titled table about, um, monsters; Dino Wars, the requisite dinosaur board; and Aquatic, a deep-sea diving table with some oddly un-aquatic sound effects (is that a bird cawing?). Somewhat better are Spinning Rotors, a helicopter-themed table equipped with a rotating propeller smack-dab in the middle of it, and Amber Moon, a sword-and-sorcery riff that features a translucent upper mini-table.
Dream Pinball 3D’s worst transgression, however, is its lethargic physics implementation. It’s like every ball is out for a leisurely stroll, limply colliding with bumpers and sensors along the way. And though you may be tempted to turn on graphics settings like glass reflection and light bloom, don’t - the exaggerated effects are far more distracting than they are realistic. Expecting interactive minigames or other technological enhancements to standard pinball? Look elsewhere. In fact, that’s just sound advice for any pinball lover: Look elsewhere.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 38% (Don't Bother)
May 8, 2008