The original Pinball HD was very much a showcase app for iPad - packed with great-looking graphics and smooth gameplay, but sadly lacking in substance.
Sure, the tables looked great, but as a pinball fan I found the structure of all but one table painfully easy to rinse clean, with special bonuses and multi-balls so easy to hit that I had to deliberately fail to make the game stop.
With War Pinball, developer Gameprom has almost gone in completely the opposite direction, offering up three tables based on classic war films that, in one way or another, keep their bonuses only for those with skill.
This new level of difficulty is best demonstrated on the Platoon table. There's a huge open space (reserved for multi-ball bunker busting section) at the bottom of the board that requires tough, angled shots should you want to reach the bonus-heavy upper section.
The scoring system is interesting, playing on the idea of a yearly tour of duty, with bonuses nudging the calendar at the top a few days forward - although it requires a fair amount of practice to get past even January.
Next is Navy Seals, which requires precise aiming in order to amass a score anywhere near respectable. Unlike the similar Missing in Action table, Navy Seals retains the positions of the three target chutes and bumpers with every ball, meaning that it becomes exponentially harder and more frustrating to get the missions started as you get closer to your goal.
The final table is the Chuck Norris-inspired Missing in Action, which is the most approachable of the three thanks to a busy layout, relatively painless mission starting requirements, and hilarious model of the actor that starts firing a machine gun once you complete a mission.
It’s fairly forgiving with the shots and, apart from two very hard to see chutes on the sides, there’s little in the way of complicated angles to handle.Lights, camera. Action?
The three tables look and sound fantastic, with samples from the films and artwork that fit the respective sources down to a tee. Better still, the physics are believable and fair, even if they're arguably a tad floaty.
Tilting, however, is still a pain, requiring you to shake your device vigorously to get a response - not the ideal motion for a game that feels right when played on a surface and nigh-on-impossible to pull off when also trying to hold a flipper up.
More worrisome is that two of the three tables are far too linear in terms of the action. You’re forced down the same path to unlock the exciting parts of the board every time you play, with little choice when it comes to your targets.
This does create a sterner set of tables than the last outing, but quicker gameplay and more variation within the tables themselves - or at least a few more fantastical sections like the bunker-busting under-table mini-game as in Platoon - would have made War Pinball more than just a showcase.