After publishing a number of excellent pinball games that they developed in-house, 21st Century Entertainment decided to outsource the development to a third party company, in this case UDS of Sweden. The result? A thoroughly average pinball game that does no justice to 21st Century's early classics. Pinball pro Martin Mathis says it all in his review: |
"Absolute was designed by UDS - Unique Development Sweden - a growing company that got its start in the Atari world. It features four different tables whose themes - Paris- Dakar rally, Hollywood, deep sea, baseball - are not entirely original but sufficiently different from what has been done before. The 2D scrolling planview can be employed in three VGA and two VESA resolutions: 320x240, 360x270, 320x400, 640x480 and 480x640. The last one is called "VESA Flip" and rotates the tables 90 degrees. This is the only non-scrolling display but requires the monitor to be put on its side. A clever idea, but how many people really feel comfortable doing this each time? Unfortunately then, the next best and preferred resolution is the scrolling "VESA Norm" which manages to display about 2/3 of a table at a time. Space is taken up by the dot-matrix display situated at the bottom end of the tables. Absolute supports up to 8 players. All games are 5-ball play with the top 5 scores being recorded. Highscores can be reset but default back to annoying preset scores. Tables can be nudged left, right and up, tilt seems to be rather insensitive. Screen resolutions can be switched on-the-fly via keys 1-4. All keys are set and can't be customized. However, Absolute considerately supports the Thrustmaster Pinball Wizzard (even in DOS) and the Philips Virtual Pinball Controllers (which I do not own). The only other available game option aside from sound volume is a seperate resolution for multiball play. Multiball here is rather unexciting and anyway, why bother? Why wouldn't I already play in the most optimal resolution during single ball? Various video modes are featured that involve the usual games of hand-eye coordination skills. A lot of effort has been put into the enjoyable dot-matrix animations.
Quality-wise, Absolute falls somewhere in between the likes of Pinball Fantasies and Pinball Illusions with a hint of Psycho Pinball. It's got crisper graphics, more complex layouts and more advanced features than the dated Fantasies but doesn't top the non-scrolling Pinball Illusions (still the best 21st game, IMHO) in either originality, excitement or ball physics. I'm especially disappointed in the physics again. The ball generally moves softly and slowly, unnatural for a steel ball, making gameplay somewhat unnerving and boring soon. In the flipper area it gets downright annoying. The slingshots are somewhat set back, exposing a piece of the in-lane rails to direct hits where the ball bounces off too hard and usually arches outside the reach of the flippers - it's right there but you can't reach it and have to wait for the trajectory to complete. Also, unless the ball directly hits the pivot, it can't be stopped and cradled, it rolls right off the flippers. An absolute faux-pas for something that wants to be called a simulation and advertises "authentic ball movement to perfection" on the box. Sound-wise, both the effects and the background tunes are marginal.
Absolute is mediocre, more-of-the-same, nothing new or to be excited about. However, it is a bargain and doesn't require the most state-of- the-art system. The four tables bear many similarities although they also have their uniquenesses. The point can be argued again if it is necessary to provide "multiple tables for your money". To me, in the end, it still feels like I am playing a single game and this one doesn't have near the intensity of StarPlay's pinball sims or the Pro Pinball series. Quantity doesn't replace quality but it can make you feel a bit better."
Reviewed by: Underdogs