Well, the game has been in my house for over 4 weeks, has hundreds of plays, as well as went through an intense evening of play during our Launch Party for it. Here is where I'm at with it. I'm leading off with the negatives just to be fair and not seem like a cheerleader, and these are constructive points. I believe ALL the negatives can be fixed or addressed.
The Bad (nothing terrible):
-Definitely not enough light in a zero light room. I added 2 spotlights to the game. In a lineup of all new games, mostly new Sterns, Full Throttle appears dark. This is probably not unlike the issues with WOZ being underlit and how it appears sitting next to a Star Trek. I would hope the goal for any new game would be that it needs zero external light. So the options presently are turn a light on in the room or add some extra lighting. For all the criticism Stern gets about lack of this or that, they do lighting really well. They are the standard and their machines are everywhere so I'd be testing how my game looked when sitting next to it.
-"Did they tell you some assembly was required?" - this was a joke a friend of mine made the day it showed up, since we came across some loose screws, an outlane post that slid around. In addition I've had:
-Start button was registering phantom hits, this went away reseating the connections (likely loose).
-I also had to make some adjustments to the left outlane loop to prevent cheap ball drains from returns from the ramp.
-Motorcycle toy came unscrewed from it's "wheelie" swivel and fell apart. I was able to put it back together.
-Pop bumper leaf switch gaps way too far apart, the pops had no action. Was able to fix this with needle nose pliers.
-Sling shot leaf switch gaps way too far apart. Only fired for strong direct hits. Was able to fix this with needle nose pliers.
-Valentino had a screw attaching him that either broke or fell off or something, so he didn't spin at all (even though his programming is yet to come). I happened to find a spare screw in the cabinet that fit his base and was able to tighten him to his gear so he rotates again (randomly).
None of this was terrible and easily fixed, but could be tightened up at the factory.
-LCD could use more animation and excitement. The animations that are there are good, the racing for example, but "Ball Saved" is just the text "Ball Saved" that appears, with no flourishments. There is an audio call out "I'll get another bike for you" or something similar, so why not take advantage of that and tie it with an animation.
-Same goes for pop bumper animations, there are none. I think of the pistons firing on Metallica, showing your points, or on Walking Dead the zombies busting the door down or eating that guy. On Full Throttle the pops are important for revving your engine and shifting gears, but all you get is the needle moving up a notch. Maybe even something like an effect of the tachometer "bulging" or popping out, or doing something to highlight your pops and add excitement.
-Things like the bonus count have a nice guitar riff going on, but the text is flaccid and boring. Overall I'd love to see more text effects. The Walking Dead has bodies dropping while the bonus builds, and that is dmd. So why can't we get cool exciting LCD animations for bonus building?
-The initial engine rev when you launch your ball is very loud. I think this is good at a show or location, to bring attention to the machine, but in a home environment it stops me from turning the audio very loud to enjoy the rest of the game, because that rev just fills the whole house. I'd like to see that mixed down, or alternatively add a software adjustment to override it depending on the environment.
-The dashboard that sits on the screen most of the time is kind of plain. Yes, the information it has is good, but it could really be amped up with some more polish. Both in appearance, and effects, like numbers jumping out, particle effects, explosions, who knows. Again if I compare it with an existing Stern DMD, scores on the dmd have a little bit of animation to them, the fonts are animated, there is that line effect that runs through them. All of that adds life to the display.
-The game shoots awesome. The geometry is rock solid. I commend Dave Sanders on his first game. He will be a force to be reckoned with in coming years as he matures as a game designer. Almost all the shots can be backhanded easily and all of them flow really nicely.
-Visitors have all enjoyed it and feedback has been real good.
-It is a super fast game, but satisfying. I often think of Tron in this regard, not a ton of modes, all easily started, but you still feel good if you have a 5 minute game.
-1 month later and ZERO critical issues that have kept the game dark or unplayable! For the first machine out of a brand new factory!
-Light show, music and sounds are all excellent and very immersive.
-Game feels super solid, I often will ask pinheads to grab the apron to lift it, just to demonstrate how solid and reinforced it is, and they are always impressed.
-I don't see a lot of dimples, so the wood/clear seems solid. I know much has been said about this in the past, but compared to Star Trek which started showing dimples right away I'm just not seeing them on Full Throttle.
-The glass magazine is a winner. People are caught up with the width of the bezel, but that really has no affect on visibility of the playfield, and it is really convenient to lift the playfield up. Not to mention all the possibilities that will open up for pinheads in tight spaces, now that they don't need 3 feet of clearance in front of the machine. I also like that the magazine saves the glass from grubby finger prints that you normally get lifting glass. Also the protection of not putting a glass edge against the floor when propped up.
I'm super happy with the game. I don't mean to make this a huge negative list, it is me trying to be constructive and honest. As I said, just about everything on this list can be fixed and really are minor compared to all the things that could go wrong with pinball.
I took a chance ordering it first, but I was excited to be involved with a new company doing something different. I respected Heighway's business model of not crowdfunding, that he and his investors were confident enough and saw something, that made me hopeful. I also knew if the game wasn't totally awesome, it was the entry point for me with the Heighway cabinet system and I'd be getting more playfields down the road.