Warning, Long Post
Ok I finally received my Walking Dead LE about a week ago and have been playing on it as much as possible ever since. Leading up to receiving my game I have been anxiously reading each of the posts that detailed the games perceived strengths and weaknesses, with many of these posts being written by who had not yet actually played the game but who had watched videos of the game etc.
I have to admit that for a few moments I wondered if I had made the right decision to purchase this expensive game but I decided that I still liked the theme, the amazing art work in the cabinet and playfield as well as the included features in the LE so I kept my order in hopes that this pin would be a good one.
After having the game nearly a week now I wanted to quickly write and give you my thoughts. After living with, inspecting closely and playing with this pinball as much as possible I have to say that it was probably the best pinball purchase I have made in all my years of collecting pinball machines.
All the voice work complaints that I was so worried about before are truly not a big deal after playing the game for me because the voice work that was done actually relates directly to the series and the situations that tie the pin game play to the series. Also the voices sound very much like the real actors.....I know that many have said that this is not true however I love the series and those who say otherwise are not giving the voice work enough credit. This game more so than most other recent titles, is very engaging and brings you in to the game play and does not let you go. More so than most of my other pins this game has kept me engaged at a much deeper level.
The game play and flow was surprisingly smooth with long ball throws around the playfield. The game play is precise and it is obvious that great effort and planning was taken to make sure the flow was optimized as shots are smooth with both the orbit and ramp shots flowing and working very well. The game play is indeed fast but not too fast as some have said. The flow reminds me of my Tron LE or Spider Man.
The balls flow through the pop bumper area smoothly and better than any other machines pops that I have played. In fact the pop bumper and rollover switch areas of the upper right side of the playfield give the player some new unique ball movements that flip and spin the ball around the ramps of the area different and more entertaining than in others games where the balls sometime seem to get stuck too long in the pop bumpers with no real visual payout. Something better to understand once you play this game.
Speaking of flips and spins, the additional magnets, additional flip-up ramp on the bicycle girl ramp, the additional drop target, spinner and crossbow with magnetic diverter on the LE are amazing and greatly add to the game play, making me glad I got the LE, that being said the Pro models game play is still amazing and these additions are not a must have to make the game great. The giant well walker is actually not too big as some have said but is actually designed, sized and placed very well. I would like better longer Views of the lighted Guts area when the Well Walker flips back as in game play it flips back down (closed) so quickly you cannot see the guts very easily but overall it is designed well and does not look like a cheap add in.
Regarding the Well Walker, the shots from the flippers do not overly hit the Well Walker as I expected. You can easily shoot around it if you want and shots to it do not slow the flow like I would have thought. I was also excited to see that ramps on both sides of the playfield were able to be reached by each flipper which makes the game play that much more interesting.
The artwork was better than I expected, the Back Glass draws your eye and is very well done. The cabinet of the LE is much more timeless in my opinion than the Pro with its "Dead Inside" boarded up box look however the Pro Cabinet is still awesome with the actors and Rick pointing his revolver! Very cool. As far as the lighting, the combination of multi colored LED playfield lighting along with Red GI Lighting was exceptional! I had heard and read complaints that the GI lighting was too red on the LE model. Those claims are absolutely ridiculous! The light balance is outstanding. The pro model white lighting is great also but the LE brings it to a new better level. There is a great balance of multiple colors in the playfield and the GI lighting brings the feel of this game more in line with the more serious but fun theme. Having it side by side with many other pins the lighting blends in very well and the only changes I will be making are to better illuminate the bicycle girl under ramp area a bit better with a Pinball Refinery kit as well as additional high light lighting on the Well Walker and Woodbury area. I cannot help but tinker with each of my pins with mods here and there but if I did nothing at all the lighting ont the LE would be exceptional.
The extensive high quality sounds and amazing music of this machine bring you in to the game play in a way similar to but even better than in Tron. The Dot Matrix display work that was done on the Walking Dead pin has got to be award winning and I would say some of the best Dot Matrix work on any machine that I have played! I am amazed that the team that did this work was able to get so much detail and animation into this game with DOT matrix limitations, well done whoever you are!
Although the prices on these machines are getting absolutely ridiculously high and it is unfortunate as so many people are unable to enjoy this hobby because of this, I am very glad to have purchased this machine and I realize how blessed I am to be able to do so. I have what my wife would call a pinball collecting problem You know you have an amazing pin that will stay in your collection when after playing it for hours you cannot wait to go back and play it again. That is exactly the case with Sterns The Walking Dead LE.
If you have a chance to get some play time or better yet own one of these great machines I would jump on the chance.
As far as mods for this machine, I am planning on adding the Stern produced fish tank topper, the bloody armor, the walker head plunger, the inner sidewall decals and I am also adding the Pinball Refinery bicycle girl lighting improvement, the well walker lighting improvement and the Woodbury lighting mods. I am also adding a Stern Shaker motor as well as a couple of the small series character figures to my machine.