I'm posting my review of a recent poker video game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox here. I'm writing video game reviews weekly for the newspaper now, hoping to syndicate them. I'm nothing if not an entreprenuer (even if I might not be able to spell the word.)
By Johnny Kampis
If you have World Championship Poker in your hand it’s best to fold, because the poker simulation from Crave Entertainment is about as good as a busted straight draw.
The game for PlayStation 2 and Xbox offers a variety of poker games to play, from the most common forms like Texas hold’em to the seldom seen Pineapple, but only a few ways in which to play them.
Capitalizing on the popularity of poker on television, the game takes players from the shores of a tropical island to the basement of a seedy casino in one-table or multiple table tournaments. Players sit six to a table like those tournaments you might view on the World Poker Tour and the graphics used to show the hands are modeled after those on the WPT. The arrangement is not very realistic, since actual tournaments start out with nine or 10 players at a table and only when there are six players left will there be so few players at a table.
You start out with a modest bankroll and can only enter smaller tournaments initially. By playing these, you unlock other tournaments and by placing high in the games you can build your bankroll and begin entering bigger buy-in tournaments, ultimately attempting to be the world poker champion.
This is essentially it. You play tournaments against the same set of goofy looking characters in the same locations over and over. The artificial intelligence of the computer characters is lacking too. They make awfully strange plays sometimes. The tournaments are fast moving, usually taking about an hour to play, so the action doesn’t get bogged down. What doesn’t make sense is that after you are eliminated you can’t skip the end of the tournament and must let the tournament run its course.
The one saving grace of the game is the ability to play online against other gamers, but better action can be found for free on online poker Web sites. The game also has a suggested retail price of only $20.
Graphics get 2 aces. The characters look deformed. The background scenes, such as water lapping onto the shores of a tropical beach, don’t look very realistic.
Sound gets 1.5 aces. The announcer repeats the same clichés too many times. The background music doesn’t add much to the action. When you go all-in, the game recreates the sound of your heart pumping.
Control gets 2.5 aces. There’s not much to control in the game. You can call, raise or fold. Prior to beginning the tournament circuit, you can create your character, deciding everything from skin tone to facial hair to the type of hat and sunglasses you will wear. This is probably the most entertaining aspect of the game.
Overall, World Championship Poker merits 1.5 aces. You’re better off seeking the Web or some of your buddies if you want to play a good game of poker.
The game is rated E for everyone.