Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
ESRB Rating: Mature
Who wants to play some poker? Well, Telltale Games has you covered with the sequel to Poker Night at the Inventory with Poker Night 2. With a different cast of characters invited, Poker Night 2 offers a new challenge and rewards the player with a few surprises. So is Poker Night 2 worth chasing the full house, or should you just fold the pair of ducks away? Ante up, it’s time for the review.
Statistics show 80% of you will lose, and 100% of you will eventually die…Math is fun, isn’t it?
Poker Night 2 follows the same formula as its predecessor, but with new characters “invited” to this game. Brock Samson from The Venture Brothers TV show, Claptrap from the Borderlands franchise, Sam from the Sam & Max series, and Ash from the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness series are players, while GlaDOS from Portal serves as the dealer. Players can choose the type of poker game they wish from Texas Hold ‘em or Omaha. Basic tips and tricks can be accessed at any time for those unfamiliar with either type of game; other than that, however, the player is on their own.
Each game is held in a $20,000 winner-take-all tournament. The game tracks the player’s progression through each game played, keeping track of how many one-on-one showdowns the player won, how many hands the player won, etc. Each statistic shown is tracked through both the current game and the total of previous games played. Controls are simplified to one button commands for checking, calling, and folding, and a slider controlled by the analog stick or directional pad is used for raising the bet. The gameplay itself isn’t very deep, but it’s poker; there isn’t much depth to it anyway…or so it seems.
Never bring a knife to a chainsaw fight, kids
To make things interesting, each character has their own play styles. It’s up to the player to adapt and learn from them, which adds a bit of a challenge. Players earn tokens based on their performance and can trade them in to buy drinks for the competition, making the game easier. As the characters drink more, they reveal their tells.
Also to mix things up in the game, challenges are switched between either random challenges or collectible bounties by one of the characters, such as Ash’s Necronomicon or Sam’s banjo. Performing the challenges successfully gives more tokens, and the bounty rewards the player with a screensaver for their console. The bounties might not change the way a player utilizes their strategy to win, but it does give them extra incentive to win. Challenges can occasionally force a player to use strategy or even cards they might not otherwise use in other games.
With the clever writing and funny dialog between the players and dealer, Poker Night 2 makes it feel like a poker game among friends rather than harsh, silent competition. Jokes are passed around, conversations are made between two or more players, and each character takes turns ribbing the player for folding or losing a hand from time to time. Some dialog and humor might go over the head of players unfamiliar with the character’s source material, though, and the dialog does repeat itself after a while.
That being said, the game looks decent for what is presented. Claptrap, Ash, Sam, and GlaDOS are presented in their standard video game form, while Brock Samson is given his silver screen representation. Players can also change the look of the chips, table, deck of cards, and even the stage’s theme by cashing in tokens to buy them.
Of course you won with THOSE cards, even Steve could’ve won with those cards…And all he can say is “Heyoo”
One of the drawbacks to Poker Night 2 rears its head when auto-saving on consoles. While the game is saving in the middle of hands, audio will start skipping or gameplay will slowdown altogether. It becomes annoying if you as the player think something may have happened to cause the game to freeze or when a character develops a stutter out of nowhere. Speaking of that dialog, with enough games and time, dialog will become repetitive, and eventually, the player just starts blocking out the audio.
This isn’t to say Poker Night 2 is a bad game at all. On a technical level, only a few issues like those pop up, but it’s only a poker game. Poker Night 2 gives fan service to the characters involved with the well-written dialog and the unlockable themes. Those that love playing the game of Texas Hold ‘Em or Omaha should find this a fine experience for what is offered, and can even get a little practice out of it for future games among friends or strangers.
Final Verdict: Poker Night 2 gets 6 royal flushes out of 10
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Poker Night 2 developed and published by Telltale Games