World Poker Tour PS2 Review

Well here’s the opening paragraph and if you’ve read any of the other reviews for this game across the broad scope of the internet you should now be expecting me to tell a great tale of how great the game of poker is. Then I will probably follow that up with the story of how I own a poker table of my very own and then will explain about how I have just bought some chips so all my friends can meet up and play a game every weekend in my basement beneath a dim light. If you were expecting this then prepare to be disappointed as I never have nor probably ever will have the desire to play a real game of poker in my life and I don’t plan on getting addicted any time soon. Fear not though as during the course of the last few years I have learned the basic of the game and know many of the big names of the game. Why? Well that’s simple as one night I was flicking thought the stations on TV and happen upon a station with a guy sitting at a green table with a hoodie pulled over his head and the cords wrapped around it. Intrigued I stayed at the station and when the camera pulled back I found out I was watching poker!

Just as I was about to change the channel, the guy leaped from his seat and ran behind the dealer and starting hunkering down peaking at the cards and waiting for them to be turned. He then started shouting at the cards and shouting at the audience which I though was hilarious until be finally got the hand he wanted and he started to run around the table shouting something until he finally lay down on the ground and started doing sit-ups! From that moment on I decided to watch more poker but found none of the other shows as entraining as the one as I originally watched (which I found out later was World Poker Tour). From that day on I think I watched almost every episode of the show and then declared the guy I watched (which I found out to be called Phil “Unabomber” Laak) to be my own personal hero. Now if only the game can entertain me as much…

Upon first view of the game I was pleasantly surprised as it does a great job of emulation the TV show I know and love. Both Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten make an appearance in the game as does Shana Hiatt which all add up to making it feel like an official game of the show. Texas hold ’em is the game most should be playing upon first look but there are also other versions such as seven-card stud, pinapple, billabong, and double-flop hold ’em among others (I will admit I have never heard of some of these types of games). I had a few goes with most of these other games but always felt myself reverting back to good ol’ Texas Hold ’em

The biggest draw of the single player portion is the well-implemented career mode. You start off on the lower rung of the ladder (known as satellite and super-satellite games). As you continue you will move up the ranks and hopefully into the finals. This is all very well implemented into the game and if you win you fell as though you accomplished something. You also have the option to create your own character for use in career mode which is a nice touch. The create-a-character mode is not as deep as some sports titles but it still contains some good customizable options. You can also buy some new items for you creation as you advance in the game but you don’t buy these items with winnings from tournaments you must earn chips by accomplishing certain feats in the game (such as bluffs, takedowns or playing good hands). I have to admit I found this addition annoying as it would have made more sense to let you spend your own earnings.

Of course a good game of Poker cannot be had without a capable opponent to challenge you and WPT tries its best to give to some challenging matches while playing the single player career mode. The AI in the game is ok, not amazing but it does the job. After a few hours of play I noticed that most of the players in the game do not seem to be very aggressive which ultimately makes some of the matches boring. It is very rare that you will see the computer challenge you by going all in and making huge wild bets to shock you and hope to make you fold but it does happen now and then. Along with this timid play there do seem to be some bugs in the AI which cause it to do weird things. These bugs are very rare but it would have been nice if they were ironed out. There is also the option to play mind games with your competitors via presses of the d-pad (each of the 4 directions can show excitement, satisfaction, depression, or disappointment). This is a nice touch but it is debatable if it changes the decision your competitors are going to make.

The final part of the title to speak about is the games online multiplayer modes. This is probably where you will get the most longevity out of the game as you battle against real opponents. In this mode you can switch between different tables (tournament-style games and sit-and-go). The game also tracks your wins and counts up the virtual cash you are winning. This mode also lets you enable the EyeToy to view your opponent and see if he/she is bluffing. Of course not all people are going to have the camera pointed at their face (as there are many weird and crazy people out there). Thankfully you can turn this feature off if you happen upon one of them

The game is a big time let down in the graphics department and I can honestly say most of the characters, objects, items and pretty much everything thing else on show is a low textured muddled mess. Some of the characters look laughably bad; some of them seem to have a back-from-the-dead look about them which is off-putting. Some of the background environments look alright (with loads of real-life international casinos implemented in the game), but seeing as you will spend less than 5% of your time looking at this – your attention should be on the table and cards – more work could have been done on the other aspects of the game. In terms of audio the game does not fare that well either as Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten’s commentary can start to grate after as little as 10 minutes with the game.

Overall

Seeing as you are reading this review you undoubtedly have access to the internet which means you already have 100’s of sites out there offering you most of the same features the game does. So why should you buy 2K’s WPT game? Well first off if you have ever watched the TV shows then the way this game is presented should please all long term fans. Also I would expect WPT is probably the best recreation of the game of Poker in a long time as it offers some respectable AI along with a very entertaining Career mode and multiplayer modes to please anyone who loves the game of Poker. Finally the title can be picked up for as little as £15 in some stores which won’t put a huge dent in anyone’s savings. All in all WPT is a very well put together game, but when all is said and done it is still only a digital recreation of the game of Poker so don’t expect anything earth-shattering should you choose to give it a go.

7.5 out of 10

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