Poker Night 2 (Video Game Review)
The original Poker Night at the Inventory brought players to a secret location for exciting poker tournaments against a diverse cast of characters that included Max of the Sam & Max series, Strong Bad from Homestar Runner, Tycho from Penny Arcade and Heavy from the popular Valve shooter Team Fortress 2. Although this game has a nice collection of characters, Poker Night 2 goes all-in with an awesome cast of characters that any gamer can instantly recognize including Brock Samson from The Venture Bros., ClapTrap from Borderlands, Ash Williams from the Evil Dead film series and Sam from Telltale's Sam & Max. The player arrives for the tournament in a limo and is quickly shown around the establishment by Brock before the poker games begin and the formalities are ditched in favor of some of the meanest and funniest cutdowns you've heard in any poker game. Other supporting characters make their appearance in the game including GLaDOS from the Portal series, who manages to throw out as many backhanded compliments as she can, Mad Moxxi from Borderlands 2, who runs the bar in the background and delivers drinks to players to help everyone loosen up, and a few others. Watching the interactions between all of these characters is pretty hilarious and a true joy for fans of their work. Poker Night 2 takes a poker game and gives it a surprisingly good storyline that manages to surpass many big budget release titles.
Poker Night 2 offers two ways to play; classic Texas Hold 'Em challenges players to make the best possible hand with two dealt cards and five community cards for all players to use, while Omaha Hold 'Em uses similar rules with four dealt cards of which two must be used along with three of the five community cards. Few games even offer this variety of game modes, so it's nice to see a poker game that offers something beyond simply Texas Hold 'Em, although it is sure to be the most recognizable and most played mode for the majority of players. Only single player tournaments are accessible in Poker Night 2, which is the game's biggest flaw. Though it would've been nice to player multiplayer matches online or locally against your friends, Poker Night 2 is still a lot of fun and focuses on offering the player plenty of unlockables as the bounty for winning the tournaments increase. Players will win the cash for winning tournaments and in turn increase leaderboards standings, but more importantly bounty items can be won from each of the characters in the game for some nice unlockables, and Inventory chips are won with each tournament win as well that are used to unlock additional tables, cards and chips to further customize and enhance the poker experience. There is a lot of content packed into Poker Night 2, and the game has a lot of replay value despite its low price on downloadable marketplaces.
Poker Night 2 is a fine looking game with each character looking just as you'd expect in the game, although the game will hang up from time to time, as seems to be the case with many Telltale Games titles. The strong narrative receives a tremendous boost from an excellent voice cast that brings in all of the original voice actors for each of the characters with the notable exception of Bruce Campbell as Ash, though his fill-in does a nice job, and Ash will frequently get under your skin just as you'd expect. The actual AI in the game is adapted to help players learn not only poker fundamentals, but players should learn to read the other characters in the game with enough practice. During our time with the game, Brock seemed to be the most aggressive player, especially when he had a good hand, while Sam preferred to play it cool and stick around until the late game. Either way, Poker Night 2 is a really fun title that is perfect if you're looking to find a new way to practice your poker skills. The game also doubles nearly as a DLC pack for some of your favorite games, since playing on Steam unlocks Team Fortress 2 items, playing on PlayStation Network lands you PlayStation Network Premium Themes, playing on Xbox LIVE Arcade nets you some neat Avatar items and all platforms receive in-game content for use in Borderlands 2. Poker Night 2 is a game well worth your time if you're a fan of poker and one of the best ways to learn the game at a comfortable pace.
Poker Night 2 is now available for PlayStation Network for $9.99, PC via Steam for $4.99 and Xbox LIVE Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points. Poker Night 2 is rated M by the ESRB for Violence, Suggestive Themes, Strong Language, Simulated Gambling & Use of Tobacco. For more information on the game, check out the official Poker Night 2 website.
Developer & Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade (reviewed) & PC
Release Date: April 24, 2013