There are a slew of new poker video games out on the market and can you believe it – they`ve all been released just in time for the Christmas rush – Xbox, Sony PlayStation, and GameCube all have something to keep us busy for the remainder of what looks to be a long and cold winter. The highly anticipated addition from the World Series of Poker consortium is now available on all three systems.
The World Series of Poker is the single most important tournament around, and Actvision Value set about recreating this prestigious event in the form of a console poker game. The game variations included in the World Series of Poker package are Omaha, Omaha Hi-Low Split, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split, Razz (Seven Stud Lowball), and, of course, the big daddy of poker itself, Texas Hold `em.
Unfortunately in most people’s eyes, the game has failed to deliver in most areas. It has been widely criticized as being comically unrealistic, and despite a massive advertising campaign, the game is failing to move from the shelves as quick as one might expect a product displaying the WSOP logo. After a few moments playing the game, I wholeheartedly understand the complaints.
The first dubious thing I noticed about the game occurred when I entered the Tournament mode. Perhaps in an attempt to make each game as dramatic as possible, the programmers have chosen to include what seems like every player in every hand. This takes away from the authenticity of the game, as every hand is contested and, unlike other games which seem to transport you to a different place, you are always aware that you are merely playing a video game.
The quality of AI invested in the game appears to be questionable as well. The players simply do not react like the best players in the world. Often I encountered very unpredictable behavior by some of these so-called pros. It was not uncommon for an opponent to come in on large raises with two off-suit low cards, continually surprising me with very improbable plays. Of course the majority of people who will buy the game cannot compete with players of world-class caliber, but basic poker strategy becomes skewed and therefore takes away from the accuracy of the game.
Another weak point of the game is the graphics; particularly the representation of real-life pro players. These feature large and undefined blobs and all personal expression is limited to a small number of very strange gestures and expressions; from arm-flapping elation after winning a hand, to exaggerated “sad” faces after losing. None of the subtleties of competitive poker are captured, and you would expect to see some more of the trademark personalities of these poker celebrities on display. Notwithstanding the interface, which displays each hand in a crisp and stylish manner, the graphics are thoroughly disappointing.
Video game reviewer, Joe Rybicki for the U.S. PlayStation Magazine has this to say about the game: “WSOP is so dramatically deficient in just about every way that it’s painfully obvious that this is nothing more than a cynical attempt to cash in on the poker craze. I haven’t seen the other poker games due this year, but I can virtually guarantee they`ll be better”.
So angry is this reviewer that he mentions the name of every poker pro who either endorsed or participated in the games creation, and also rather ironically encourages people to play it so that, due to the misleading representation of the game, he may be given the opportunity to take their money somewhere down the road.
Overall, one expects more from a product with the World Series of Poker’s stamp of approval. You never get the feeling of being a competitor in the greatest poker tournament in world, as its title and license suggest. If it’s just a simple poker game that you are after, then the game is certainly passable, but there are sure to be better poker console games on the horizon.