If you would have told me five to six years ago that one of the currents fads in our country was an obsession with poker, I would have said you were crazy. However, Poker now is quickly becoming a national watched sporting event, and is being seen more and more on television. And with that we are even starting to have some of the best pro’s become household names. With this new excitement of course comes new videos and one of the most recent poker games comes from Activision and is World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions for the 360. So does this game take poker to the next generation? Read our full review to find out!
Really you don’t have to watch poker on TV to really appreciate what a video game based on the sport is trying to accomplish. One of the big hurdles any developer has to overcome when creating a game like this is making this a more worthwhile experience, compared to any other free arcade game that someone could go on the internet and play for hours. This is one of the big reasons why you don’t see a lot of card games because there is such high competition with the arcade market that definitely dampens the demand for a full on poker experience.
With that being said, let’s talk about World Series of Poker, which first and foremost is much deeper than any freebie or even inexpensive arcade poker game. One of the first examples of this is the career mode, which although is rich with options, is actually kind of a letdown. Basically the career mode has you create a character (having the ability to use your Xbox Vision Camera for face cameo is available) and then take him/her on their very own poker career. Now of course the game starts off with some lower prize money casinos, and then as you progress you obviously work your way up the ladder and compete for bigger prizes. The biggest problem with the career mode is that the game gives little to no incentive to go through this mode. Beyond that, the structure of the mode just seems so run of the mill that there was really no effort in making it any different or interesting that your standard career mode.
Another big aspect of any poker game is the way you interact via the interface and menu systems to play the game. Everything in this area is top notch, although nothing is really out of the ordinary either. The game manages to keep things very much on the simple side, by managing to really allow you to pre-choose your move before it even comes to your cards, which does help keep the pace from dragging. And finally the computer AI which I played with for hours seemed really consistent and quite good. The AI, depending on the player, ranged from ultra risky to ultra conservative and everywhere in between, which kept the game very interesting offline.
Online gameplay is really the main ingredient however for any poker game, as there is nothing that can reproduce playing against real life players, and with the Xbox Vision Cameras it does even add more personality to the experience. Let’s just say it’s nice seeing the face of who you just made walk off the table. The online play is nearly perfect for my experiences online, with only a few times getting booted from games for no reason. The games online can be extremely competitive, and for poker fans out there your really going to dig this.
World Series of Poker actually in a lot of ways impressed me, however this was more online than offline. I think had the developers been a tad bit more creative with their career mode, we could have seen that extra replay value that would have been nice for times you don’t want to deal with the smack talking online, which can be plentiful. In the end, World Series of Poker plays like a good solid poker game, nothing more, nothing less.
Visually, I have to say that World Series of Poker is really a mixed bag. First off, the character models could have really used some work as they really feel like an Xbox 1.5 sort of game, in that they are not what we would expect on the 360. But it is a tad bit better than what you would expect to see on the Xbox. On the other hand, you do have some extremely nice environments, with a great deal of detail and just a great all around poker feel.
World Series of Poker was a game that I really went back and forth with throughout the review process. On one hand, it really does accomplish everything it came on the market to accomplish. On the other hand, this is a game that’s career mode was really quite bland, and besides the inclusion of Xbox Vision Camera, there really wasn’t anything else new to the poker experience. In the end, World Series of Poker is a fun poker game to play, but it definitely leaves room for improvement.
You basically are getting what you are paying for with World Series of Poker, which is both a good and bad statement. On one hand, the game does lack its own unique feel, but on the other you are getting a working poker game that has great online play and so-so offline play. Fans of poker should really think about renting this game, as I think that will be plenty of time to get in your poker fix.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.