If I said to you five years ago that five years from now Poker will be televised on ESPN (not ESPN 2) on a high profile slot on the station, and I bet you nine out of ten people would have said I was crazy. Yet right now we are seeing people whose names sound like professional wrestlers taking center stage playing a game of poker. What is funny is with this growing popularity for this sport you have also seen an outpouring of poker video games, and the first of these is out now and it is World Series of Poker for the Playstation 2. Is this game going to help you gain the skills to win your very own World Series of Poker tournament? Read our full review to find out!
Personally I have always loved playing poker, I have been playing poker for most of my life and just have always found it to be a fun game to play on those days where you just didn’t have much to do. It’s just always seemed like a fun way to spend your time. Now with popularity of poker on TV, a lot of my friends who would have never cared a single ounce about the game are suddenly experts on it and want to play. So you can see why Activision jumped on the bandwagon real quick as there are millions of these new poker fans that I am sure are also wanting to play, as well as watch them on TV, so thus this is why we have World Series of Poker.
In World Series of Poker you are given some different games of Poker, which include Texas Hold Em, Omaha Hi-Low Split, Seven Card Stud (as well as High/Low Split) and Razz. So instead of just focusing on one game which has happened before, World Series of Poker does a nice job of giving some different games to play, so you don’t get sick of playing Texas Hold Em’ all day. The game also has a few different modes to choose from, which includes a normal play mode a career mode and an online mode as well.
The career mode is of course the meat and potatoes of the game, as this is probably where most gamers are going to be spending the majority of their time. It is here that you start by creating your characters in a pretty basic create-a-character mode, that to be honest isn’t overly complex and the amount of options isn’t that overwhelming. In fact the amount of voice choices isn’t that encouraging either, and to me that was a key problem with World Series of Poker. Once you create your character, you are given $10,000 to go and hit the poker circuit. Now you have to really do well right off the bat to progress to the next year. Basically you have to play a bunch of side tourneys to make your way up to the big ones, and the whole career mode just feels like one jumbled mess.
Never once in the career mode do you feel like there is a purpose in the game that you are playing. One of the biggest issues is that the game feels the same each time you play, and this just really gets you sick of playing it after a very short amount of time. The AI in the game also is a bit predictable and I found it near impossible to try and bluff your way to winning some money. There always seems to be one person that doesn’t want to get out a hand. That is fine, but not when it happens 99% of the time. Another problem is the sound, which in my opinion is some of the worst voice acting ever, and this turns you away from the game as well.
The online play in World Series of Poker is fine and has Eye Toy support as well to see your opponents, but unfortunately the image quality is so bad that it really never does anything positive for your experience. Although the online play is very functional and has plenty of options, there is just nothing overly exciting about it and I found that a lot of my experiences in the game were against players that really did not know the game of poker, and that sort of hurt my online experience as well.
When I look at World Series of Poker I see a missed opportunity as this game has the outline for a solid experience, but the gameplay in the end just seems a little too simple and there just is no real quality in this game that will stand out. Plus when you hear the same phrases over and over again, you will end up just turning on some music and muting the speakers.
With a poker game it is all about presentation, one of the key elements to any good poker game is the great "poker face". And unfortunately with World Series of Poker, you couldn’t even see the faces of the players because the players are really lacking any sort of detail or character. The whole presentation of World Series of Poker is a total turn off for this game as it just looks like a Dreamcast game, which is definitely not a nice thing to be saying this late in the Playstation 2’s lifespan.
I couldn’t understand why the developers couldn’t have spent more time refining this game and really putting the necessary visuals to really help the overall gameplay experience. It was just a real disappointment to see that this game did as poorly as it did in the graphical sense.
Being a poker fan and just a fan of card games, I found it hard not to still have some fun with this game even if the game itself wasn’t overly exciting and didn’t have a whole lot of interesting features. The gameplay itself was a decent experience that still did have some decent elements, like the ability to really customize your game and have a few different game options to choose from, which was a good thing. I mean if you enjoy poker, you’ll have just that in this game, and nothing more.
I had high hopes for this game that I almost immediately saw go by the waste side after playing this game. It is not that World Series of Poker is necessarily the worst game ever, as the actual poker in the game is not that bad. But with this pretty dismal presentation and the lack of a worthwhile career mode, it would be hard to do anything but designate this as a rent-only title that will only appeal to hardcore poker fans.
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.