Monday, December 24, 2007

World Series of Poker 2008: Battle for the Bracelets

Ever since "Rounders" I've enjoyed poker and specifically Texas Hold 'Em, by watching it on TV, reading about it, and playing video game versions.

I'm not sure why but most poker video games I've played have been lacking something. Some don't include avatars, some have crummy AI, some don't allow you to skip all the animations after you've folded pre-flop; one I played didn't allow a player to go "all in!" This is the first poker title that's been able to keep my interest for more than a couple of days.

This title includes tons of licensed players including Phil "The Brat" Hellmuth, loads and loads of statistical features, nice artwork (I love how this game deals your cards face down and you have to "peek" at them unlike every other game I've played that deals your cards face up. Nice detail.) and an amazing career mode that really captures the climb to the top. Also included is a heads up ladder challenge and cash games that pop up from time to time. You're informed of the cash games by a call on your cellphone. The title also features some nice full motion video of venues in Vegas in the cut scenes. Nice stuff that really adds to the immersion.

The statistics and tools that are included are really top notch and could easily serve as a training program for an aspiring player. You can quickly check the hand odds, the percentage of hands you've folded pre-flop, the cost odds of the pot and everything else they flash on the screen during a televised WSOP match. Play enough and soon this stuff is really going to stick. I just wonder if the screens could have been better utilized to allow me to have these stats up top during a match.

The only gripe I have about the game is the title. I know that the World Champ of Poker receives a bracelet but if I were WSOP I'd either downplay that little fact or just come up with a better jewellery-themed trophy. How about a ring guys? Works for every other championship. My point is how many guys want to battle for a bracelet?

No wi-fi and the multiplayer requires a cart per player and supports up to nine players.

Personally, this is my pick for the best poker title on the DS but I'm sure this won't be the last poker title either.

I can't give this game a buy rating because it's for poker fans, and more specifically Texas Hold 'Em fans, only. Others are going to be hurting for wi-fi. Finally, you can't save mid-game so you have to finish a whole match first which can take an hour or more easily. So overall, this is a "hold."

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