Some time ago Telltale Games brought out a Poker game called Telltale Texas Hold’em. The joy of this version of poker was the characters you played against. They chit-chatted, snarked at each other, and had their own play-styles – which made the whole game fun to play, even after a lot of games They’ve now released another Poker game, called Poker Night at the Inventory.
Again, it’s the characters you play against that makes the game. Telltale have always been good with characters, and in this case they’ve managed to talk Max (from Sam and Max), StrongBad (Homestar Runner), The Heavy (Team Fortress 2) and Tycho (Penny Arcade) into playing. Winston (Tales Of Monkey Island) is the ‘adjudicator’.
Each character is used well, and has their own distinct play style. I’ve yet to work out all their ‘tells’, but each character brings something to the table. You can adjust the level of ‘chatting’ between the characters to suit yourself. They can have near constant interaction between deals or hands, or merely comment occasionally. What’s interesting in this game is how little repetition I’ve had so far. With the original Hold’em, it didn’t take long for the phrases and chatter to repeat, but so far I’ve only had a few repeats, and those were due to similar circumstances cropping up in play.
Now, I’m not sure if they’ve got a sledgehammer of a graphics engine to smash a pea, or if I finally have to admit that my system is getting too long in the tooth. Apart from the introduction, where you’re led into The Inventory and introduced to the layout, it seems there’s not that much that ‘should’ be going on. However, even at minimum graphics level, shadows off, and effects off, the mouse lags and jerks around the screen in poor imitation of my own movements. For the hell of it, I wound up the graphics to ‘full’ and didn’t see a lot of difference, but the character movements became poor quality stop-motion, and the mouse … went to sleep.
For your benefit, I’m running this on a Pentium 4 (Hyperthreading) 3.20 GHz system, with 2 GB of RAM and a GeForce 6600 graphics card. This appears to be way below the minimum they need for this, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
Putting that aside, the characters are all wonderfully rendered, except for Tycho. They’ve done a good job of keeping the Penny Arcade “feel”of him, but his nose frequently disappears when he’s front on, rather than in profile, and that distracts more than I thought it would. That’s my only real gripe about the characters though.
They’ve also extended the concept of Hold’em a little. Sometimes characters will play with “collateral” rather than money. If you happen to be the one that knocks them out of the game, you win whatever collateral they’ve put in. So far I’ve managed to score some “Dangeresque” slat shades from StrongBad. I need to play more to find out about the various “unlocks” they mention, and also what using a “new deck” will do for the game.
However, for $US4.95, I can say that if you enjoy Poker, I’d suspect you’d enjoy this. It’s certainly worth a try.
Now, if only I could pull myself away from Fallout: New Vegas long enough to really play some decent games of this…