Before you become overjoyed that the sequel to the awesome "Full House Poker" is free (to play) - let us remember that all too important caveat: you get what you pay for - which, in this case, is shockingly accurate.
The drastic shift toward free-to-play games has drawn my ire for quite some time. Now, don't get me wrong, sometimes it can be done right "Monsters Love Candy" and "Jetpack Joyride" to name a couple, but WSOP shows the true evil that lurks behind "FREE!" labels and those ever lurking pay-walls. This game is without a doubt, the most disjointed, peculiar, poorly planned, and (especially) poorly implemented poker game I've ever played.
WSOP borrows heavily from its (smarter, more attractive, and cooler) brother "Full House Poker" - which is a good thing. The controls are basically unchanged, however, the laggy framerate makes it almost impossible to escape the in-game menus and return to the action when prompted by your ticker. Adding even another second to the countdown cue could save untold frustration. Nothing worse than force-folding pocket aces just because you wanted to buy an XP boost from the new "store." Which brings me to my next issue: The Store
The store is the primary gameplay change from Full House Poker. In the original as you leveled up (to level 50) you became able to unlock outfits, titles, and chip tricks, etc. Now, however, while you can level up to 100 (a welcome change) everything is still "unlockable" but it has to be purchased to be used. XP boosts are a new addition that let you gain additional XP over the course of a set amount of hands (10, 20, and 50) by purchasing items from the store. If they'd have stopped at being able to buy drinks (something you can REALLY, ACTUALLY do at a casino card table) that would have been a touch of much appreciated realism - however in their apparent lack of insight, they decided to add hamburgers and fries, pots o' gold, and even shoes and pillows
as XP boosters. Just silly.
I could see how more competent programmers (by the way WSOP (Pipeworks Software) is not
made by the same devs as FHP (Krome/Microsoft Studios)) could have made the store an amazing aspect to this free-to-play poker game. As it stands, though, it is essentially a cluster
of bad ideas mixed in with good ideas that are badly done.
Also - wouldn't it have been cool if your avatar could sip the drink occasionally and actually have it diminish incrementally over the course of its lifetime but APPARENTLY Pipeworks Software doesn't think you're worth that level of effort. Free-to-play
The free-to-play system is based on chips (replenishable only by visiting the game daily in 12 hour increments or spending cash) and gold (as far as I know only obtainable by spending actual money) you use the former to obviously play poker matches and tournaments and the latter to purchase the aforementioned XP boosts. I actually have a problem with this. For one: why am I using my actual poker chips to buy drinks/XP boosts? And who uses actually gold bars to buy anything? They should have made silver/gold cards that you could level up or load with funds and use to buy drinks/XP boosts. Like those perks cards that casinos give you. The best games mix in a little dab of realism, even if they don't stylistically take themselves too seriously.Lag
I'd estimate that this game's framerate is somewhere between 10 frames-per-second and a geriatric turtle with 3 broken legs. Not only that but it lags INCESSANTLY. I've been disconnected from multiple games, I've been forced to fold my hand even though I was pounding the "A" button hard enough to push it inside of the controller, yes, the game soft-froze and simply continued on as if I was sitting out causing me to forfeit a surefire victory. It's things like this people wouldn't accept in a paid game - even if it was
in beta, but because its "free" (to play) we're supposed to accept it graciously.
Yeah ... no. GRAPHICS
The graphics are subpar. Not hideous - but definitely not as crisp as those in Full House Poker. You'd think all they had to do was just rip the code but no, somehow Pipeworks Studio can't even get the game to look right. I am admittedly a stickler for graphics and I obsess over being able to have a premium visual experience. So when I see things like choppy, lo-res, button icons, jagged card edges, stacks of ridiculously fake looking money, jpeg quality avatars, and GENERIC CHIPS in a WORLD SERIES OF POKER LICENSED GAME ... yes ... I get a little frustrated. It's attention to detail that makes graphics shine. Just like any piece of art. Well apparently - in the world of free-to-play - no one can afford to pay attention. Well, at least no one at Pipeworks. SOUND
Easily the most peculiar aspect of this game. Instead of creating a new experience by using the WSOP music (from ESPN) they simply recycle the music from Full House Poker which only makes me wish I was playing that instead. Norman Chad and Lon McEachern give pretty solid commentary, however I'm shocked that in 2013 no one realizes that no one wants to hear themselves referred to generically: "the player takes home the pot!" Gee, thanks a lot Mr. Roboto. How about at least having the game distinguish between male and female avatars and using the appropriate pronoun. But the problem is not a lack of commentary, in fact, Norm and Lon talk TOO much if anything - they even do play-by-play of you navigating the menus and looking at your achievements.
Also as the pot increases an annoying "chip stacking" sound effect plays ad nausea (God forbid someone raise the pot by 1,000,000 - you'll hear the sound effect until the counter stops). Also there's an awkward Casio keyboard synth string that plays when you go all-in. Just strange. A word to the wise to the sadists at Pipeworks. Less is more. It's like they had to punctuate every single aspect of the game with some sound effect - no matter how corny.LASTING APPEAL
Look, poker is fun. This was true with the Original Texas Hold 'Em (TikGames) which I loved but felt something was always missing, it was true with Full House Poker (that something that was missing) and it's true with WSOP. However, the fun-ness of poker cannot hide the fact that this is a seriously flawed and unrefined game. Even if the bugs were fixed the fundamental game itself is just misguided. The total misuse of the WSOP license is a travesty. There are no bracelets, no crowds, it's literally NOTHING like the WSOP experience other than the bland locales they stuff you in. I'd love for Krome (defunct for now) to make a proper sequel (and to update Game Room while they're at it) but no sense in holding our breath for that. If you feel you have nothing left to accomplish in the superior Full House Poker or want to just get the achievements, WSOP is bearable but I certainly can't recommend playing it after you've gotten 30/30.