World Series of Poker: TOC Review
I picked up this game for a cool $5 spot at my local used gamestore. Realizing that the game was poker, I didn’t go into the game expecting much. Obviously the idea of the game is imprinted right into the title – that you’ll be playing poker – and if you just plain don’t like poker, than I don’t know what you expected.Single Player:
The game has a sort of campaign system that it introduces to you straight away. You’re immediately thrown into a friend’s basement where you are introduced to the game of Texas Hold ‘Em. Win or lose the game and you’ll find yourself in a new set of menus. You get your choice of any of the four games at the first location in an attempt to build your bankroll and become eligible for the Tournament of Champions. Your four choices will all alter slightly, but the biggest difference will be whether it is limit or no limit poker. For the most part the no limit games will have a larger amount of participants, but are in general easier as well.
Complete one of the four tournaments and you’ll unlock a new location to go to. There are four locations in total I believe, each requiring at least one tournament beaten to unlock the next location. It’s actually not required that you physically win the tournament, but rather just finish in the money most of the time, which limits the amount of stress that you’ll put on yourself. In totality there are thirteen different tournaments that you can participate in.
Each tournament has a different set of pros that you can attempt to beat, and people that are knowledgable about professional poker will recognize a few names. The gameplay is what you’d expect – you can raise, call, and fold at all times. All of the games are blinds to play (big and small), no antes. The game gives you the option of using some beneficial systems as well – hold your right trigger and it will bring up odds – both the percentage chance of getting each type of hand and a rating of all the possible hands and where yours ranks. Each player also, theoretically, has a personality that you can try to analyze and manipulate, and the menus in the game allow you to do that if you’re so inclined.
Now I only played on the easier difficulty, but that was fine with me, since I enjoy winning. In the end, even with my limited poker knowledge, I was capable of winning most of the time, despite using only rudimentary knowledge. I’d raise on pairs (more on higher pairs), call on upper tier cards (Ace King), and fold on low tier nothingness (Nine four off suit). Of course I’d analyze the flop accordingly, but for the most part this got me through a great deal of the game. As of writing this I have beaten all of the tournaments and have all but four of the achievements (which are collector achievements); therefore with this simple strategy I was capable of winning it all.
If you don’t feel like playing the storyline of the game, you’re welcome to do some quickplay, though I’m not sure why you would. Considering you have the ability to go back and play any of the tournaments as much as you want, even after you’ve beaten the Tournament of Champions, and increase your career bankroll, it makes no logical sense whatsoever. There are other modes that are unlocked as you play as well / are unlocked from the beginning. They all include beating some pro players at a final table type game, or some variation. There is one where the gametypes will switch (Texas Hold ‘Em, 7 Card, etc), there is one that is a pro tournament in one versus one formation, and there are others that are even simpler (just play a final table with you versus the pro).
As I said earlier, you should know before you get into this game if you like poker, specifically Texas Hold ‘Em. If you don’t, then this clearly isn’t the game for you. If you do, this game felt fine in my mind, and I saw no glaring weakness with it. You could customize your settings as you saw fit to make it as quick/slow and easy/hard as you desired, while at least attempting to incorporate a story mode. In comparison to the All In Poker game that is available for the 360, this one is much more fun and has a significant amount more of players that have played it according to TA. Considering I knew what I was getting myself into when I booted up the game, it was perfectly enjoyable.Single Player Score: 9/10
There is a multiplayer. Let me copy and paste you the description from xbox live:
Expand your game: Raise the stakes with Xbox Live® play: Host multi-table tourneys, read your opponents tells via camera footage, or even test your psychic skills by playing "Blind Man's Bluff."
I'll be honest with you and tell you I didn't play this. There are no achievements directly related to it, and the community was dead last time I checked, plus I couldn't force any of my friends to get the game. I am therefore going to put the score as N/A since I have zero firsthand knowledge, I hope you'll understand Multiplayer Score: N/A
There are cutscenes in this game, believe it or not. Also, as you would figure, they are relatively bad. Before the start of each tournament, and when you make it to the final table, the announcers will talk about your chances, what type of tournament it is, and who the pros are / favorites. The animation is bad, the human form characters are bad, and the dialogue that spews out of their mouth is relatively bad. While you’re actually playing the game you will see a constant crawl on the bottom of your screen giving you “pro tips” – something to the effect of “sometimes you have to fold with pocket aces” – or something similar. There is also the sound of people coughing and clapping in the background.
The actual gameplay graphics are dictated by your personal choice. If you don’t mess with any settings you’re going to see a lot of animation, a lot of movement, a lot of subtle shifts in your seat. You have your cards in front of you, and just like the pros you can ‘sneak a peak’ at what cards you have, just barely lifting them up. If you fold at the last minute the computer will let you see the river card that they didn’t flip over in an attempt to either make you feel bad or exhale, proud of yourself that you folded. Now I said this is all dictated by personal choice – speed up the gameplay and your cards will be shown to you in the top right and there won’t be any of these little graphical moments. To put it in perspective, I had them on for about twenty minutes before I turned them off to speed up this process. They’re cute, they’re entertaining, but for the most part you can’t stand them for thirteen tournaments.
Now I’m lucky enough to own a plasma television, but my parents are still functioning on a projection one. I went home from college for Christmas break and was severely disappointed by the game’s visuals on the older tv. I had a real big issue with reading the cards I had, and especially the odds / values of the bets, which killed even more of the strategy in the game for me. Quite a bit of the text became blurred and strained my eyes. Of course, if you have a high quality television, all of this is moot – to a point. If you have a plasma television like me, you’re almost guaranteed some level of burn-in, especially if you turn on the faster settings, since the screen will rarely change from a relatively still-shot of the poker table.
But are you really playing a poker game for its graphics in the end?
The game does have quite a few of the lesser-noticed things that I truly like though. The ability to speed up the game process and cut down on those cut-scenes really increases the pace of the game when you want it, yet you can have them on if you’re up for a more realistic experience. The ability to pick your difficulty allows you to dictate how much poker experience you have and if you’re up for a challenge or not. The game also has extensive in-game menus on the collectibles that you will need to collect for achievements which I’ll get to later in this review.DLC/Graphics/Sound/Intangibles Score: 5/10
Thirty-five of these thirty-nine or so achievements make sense to me and are very logical. Most of the achievements fall into one of three categories that are related to the career mode. The first of these is for finishing in the money at the selected tournament location. This changes for each tournament, and you can find the needed info for doing so by bringing up the in-game menus. The next is for reaching the final table in each tournament, which is pretty self-explanatory. Off the top of my head that means there are four achievements of the first type, thirteen of the second, and thirteen of the third, for a total of thirty-one of the achievements. The other eight or so are collection based achievements, which are more unlockables than anything else. You’ll have to beat the secondary single player that I mentioned earlier in all the modes, as well as collect “collector chips”. An example of this is the takedown chip, which is awarded each time that you knock someone out of a tournament. Collect all of these and you have almost all of the achievements.
However, as it seems with all poker games, there is one obnoxious achievement that requires you to “make all hands”. What does this mean to you? This means that unless you are incredibly lucky, after playing through all of the tournaments and extra challenges, you still wont have made a royal flush by the end of it, which they consider a hand. You probably also wont have the straight flush. This means you’re going to go back into tournaments, basically checking all the time when you have the opportunity to create this unlikely hand. I haven’t even gotten close yet if you’re curious, and have probably spent about three hours or so mindlessly attempting. There is also one for accumulating one-thousand total takedowns, which, if you’re like me, you’ll have accumulated around three-hundred after completing all of the tournaments. Have fun…Achievement Score: 7.5/10
Total Score: 21.5/30 = 7.2 / 10 = 3.58/5
Again, I’m judging this game with the assumption that you realize that it is a poker game. If you don’t like poker games, I don’t know why you would be interested in playing it. Similar to a basketball game – if you aren’t into basketball (or those relatively easy achievements), then why are you contemplating playing it? For what it attempts to be t he game is relatively solid, with a couple obnoxious achievements and a lacking multiplayer, with graphics and sound that could have been more.
I spend a lot of time on my reviews. If you feel that I misrepresented the game in anyway, or didn’t serve the game due justice, and feel the desire to leave negative feedback, I please ask you to leave a comment instead so that I may improve my review. If I don’t improve it within a day, then I do deserve the negative feedback if it is still warranted.