reviews\ Sep 14, 2005 at 8:00 pm

World Series of Poker - XB - Review

World Series of Poker from Activision Value Publishing is the latest game of poker to hit consoles. The game has a bunch of nice features, including a character creation system similar to the one used in Tony Hawk’s Underground and solid online play. However, the use of the World Series license is all but wasted, and is present only in namesake. The games, while there are a lot of them, lack much variation, the poker pros in the game don’t act (or really look, but more on that later) like their real-life counterparts, so those expecting something comparable to what the name touts it as will be a bit disappointed.

World Series of Poker presents several different Poker games like Seven Card Stud, Omaha Pot Limit, Razz, and High Low Split - each of which can be played online or off. Along your way to poker gold, you’ll play against professionals from the world circuit, like Max Pesatori, John Phan, Chris Ferguson, and Men the Master, to name a few. Unfortunately, neither the game modes nor the actual players are what you’d expect. Each game plays way too similarly to the others, so the lack of variation really trumps the several modes of play.

The pros do not act or play as they do in real life, and their presence is limited to a marketing ploy to get you to buy the game. While the AI is quite difficult, the choices it makes don’t reflect on what you’d see from the actual players, so that feels a bit off. However, considering this, the astute AI does make for a nice challenge.

Also amongst the pluses for this game are the collector’s chips, which you gain by doing various ballsy things throughout the game, like high bets and winning with certain hands and so on, and the character creation mode, which uses the THUG system very well. You can give your player a very unique look, detailing things like poker faces and different emotional reactions as you make them.

The online modes are also quite smooth and offer support for nine players in one game. The interface is easy to navigate, meaning that XBox Live players will be up and running in no time.

However, the goodness seems to stop here, as it were. Graphically, the game leaves much to be desired, as the characters sport way too much of a cartoony/muppet look to be taken too seriously. Particularly awful are the pros, who fling about wildly when winning a hand and appear more spasmodic than actually happy that they won. The cartoon look is just way too jarring and doesn’t feel in place in this game.

The sound doesn’t fare much better, unfortunately, as the hokey speech and corny victory quotes (“if you don’t know, now you know!”) become mind-numbingly annoying. The commentary is also pretty disappointing, consisting of only a few different comments that seldom have any real bearing on the game currently being played. The game also supports custom soundtracks, which is a bonus.

World Series of Poker has some good elements to it, but compared to other poker games out there, it ultimately fails to deliver. The online elements are quite solid, so if you are looking for a poker game to play online, then this one could be worth a look. Just don’t expect World Series of Poker to be the champion of the genre.

Review Scoring Details for World Series of Poker

Gameplay: 6.5
The gameplay has its good parts, thanks to some challenging AI and deep character creation elements. Unfortunately, the game’s pros don’t play as they do in real life, and the modes lack much in the way of variation, making the game a little too redundant.

Graphics: 5.0 
Graphically the game leaves a lot to be desired, as the character models are way too cartoony and freakish and the animations are jarring.

Sound: 5.0
The voice effects are cheesy and redundant, and the commentary is simple and doesn’t reflect the action.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Concept: 5.0 
The gameplay lacks variation and the pros are squandered, making this more of an exercise in marketing than an actual representation of the World Series of Poker.

Multiplayer: 7.5 
The multiplayer elements are quite well done, thanks to smooth Live support and an easy-to-navigate interface.

Overall: 6.0
While World Series of Poker offers some solid AI and nice multiplayer support, it ultimately can’t play with the big dogs.


Above Average

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