World Series Of Poker Tournament Of Champions
Review of World Series Of Poker Tournament Of Champions
Over the last few years poker has changed- where once it was confined to small, smoky back rooms it has now come into the mainstream with televised tournaments worth millions of dollars. The biggest of these tournaments is the World Series Of Poker held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Players winning this tournament can rightfully take a place beside the top players of the world.
Last year Left Field Productions and Activision gave players The Official Game World Series Of Poker, one of the more solid poker games seeing release. A year later and we now have a followup entitled World Series Of Poker: Tournament Of Champions. Have they gone all-in this time around or should they have folded before the flop? Let's have a look.
First order of business when firing up this game is to set up your virtual self. After naming your character you can customize your look from head to toe. Compared to some of the other poker games the selection is a bit limited but it shouldn't be a problem to get a look that suits you.
The main course of this game is the single player Career Mode, where you play through WSOP circuit events attempting to earn enough points to get an invite to the World Series Of Poker itself. Unlike the first game, which pretty much put you straight into the action, they have attempted to put a bit of backstory in. You start off at the regular weekly poker game among friends but something is different this time- dealing the cards is poker legend Chris "Jesus" Ferguson! Due to his losing a bet involving 63 hours of poker playing and a bean burrito (don't ask) he now has to take one of your group as a protegé and will decide who it is by how play goes here. You eventually do get picked and your career as a poker pro begins!
The events leading up to the WSOP cover a range of poker games from the ever-popular Texas Hold 'Em to Omaha and High-Low. If you are unfamiliar with the games there are a number of video tips and tutorials in the game. During tournaments you will get playing tip from Chris Ferguson, giving you some strategies to use against your computerized opponents. Speaking of which, the AI on these computer players is pretty good and can slow play you into a trap easily enough. Each of the tourneys also includes a number of actual poker pros which could show up at your table anytime. During one multitable match after a few players were knocked out we were joined by T.J. Cloutier, Men "The Master" Nguyen and 2005 WSOP champion Joe Hachem (it may not have been the ral thing but I was still a tad nervous about playing these guys). There are a total of 25 poker pros represented in the game- give yourself a pat on the back for knocking these guys off! If you have to leave mid-tourney it's no problem. progress can be saved at anytime and the game will continue where you left off.
During play you can win Collector Chips for various achievements such as winning with particular hands, taking out players or winning a hand before the flop. There are quite a few to get which should keep completist players at it for some time. If you feel you aren't quite ready for taking on the pros the option is there to play a quick match single table game or take it online against other players over a broadband connection. If you have Sony's EyeToy camera video is available to actually see your opponents (which can be good or bad depending on one's point of view). It's easy to find or host a game of your own online to play against up to 8 opponents. Another plus is if one has the PSP version of the game progress can be transferred between the two and let you continue anywhere.
The one thing I find a bit annoying about the gameplay is the slightly long load times when starting tournaments or when more players are joining the table. To me it seems a big longer than necessary and takes away a bit from the playing experience.
Of all the poker games I have played on the PS2 this one has, I feel, the simplest control scheme possible. All decisions are made by pushing on the stick or D-pad in a specific direction (down to fold, left to call the bet, right to raise and up to go all-in when allowed) and hit the X button. Some of the others have felt downright clunky by comparison and make things more difficult than it needs to be.
The in-game interface is rather clean and uncluttered with all the information easily available as to pot size, who's turn it is, how much in chips each has and what cards are in play. Most of your view is from above and to the left of the table although sometimes you will get a close up view of the players as they make a decision. The players are animated well but their total moveset is somewhat limited. While drawn well you definitely won't mistake these for real life unless your eyesight is extremely bad like mine! The pros in the game do look very close to their actual selves so points there for that. One other minor sore point is the crowd watching- there is no movement whatsoever and they look more like cardboard cutouts. I'd have thought after this much time with the PS2 some improvement could be made here. At least have some servers walking around with drink trays!
The sounds in the game are done well with the background noise simulating actual tournaments with a mixture of voices and the sounds of chairs on the floor. The voices in the game are synched up nicely but the number of phrases is somewhat limited. It won't be long before you are hearing one of the commentators (actual ESPN poker commentators Norman Chad and Lon McEachern) make a self-depreciating joke about "the flop" again. Unfortunately you can't turn them off without turning off the player voices too so it's all or nothing.
The only music to speak of in the game is a country/ western tune in the same style that ESPN uses for their taped broadcasts of the WSOP. This can quickly get on the annoying side and I advise turning it down or off as soon as possible.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'World Series Of Poker Tournament Of Champions' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Lyndon MacLeod © Absolute PlayStation
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