Genre: Cards, poker, Texas Hold ’Em, Omaha
Release Date: 2013
Developer / Publisher: Telltale Games
Poker Night 2 pits you against four colourful opponents (they don’t have much in common and no explanation is provided as to how they got together): Sam and Max, Brock Samson, Ash Williams and Claptrap. Sam is a dog, Max a rabbit, Ash a monster killer, Brock a secret agent, and Claptrap a robot. Even if you’re not familiar with these fictional characters, you can still go ahead and play Texas and Omaha Hold ‘Em. If you’ve never played poker before, well you may have to read up on the basic rules elsewhere before you dive in.
Playability: Smart aleck dealer that’s too smart to teach you anything
It can be quite irritating to interact with people who think they know everything, but in fact totally lack culture and education. Poker Night 2’s dealer, GlaDOS from the Portal Series, sounds like a broken cassette recorder playing the same condescending lines over and over again. “You just lost, you loser!” could summarise quite adequately her line of argument. Well why don’t you teach players something about poker? Limited programming huh? Poker Night 2 does not even include a basic tutorial (you’ll have to read through help files hastily put together).
Annoyance: Repetitive jokes
Barely through the first tournament, the same jokes, that are funny at first, get served again as frozen dishes. Poker Night 2 doesn’t manage to create a realistic and convivial card game atmosphere, and feels contrived from the start. The limited number of characters and the absence of a multiplayer option combine with the handful of comic punchlines to make Poker Night 2 a tiresome loop.
Beauty: Dreary yawn
Poker Night 2 offers some unlockable items (avatars, skins, themes) for other games you may already own, which may be the most attractive feature for diehard fans of their respective series. However, there is a serious lack of anything exciting happening at all (not even a waitress bringing drinks and munchies). Poker Night 2 takes place at the Inventory, a rather dull setting populated by tables, chairs and a bar… The pre-recorded voice over sound artificial as they get repeated every few seconds.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Fold 5/10
In this day and age of distributed computing power and prowess, independent publishers are able to pack a surprising amount of creativity and fun into relatively cheap gaming packages. It is disappointing that larger companies sometimes try to milk their gaming properties rather than truly offer something innovative. Poker Night 2 feels like a rushed out product with barebone features marketed at a price that is not competitive. The jokes won’t last very long and the simplistic gameplay soon gets tiresome.