Published on March 15th, 2011 | by Gabriel1
Review: Full House Poker [XBLA]It seems that finally there’s a competent game out there for poker fans, and that game is Full House Poker. This is the last game from Microsoft’s Promotion, XBLA House Party, which consisted of Bejeweled Blitz, Beyond Good and Evil HD, Torchlight and Full House Poker. Don’t let the Avatar integration make you think this is only for casual gamers. This is one of the most fully-featured poker games out there. Although not without faults, this is one enjoyable poker game. And I’ll tell you why. First, lets get this out of the way. This is full on Texas Hold ‘Em, so you’re enjoyment of Full House Poker will depend on how much you like poker in general. If you do like it, there are many different modes and extras in here to make a simple game of poker even more interesting. If you simply don’t like poker, I doubt this game will change your mind. Now, the two main differences from this and other poker games are: avatars and XP. While on the table, you are represented by your avatar, as is everyone else, be it CPU or other player online. Your avatar has a couple of moves at its disposal. This is poker after all and a great part of that is your poker face. By using the triggers you can make your avatar seem either confident or scared of making a play. You can also move around the table and check up on other players. They will notice when you do this and make them wonder about your hand and act accordingly. The game also features XP. You earn it after each hand depending on how you played. As you level up, you unlock different customizations. For example, you unlock different venues, decks, tables and chairs for when you host a game. You also get costumes for your avatar and titles (puns describing you). Gameplay wise, there are several modes. First of all, there’s the standard single player, where it’s you against the AI. Here you get to choose the mode, the game format, the betting limit, buy in and so on. Since you’re playing alone, you can faast-forward a match after you’ve folded, which helps keep the pace up. You also customize the venue in which you’ll play. This is a good place to start if you’re not too familiar with Texas Hold ‘Em, although from my experience, the AI seems to take it easy on you, with most of the other players folding out as soon as the match starts. The other single-player mode is called Pro Takedown. This one pits you against just one AI player. These matches require a certain level to play against the different characters. The meat of the game though, is found in its online portion. There’s the standard Player match and Ranked match, player matches letting you choose between Standard and Tournament, while Ranked matches don’t. But where everyone will spend most of their time is in Texas Heat. These are a series of scheduled matches with up to 30 players (you can verify the schedule in the main menu). It consists of 30-minute games, where you are dropped from table to table, depending on how you’re doing, and you have to try and receive as much XP as you can before the timer reaches 0.
At the end, the players are ranked based on their performance, and depending on you position, you get certain rewards and XP. The first season, Spring 2011 season, is the one currently going one (requires you download a small free DLC). My only gripe with the online was that I had trouble finding matches, but that is probably because the game isn’t out yet and not many people are currently playing it, so I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
I thoroughly enjoyed the option to customize your venue. Although just a visual change, it’s good to have the option to make the game your own. Also, Texas heat was a really fun spin on Texas hold ’em, providing regular events to play with people online and rank up. Getting into a game was sometimes hard, but that might change tomorrow. Also, the single player AI seemed to easy sometimes, making the game a bit boring. I also experienced a bit of lag online, but nothing too serious. Overall, a solid title sure to please poker fans.Overall, this is a great addition to the lineup of already awesome games on XBLA and you’re getting plenty of content for just 800 Microsoft Points.