Review: Fullhouse Poker
Ever since the avatar system was introduced to Xbox Live I have been awaiting a realistic Texas Hold ‘Em poker game to be released, finally the wait is over but has it been executed well?
Jumping into a game is fairly simple, whether you want to join someone else’s game or create your own, everything is customizable from the room you play in, the table texture and even the card deck, to earn these upgrades though you need to play games and earn XP. Earning XP is incredibly easy, you can get about 500XP for folding a hand preflop but then you can earn even more points by playing and winning hands.
A huge amount of detail has been put into this game, the dealers will actually burn cards before laying out the community cards, the avatars all show emotion when playing the game, this can even be controlled by the player before making a move in the game by simply holding down RT or LT, RT for aggressive and LT for reserved emotions. I have always been a firm believer of taking care of the little details and this is something that has obviously been in mind when crafting this game.
Another part of the detail is chip tricks, you earn new tricks as you level up and you can use tricks at the table by pressing certain directions on the D-Pad, there is no actual real use for this apart from showing off and earning a few achievements, it still feels good though when you show off a trick that no one else has earned on the table yet.
Naturally you have several modes in the game to choose from, if you feel like practising against the AI then the single player mode offers what you need but if you want to face off against other players over Xbox Live then you have a few more modes to choose from, you can go for a cash table set up where it’s a standard ring game and you can leave at any moment, tournament play which requires you to play until you are knocked out and then you have ranked matches. At the time of writing this review I have been unable to get into a ranked match as of yet due to no one being online, however I have been playing against other people in the standard multiplayer, I’ve won some and I’ve lost some, expect a lot of losing and a little winning when playing online.
Another factor of playing online is when you start a table you can choose how many players you want (2, 6 and 10) and also whether you want any ‘House Players’ in the game, this is basically a fancy term for bots. Having bots in a game can certainly help get the game going quicker but sometimes the AI can be frustrating, last night I witnessed a bot go all-in pre-flop with a 10-3 off suit, he then beat another bot with AA by pulling off a crafty full house, moves like this I clearly don’t understand as any seasoned player wouldn’t even attempt to see a flop on a 10-3, let alone go all-in. Some may argue that this is poker and anything can happen but sometimes I feel the bot AI was written without logic in mind.
Another notable issue is the frequency of heavy hitting hands, when playing in live poker or even online (cash) poker it’s quite rare you will witness a flush or a fullhouse but in this game it seems that every couple of hands you will see not just 1 but 2 people hitting a massive hand, I have never witnessed so many bad beats in my life so it makes me think that the developers have built this into their algorithm to help ‘speed’ games up, the more I think about it the more it makes sense, in live poker a tournament of around 40 people is likely to last around 6-7 hours but who has that much time to sit around and play poker on their Xbox for that long? And more importantly play that long only to win in-game currency and some XP?
Overall Fullhouse Poker is exactly what I wanted from an avatar based poker game, it takes all of the best elements of our beloved card game and then adds some flavour to keep us playing. The old Texas Hold ‘Em game on Xbox Live arcade still attracts players today but I have a feeling that it will become a thing of the past judging by the quality of this title. We may still have a few potty mouths on Xbox Live but with the added emotions of the avatars this will certainly make a few people laugh and smile. If you love to play poker then this is an essential purchase, pick it up this coming Wednesday for 800MSP on the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Review: Fullhouse Poker Results
What we liked:
Good attention to detail.
Fairly decent AI.
Well thought out design.
What we disliked:
Far too many big hands.
Few sound related bugs.