World Championship Poker 2 (WCP2) is Crave Entertainments’ follow-up to the semi-successful original from developer Point of View. However unlike when the predecessor was first released, poker and other card games have since proliferated onto the store shelves like wildfire. The question is: Does WCP2 differentiate itself from the crowd and offer a better Poker experience?
WCP2 features fourteen variations of Poker but it’s made clear that Texas Hold’em is the game of choice, just like it often is in real-life play. The gameplay interface is simple and effective - often you’ll only need to rely upon a few regularly used commands to get you through a game. The commands for betting, raises, calls, & folding are clearly mapped visually onscreen so there should only be a rare occasion in which the wrong command is selected – a calamity that often plagues lesser games. The readability of your bluffs or the ability to mask the strength of your hand is controlled through a small mini-game. IT works like this: you must use the joystick to keep the selection line within a certain colored area on a revolving wheel. Fail to demonstrate your skill with the controller and you easily tip your true situation to the other players.
If you are a poker newbie then the play-by-play commentary by Matt Savage will keep you in the loop and quickly bring you up to speed. However after a few hours of play the indecent commentary, horrible background music, coupled with the bizarre taunts & comments from the other players may wish to lower the volume.
To begin a game you must first “create” your character. You can choose everything from the clothes they wear, facial features, and even the personality type. Creating someone as realistic or zany as you like is a breeze. Next you can engage in quick single games or start the interesting career mode. The single games are great for refining your table skills but the real action is in the much-improved career mode. This is where you must rise from small games in your mother’s basements to the World Championship ranks. Hit a winning steak and you’ll soon be purchasing a new home, toys, and other personal effects, but if you lose a few games you could soon find yourself at the pawn shop trying to raise some much needed dough for the next game. What’s nice about career mode is that you often have several games to choose from at each level coupled along with the flexibility to choose a wide variety of items to purchase to compliment your globetrotting, poker-guru lifestyle.
Throughout your rise through the tournament ranks you may be awarded “points” in which you can use to subtly improve your basic poker skills. These include skills like being a “tough read” or giving you the ability to more accurately read another player. All of these skills will combine to make you a better player just when the skills are needed most - in the upper-levels of the career mode. Be warned though, career mode is long, be prepared to invest some serious time if you want to make it to the top ranks in the World.
Howard Lederer, the “Professor of Poker”, did not only lend his name to this game but his influence is evident in a more realistic gameplay experience as well. The Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has improved greatly creating players that act, bluff, raise, & call just as a real person would. Each character/player has its own unique playing style that you must learn to read and predict to get far in the game.
Playing online with Xbox Live isn’t too different
than playing the computer. All of the same game play elements as
single-player mode are present. The only tangible difference is the
character you seeing sitting across from you is being controlled by an
actual person. But thanks to the A.I.’s strengths you’ll find the
humans’ behavior is not too far different than the computers. There are
the occasional players that will play an “off-the-wall” game but more
often than not they are the exception – they usually lose they’re money
quickly and are out the door. One programmatic downside to the online
game play is the inclusion of the mini-games. Every once and a while
you’ll see the other player pause in their decision for 5-7 seconds and
it becomes clear that they’ve been required to play the mini-game. Now
this doesn’t necessary give away their hand because there is no way of
telling if the game started because of a very strong or very weak hand.
Overall it ends up simply becoming an annoying feature to the online
WCP2 builds upon the strengths of the predecessor while making much needed improvements to the A.I. and game play. Crave Entertainment has managed to adequately replicate the uniqueness of live-action game play and the addictiveness of real poker into a winner of a game. Being both priced at a value rate along with the high replay value this game should be a part of any poker-lover catalog.