Bring Your Poker Face
Poker Night at the Inventory was an interesting little title that allowed players to challenge popular video game characters to several rounds of Texas hold ‘em. While it was certainly an enjoyable take on poker, it was the characters themselves, and the way those characters interacted with each other, that made the game worth playing. (Team Fortress 2’s Heavy and Penny Arcade’s Tycho Brahe were especially fun to watch.) So can the sequel, Poker Night 2, still hold our interest?
Well, that’s a silly question. Of course it can! Telltale has dealt up another group of opponents with extraordinarily large personalities. In fact, these characters are some of the largest personalities in all of gaming. For starters, Borderlands’ Claptrap is in the mix, and his presence alone is enough to make this title worth the price of admission. Throw Brock Samson from The Venture Bros., Ash Williams from Army of Darkness, and Sam from Sam and Max, and you have one of the zaniest collections of characters you could ever hope to see together in one place.
This time, however, the roster spreads beyond your opponents. GLaDOS from Portal is your dealer, and she’s here in tip-top evil form, just as she should be. She will be constantly undercutting you, making you question your choices, and just being the gloriously nasty A.I. that only GLaDOS can be. (Seeing GLaDOS interact with Claptrap is flat out brilliant.) If that’s not enough, Mad Moxxi from Borderlands will be your bartender, and Max, of Sam and Max, is just sort of hanging around for no real reason other than to support his good pal Sam and interject random bouts of insanity from time to time.
Like its predecessor, Poker Night 2 is really just another poker game on the surface. This time around, you have the option of choosing between Texas hold ‘em and Omaha. But the poker really isn’t anything more than just an excuse to gather all these personalities together and let them go completely nuts. In fact, you’ll be spending more time watching the absolutely crazy character interactions than you will actually be playing poker. Of course, you can always skip all the non-poker elements if you’d like, but there’s really no reason to ever do that. The dialogue in this game will have you practically rolling on the floor, and there’s enough of it that you shouldn’t have to worry about it getting repetitive until you’ve put in quite a few hours.
Just like its predecessor, the personalities in Poker Night 2 extend to the characters’ playing styles. For example, Claptrap tends to play incredibly unpredictably, oftentimes going all in or throwing around large amounts of chips while acting like he doesn’t exactly understand the rules. And you’re allowed, encouraged even, to use this to your advantage. You can actually learn your opponents’ playing styles and use that knowledge to determine when you think they’re bluffing.
As you win hands, you’ll be given special Inventory tokens, which you can use to buy new decks of cards, felts for the table, or poker chips. Of course, all of these things are themed around the games your opponents come from. (There’s a Borderlands set, for example.) It’s all just cosmetic, and none of it is all that exciting, but it’s a fun little quirk that certainly doesn’t hurt the game, by any means.
If that’s not enough, you can earn yourself various items for other games too, depending on which platform you play it on. For example, the Xbox 360 version allows you to win a bunch of exclusive Borderlands 2 items, as well as some nifty avatar rewards. The Steam version also has Borderlands 2 rewards, but it also grants some Team Fortress 2 items. This provides just one more reason to put in an extended play session – as if trying to hear all of the character dialogue isn’t reason enough.
I don’t think I even need to mention this, but the audio in the game is fantastic. The voice actors all put in incredible performances, and the atmosphere provided by the amalgam of these character voices is perfect.
The graphics, on the other hand, aren’t especially impressive, but they certainly do the job as well as they need to. Seeing the Inventory again made my heart skip and leap; it looks exactly as I remember it.
At the end of the day, Poker Night 2 is really just another poker game. But don’t let that turn you off to it. Very few games are stuffed with this much personality. If you like humorous video games at all (and especially if you like Borderlands and Portal), you really need to play this. It actually makes you feel like you’re sitting in a room and hanging out with some of gaming’s favorite stars, and that’s an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up unless you simply hate video games.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.2 Graphics
Not the best graphics we’ve seen, but everything is stylized. 4.0 Control
Nothing too complex here. It all works as it should. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Fantastic voice acting. In fact, this is pretty much the main attraction. 4.0 Play Value
It’s really just poker. But the draw is getting to hang out with these wacky video game characters. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best