Poker Night 2 PlayStation 3 Review

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Poker-Night-2-Xbox360-Review

The concept of Telltale Games’ Poker Night 2 is a simple, yet interesting one. Sit down to a night of high stakes poker with some of the funniest characters in movies, television, and gaming. The addition of unlockable items that will transfer to other games makes things even more appealing. A beating, a quick glance at the last Poker Night cast, and a few false doors were all that separated me from a night with the gang.

The real focus of Poker Night 2 is the presentation of your four main opponents and the nostalgia that surrounds them. Each character is animated uniquely and voiced by their original handler. The banter between Claptrap (Borderlands), Brock Samson (Venture Bros.), Ash Williams (Army of Darkness), and Sam (Sam&Max) is continuous and rarely repeated. The satire each of these characters literally brings to the table is priceless in some cases, and mere filler in others. Brock lends his muscle bound icy glare and former secret agent commentary. Ash recounts his triumph over the Deadites, and plans for matrimony. Sam tries to keep Max from chewing off his own hands. As for Claptrap, I typically find the synthetic funny in small doses, so I wasn’t sure that any extended stay with the insanely lonely and self conscious robot would be to my liking, but my assumption was dashed rather quickly. Claptrap is easily the best character in Poker Night 2:


 


As I said before, the real draw here isn’t the poker, it’s the company in which you play. I’ve played enough Texas Hold Em’ with friends, online, and in other video games to know the game inside and out. Therefore the poker itself was rather unremarkable, but what can someone do to spice poker up nowadays? Several “events” add substance during the short 8-15 minute tourneys. Each character has a unique “tell” that lends insight into the cards they’re holding. This system is quickly mastered, especially when you use your in game tokens to inebriate your opponents. I found myself out of luck my first tourney (as GLaDOS was so polite to point out), but quickly learning to dominate from there on out. The highlight of the card playing comes when there’s an “All In” situation. Characters react in different ways to the ballsy move, and most of the time the losing party angrily stomps away while turning a decent phrase. One of the better exit scenes once again belongs to Claptrap:


 


Another great part of the Poker Night 2 experience comes in the form of characters having to put IP specific items up as an additional bet. Ever wanted to have your very own copy of the Necronomicon? How about Brock Samson’s mysterious orb? That “Bounty Reward” ended up being a pretty sweet PS3 wallpaper. There’s tons of unlocks for whatever platform your playing on, as well as cross-game items. It’s a great way to add extra stakes to tourneys. There’s also in game unlocks like themed poker decks and table felt. This helps add to the ambiance, and craziness ensues when you choose to utilize the IP specific customizations.

 

That’s not to say Poker Night 2 isn’t without it’s flaws. Since it’s a quasi gambling scenario there’s game saves, at different points during play. This wouldn’t be an issue, if the game didn’t glitch like a broken record while it was happening. Many games save seamlessly during game play, or cut scenes (Uncharted), but Poker Night 2 isn’t one of them. I also found that the special “events” described earlier would trigger, at times, a 10-15 second freeze of the game while initiating. I also had one full blown freeze of my PS3 while playing.

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Poker Night 2 builds off the success of the original Poker Night at the Inventory’s nostalgic gambling sessions. The second installment added characters I truly care about, I mean, Army of Darkness is the best B-Movie of all time, and the Venture Bros. is one of the best Adult Swim series of all time. The dialogue is recorded with flair by each characters true voice actor. There were times that I truly laughed while playing, and that’s no a regular occurrence. If Poker Night 2 weren’t marred with technical issues it’d be hard to knock it for any reason.

+ Awesome cast that’s voiced by their original talent
+ Genuinely funny and rarely repeated dialogue
+ Great system and cross-game unlocks
+ Fun atmosphere that’s enhanced by additional unlocks

– Several technical issues that result in game and console freezes
– Game saves should be handled without interrupting play

Review Score: 8/10

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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