Review: Poker Night 2

Poker videogames aren’t exactly hard to come by on the Xbox 360, with Full House Poker championing cross-platform bank rolls with Windows Phone and the forthcoming World Series of Poker promising to maximise the effectiveness of the Metro network, playable on all Xbox branded formats. Poker Night 2 is the latest addition to the pack, but is less about the ‘poker’ and more about the ‘night.’

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Most videogame adaptations of the popular card game are a serious affair, even when playing with Xbox LIVE Avatars. Taking the competition online can be a heated experience, with many players treating their virtual currency as if it were their own notes on the line. Poker Night 2 dispenses with all of this – including the human competition – in favour of creating an atmosphere. Poker Night 2 is all about enjoying the experience of playing with fictional characters and is less concerned about what you’re actually playing.

Venture Bros., Borderlands, Evil Dead, Portal and Sam & Max all feature prominently in Poker Night 2, with numerous other franchises also making cameos. It’s an interesting combination, with each character drawn on the fashion that they have been previously in their own videogames. It’s these contrasting personalities, well aware of their own past experiences and knowing of each other, that makes Poker Night 2 a unique endeavour. This is comedy gaming at its best, which is the exact reason you’ll want to invest in Poker Night 2.

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Outside of the experience of playing with the best fictional friends you’ve never had, Poker Night 2 isn’t an easy sell. It has the usual array of unlockables and increasingly difficult challenges, but as far as the poker itself goes Poker Night 2 is decidedly average. Opponents show little character, instead playing to very similar rulesets and refusing to budge from the prescribed templates of probability. The few times they will bet on a poor will likely result to something decent coming out on the flop, which doesn’t exactly give the impression of a fair deal.

Poker Night 2 features both Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha gameplay modes and typically begins in a tournament fashion for five players (including yourself). There’s very little to sing about aside from the comedic value of the characters included: hardly Telltale Games’ best then, but still enough to warrant a purchase from those who immediately recognise all of the characters involved.

Score: 7