I wanted to like this game. It’s poker. I like poker. In fact I love poker. In fact I wanted to love this game. Here’s the result of my notes from sitting down to play the game for this review:
Music: ughGraphics: gaudy, frame rate is terribleCharacters are annoyingLoading times are grimText is too smallCommentary: awfulHUD [Heads-Up Display] sucks
All of the above is true. So much so that it all these negatives could be described in considerably more words, if only I could be bothered. You see, the production values and general overall feeling of this game are so bad, so horribly, inescapably original Playstation, that I wanted to ring every single person mentioned in the credits and scream, “It is not 1997! Games are better than this! BETTER THAN THIS!!!”
It starts, as mentioned above, with the music. It’s dire. It’s like the Poker Night on Five music on acid. It took me all of two minutes to turn it off, and by then it had already reached the limit of its nauseating, continuous loop fifty-four times. At least I think it had – I couldn’t tell with the cheese I’d shoved into my ears to stop the pain. At this point I’d also noticed the graphics, which were making me want to shove cheese into my eyes as well. Angular and overloaded with colour, they’re the sort of thing someone sitting in a woefully out-of-touch design studio would call ‘funky’. The text is horribly and unnecessarily small, the pros (who include some big names, Howard Lederer and Annie Duke being the real catches) are done no justice by their caricatures, and the controls are rotten.
The play itself, despite its claim to have ‘outstanding AI’, isn’t much better or worse than any other poker software on the market. It may not even be relevant to you, as you may not survive long enough to find out – the in-game dialogue and general goings-on are so teeth-clenchingly irritating that you’ll wonder how you ever found the UltimateBet software annoying. Players say utterly ridiculous things, even more ridiculous than in a Full Tilt freeroll, and then repeat them two seconds later. The commentary is a shambles, the ‘bonuses’ unexciting and the whole thing a total and complete disappointment, especially in the highly-promising career mode.
There was one other thing I wrote in my notes: ‘Tips are good’. Which they are. So it’s just as well you’ve got hours’ worth of loading screens to read them from.