Poker Night 2
I wrote a review for Poker Night 1 a long time ago, but I made some good points. This sequel expands greatly on the formula from the first game, adding tells, themes and alcohol.
As far as the characters go, Brock is essentially the Heavy, Sam is a more boring Max who constantly refers to Max’s behaviour for humour, Claptrap is an annoying robot, but Ash is a nice addition. GLaDOS, on the other hand, is genius. Combining the role of the dealer with one of the best written characters in game history really works in this game’s favour.
The dialogue between the characters is better than ever. With the 4 players, GLaDOS, Max and the odd peripheral, the whole game is very alive. The natural breaks and continuations in conversation add a lot and allow funny dialogues to persist between hands. There was one laugh out loud moment where Ash (voiced by a good Bruce Campbell impersonator) made a subtle Burn Notice reference. Cracked me up.
With the original, however, they could never write enough unique interactions before you start getting repeats. And with the slow, long, ongoing nature of the game, you will get bored of them. At least in the first, there was an option to disable the interactions. In this I resorted to muting them while watching TV.
The gameplay is still poker, but it isn’t a great poker sim. The 4 characters have distinct playstyles which, while realistic, makes them rather annoying and predictable. Ash will usually be the first to bust while Brock will fold or win. The ‘random’ cards vary from rigged against you to rigged for you, but maybe that’s just the nature of the game. It’s just that the regularity of the one card that’d beat me showing up in the river makes me pause and doubt.
The bounty challenges range from basic to interesting to almost impossible, but if you stick with it long enough and learn the terminology, you can do any of them. I actually have to thank this game for that last bit; I’ve never understood the terms used in poker, but I had to learn them to unlock all the items. The flop, the turn, hole cards, everything. It taught me well.
Overall, the characters are fun to listen to (at least for the first 6 hours) and the unlockable rewards for Borderlands 2 and TF2 give you something to aim for and take away. Once you’ve unlocked them though, there is very little reason to keep at it. Maybe if you particularly like a character playing, you could stick around to hear more, but there will be a limit to how many times their banter entertains you.
A decent poker game, well-written and with good other-game unlockables. Worth your time.