With the wallet crushing Steam Summer Sale now over, I started to look back over some of the games I’d picked up but not really got around to playing in my games list, and stumbled over Telltale Game’s Poker Night 2. Sure, there are lot’s of places online where you can pull up a virtual chair and learn how to play texas holdem poker, but they generally don’t let you play against your favourite video game characters, amd that’s where Poker Night 2 comes in.
The original ‘Poker Night at the Inventory’ had a number of interesting characters. The Heavy from Team Fortress 2, Max from Sam & Max, and Tyco from Penny Arcade, to name but a few. This new version switches things up, with Sam taking over from Max, Brock Samson from Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros, Ash from The Evil Dead (sadly not voiced by Bruce Campbell though), and Claptrap, the awesome little robot from the Borderlands making up your opponents. The brilliant GLaDOS from Portal also appears in a supporting role as dealer.
The gameplay is pretty much what you’d expect from a poker game. There is a choice of Texas Hold’em, or Omaha Hold ‘Em, with a detailed tutorial if you’re unfamiliar with the rules. However, Poker Night 2 also has some nice additional touches which separate it from your normal poker video game. The main one being the wonderfully scripted conversations between the players (and the homicidal dealer). Although this can be annoying if you’re trying to just skip through a quick hand, the cut-sequences are well put together, and totally in character for each of the players. The same goes for the play style. If you have played any of the ‘host’ games the characters come from, it may just give you a hint about how they’re likely to play. Another way to get hints on players is of course to spend a few tokens and buy a round of drinks. The drunker your opponents get, the more easily they give away their virtual ‘tells’.
Poker Night 2 isn’t really aimed at the hardcore poker player. More at the gamer that wants to kick back and shoot the breeze with some of gaming’s favourite characters. It’s nicely scripted, and does a good job of ratcheting up the tension at the right moments. It also provides players with a number of unique ‘unlockables’ for Team Fortress 2 and Borderlands, so if you’re a fan of either of those games, it could be worth dropping in for a hand or two.