World Series of Poker: Full House Pro
- Street Date:
- September 4th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Nick Hartel
- Review Date:1
- September 14th, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox 360
- Microsoft Game Studios
- Pipeworks Software
- ESRB Rating:
- T (Teen)
In 2011, Microsoft Game Studios released 'Full House Poker' a full-featured Xbox Live Arcade title that allowed players to not only play single-player poker action but more importantly, multiplayer game play that allowed casual social games or full-fledged tournament mode action. Two years later, following semi-regular DLC for 'Full House Poker,' the spiritual successor arrives on the Xbox Live Arcade in the form of 'World Series of Poker: Full House Pro' a (currently) free-to-play multiplayer-centric title that brings with it the commercial license of the world’s biggest professional poker organization.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
To be fair and honest, 'World Series of Poker: Full House Pro' (henceforth referred to as FHP) is, at its core exactly what you’d expect from a poker title. All the basic, required mechanics are present, from casual play to the more appealing tournament mode. While this sounds like a hard concept to screw up, FHP is not without some glaring negatives, namely, a sometimes-clunky user interface and some aggravating lag issues that can plague online play. Additionally, while FHP may come with the impossible to resist price tag of absolutely nothing, as is the case with such games these days, those willing to shell out real money for the game’s premium in-game currency are able to access additional features otherwise impossible to obtain.
The freemium model is most evident in the game’s robust in-game store allowing users to customize their character and gaming experience in every way. While you initially start with your standard Xbox Live avatar, FHP offers in-game exclusive clothing items, different table felts, a wide assortment of card designs, avatar chip animations (think Val Kilmer in 'Tombstone'), and the game’s most irritating addition: XP boosts. The designers were smart in thinking some players may need intrinsic motivation beyond just boosting their overall chip stack and implemented a very basic leveling system with XP being awarded from tasks as simple as posting a blind to folding early.
Those not satisfied with merely grinding their way to the top can spend a portion of their in-game chip stack or the more valuable 'gold' to purchase premium items, generally represented as food-and-drink that grants XP boosts for a specific time frame (usually x-number of hands). Players feeling extra generous can buy these items, store them up, and should they so chose, bestow them on other players at the table (one in-game achievement requires this very action).
The World Series of Poker license does quite a bit though to overshadow the annoying XP-boosting mechanic and adds a lot of atmosphere to an otherwise basic game. The actual gameplay doesn't require much use of the controller aside from selecting an option and pressing 'A,' although it has to be pointed out that the betting mechanic is rather clunky, especially when faced with a sometimes, way too short, inactivity timer counting down your turn. Yes, you can pre-set your bet, but should things change drastically, (i.e. the pot is raised more than you were expecting) that last minute decision could be quite chaotic. Adding to this are some lag issues (due to players with less than ideal connection) that end up sapping away a few seconds of your own turn at times. They aren-t game breaking issues, but are noticeable enough that no one will ever mistake FHP for an A-list title, let alone the definitive Xbox Live online poker experience.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The graphics of FHP are, well, honestly, merely acceptable, with in-game characters being little more than each user's individual avatar. The actual in-game action offers players a number of camera choices, with only one or two truly being acceptable. The rest of the game design fits the aesthetic of using the avatars and makes for a cartoonish, but inviting playing atmosphere. Fortunately, this also means glaring graphical hiccups (screen tearing or framerate drops) are a non-issue, with only occasional loading lag providing a less than seamless transition.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The audio side of FHP is perfectly in stride with the graphics, consisting of innocuous atmospheric effects and canned, corny music. In-game narration from World Series of Poker announcers is a nice touch but becomes quickly repetitive. Honestly, I wouldn't fault anyone for muting the in-game audio and putting on their own music, because aside from chatting with other players in game, the sound design of FHP barely registers on the radar.
If you’re looking for a casual, poker diversion, FHP will do wonders to satisfy that itch. The tournament aspect alone is worth playing the game for on its own, while achievement hounds will definitely find this to be a game requiring grinding. FHP has a little more ways to go though before it could ever be classified as the Xbox poker experience that draws in both the casual player and seasoned poker pro in equal numbers.
The very idea of FHP being a generally free-to-play title makes it instantly appealing, and it is a bit shocking given that studio went the extra mile of getting the World Series of Poker license. As it stands now, it’s a fun time-waster, but not something I’d recommend to a serious poker player looking to kill a lot of hours. The lag issues and clunky loading are really the only things that makes this feel like a 'free' game. Unless a future patch fixes those issues, I couldn't recommend shelling out extra cash for premium in-game features, especially since most are cosmetic in nature (call me old-fashioned, but the leveling system just doesn't do it for me). FHP is a nice follow-up to its predecessor and the raw materials show the making of a solid, social gaming franchise.
- Digital Download
- Dolby Digital 5.1
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