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Trevor Wagner

Poker Night at the Inventory Review (PC/Mac)

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What do the Max (of Sam & Max), Strongbad (of Homestar Runner fame), Heavy Weapons guy (from the RED team of TF2), and Tycho (one of the main characters from Penny Arcade) have in common? They all love high stakes poker, apparently. Poker Night at the Inventory is Telltale Games' latest release, pitting you and the four aforementioned characters against each other in a five-man game of Texas Hold 'Em. When the game was first released, many people weren't sure what to think of the idea, myself included. Now that the game is actually released, read on to see if the game is a straight, or if you should fold.

The premise is pretty simple – you and four popular characters play Texas Hold 'Em with each other. Each player starts with $10,000 to bet with, and the cards are dealt. The interface is fairly simple, with Fold, Check/Call, and Bet/Raise buttons, along with a slider bar to adjust your bet. The game does a good job of making it easy to play, and it succeeds. It's always clear what your options are, and there aren't really useless buttons or weird quirks; it's easy to sit down and play without having to learn complicated menus or anything of the sort. The actual mechanics of the game are pretty simple – it's poker. There are no power-ups, no special abilities; it's just poker.



The amount of polish that Telltale Games put into a $5 poker game is astounding. The characters all look like they came straight from their respective series', and move the way that you would expect them to. Admittedly, Tycho looks a little odd at first, especially if you played through On The Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Each character has unique, fitting, animations. Max dives onto the table and quickly scurries back to his seat with his earnings after winning a big pot, Heavy just kind of roughly throws chips on to the table, and Tycho occasionally rolls a d20 die to decide what he should do. On top of that, after one of the other players is eliminated, they get up form the table, and wander the area around the table. Strongbad plays on an arcade machine, Tycho sits at the bar, etc. To accentuate this, the writers seemed to have gone all out, because the writing is spot on. The humor from any character is what you would expect from their world, and the interactions between them are just phenomenal. There are three different table chat settings, which seem to change the frequency of the chatting, so you'll be able to find a level of conversation that works for you; and with the amount of lines each character has, you'll hear some be repeated, but not often enough for it to present a problem. Going hand in hand with this, the voice work is just as well done, but again, Tycho is the odd man out. That isn't to say that his voice acting is bad, because it's not, it's just that after reading Penny Arcade for years, you invent your own voice for Tycho, and it may not fit the voice used this time around. Again, that's not a bad thing, it's just something else you'll have to get used it. All of that to say, the amount of polish that was put into a game that costs less than a sandwich is pretty ridiculous, in all the right ways.

On top of that, Poker Night boasts a good variety of unlockables in the form of different poker tables, as well as different decks of cards to play with. None of them really change the game, but it's nice to be able to change it up every once in a while. For all of you Team Fortress 2 fans out there, Poker Night also has 5 unlockable items for use in TF2. Randomly, when starting up and buying into a game, a character will bet an item as collateral instead of trying to afford the buy in. Whoever knocks that player out of the game will be given the item as a reward, so your first goal in those situations tends to be to focus on knocking them out in any way you can. These items are just re-skins of the original items (except the “License to Maim,” which is a new item), but all of them are impressive, and are worth the effort of trying to get. (Writer's Note: Max puts up the Lugermorph as well as his badge, so if you missed out on getting the Lugermorph because you didn't buy Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, here's your chance.)



All in all, Poker Night at the Inventory is an entertaining romp, with fairly standard poker gameplay, plenty of unlockable items, including a handful for TF2, as well as great writing and animation to go along with it. It's thoroughly impressive how much work was put into Poker Night at the Inventory, and Telltale deserves your money for the experience. At $5, you can't really go wrong, but with all that Poker Night has to offer, $5 is a complete steal, and you'd be a fool to pass it up.


Trevor Wagner
Writer
TrevorW@GameGavel.com

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Updated 29-11-10 at 02:08 by Trevor Wagner

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Comments

  1. Mclean Oshiokpekhai's Avatar
    I whole heartedly recommend this game. I would nominate it for GOTY if I could.
  2. Trevor Wagner's Avatar
    Seriously, I can't get over the fact that I bought a game for less than a sandwich. And it was a GOOD game.

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