Full House Poker Review (XBLA)

Posted by Jim Cook, Mar 16, 2011 08:53

Poker in almost any format is best played with other humans. Computers can do a decent job of providing you a challenge at these card games, but that removes the social element that is so important to the experience. Full House Poker seeks to resolve this, combining general Texas Hold ’Em play with avatar support and solid online play. With a large pool of prospective players (Xbox Live has no shortage of members who might purchase this game) alongside regularly scheduled ’Texas Heat’ events where players compete in what amounts to speed Poker to see who can play the best, this game is clearly meant to appeal to those who plan to play with others often.

The offline experience is acceptable, but definitely limited. It only supports one player (perhaps for obvious reasons), though it does offer a few different play formats between casual table play and more formal tournament structure and includes various cosmetic unlockables such as new outfits and casino decors to keep you interested. Various in-game help menus make it easy to play even if you’re only passingly familiar with Texas Hold ’Em rules, and spending a few sessions against the computer until you’re more used to the flow of the game may be a good idea. Along with conventional table play, Full House Poker also offers a series of one on one ’beat the pro’ events against the AI that show another side to this card game and they are reasonably interesting.

Single-player modes are really best used to build up a small bankroll for online play, which is where Full House Poker shines. It keeps the cards moving by imposing a quick but reasonable time limit on each player’s decisions, and this is doubly so in its regularly scheduled Texas Heat events where players compete to see who can make the most smart plays within a time limit. Winning multiple hands certainly helps your standings, but making smart choices is also rewarded in order to encourage good play rather than needlessly pursuing long shots. While these events have had some hiccups early on, future sessions seem to have been increasingly stable and Texas Heat sessions hold a great deal of promise. Regular online play is also pretty satisfying, and if the game ends up being popular then it should have no shortage of opponents to keep you busy.

Since poker is pretty easy to implement as a game, Full House Poker has to add things beyond the most basic flow of betting, folding, and trying to determine what your opponents are up to with their own hands. These aspects all work fine, and are joined by a basic expression system. Its most whimsical use is a series of ’chip tricks’ to pass time while waiting for your turn, but holding either trigger while choosing your action causes your avatar to show some emotion. Choosing to bet with one trigger can cause them to enthusiastically slam more chips into the pot, while the other trigger will show more hesitance in your actions; using neither trigger simply results in a calm version of the action. How useful this is in bluffing your opponents remains to be seen, but it is a good addition to the game in any event.

Ultimately, Full House Poker will have different value to you depending on whether you plan to play with others or not. If you prefer to stick to offline play, then Telltale’s "Poker Night at the Inventory" (admittedly a PC game) offers far more personality and humor. Yet if you are looking for a well presented, easily played online poker experience then this is probably what you want and its 800 Microsoft Point/$10 USD price is quite fair.

For more video game reviews on this and many others head to Game Rankings

Our Rating for Full House Poker Review (XBLA)
8.0 Replay
Multiplayer sessions with a good pool of players can be a lot of fun and should bring you back for more.
7.0 Graphics
While avatars aren’t the height of graphical sophistication, the menus and interface are very well laid out. Idle action around the table gives some ’life’ to the proceedings.
5.0 Sound
Decent sound effects of crowd noise and card activity are just that; decent. The ambient music is generally unremarkable but also not bad, adding up to a game whose sounds are bland yet acceptable.
7.0 Gameplay
A competent implementation of Texas Hold ’Em and passable offline play offer some fun even for solo players, though the social element provided by other humans is what really matters.
8.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
Easily the heart of the game, with regular scheduled Texas Heat events joined by normal play to keep Xbox Live users entertained.
7.5 Overall
Easily the strongest poker title on Xbox Live Arcade, Full House Poker is well worth picking up if you plan to play online often.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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