World Series of Poker
Just as addictive as actual gambling minus the drained bank account, the divorce, and the loss of vital organs.
I don't know all that much about the nature of Texas Hold 'Em Poker or any kind of poker for that matter. That's because a few years ago, I accumulated a gambling debt that could be considered a pain in my ass, namely because I'm still trying to find a way to get it paid off. No, not to worry, it wasn't through some seedy loan shark who called "dibs" on a number of my organs, just my bank that seems to have the ability to charge a monstrous high-interest fee to my account each month. But enough about my problems, we're here to talk about how poker can actually bring a guy back into the fold without killing his wallet. Enter World Series of Poker.
The game is essentially the same as its console brethren that came out a month ago, only with a couple of subtle differences. In the game, you take control of a Rookie who you can modify to your liking, adding stylish things like a Scottish beard or sunglasses or even a thick texture to the skin, and then take them on a tour throughout a number of official World Series of Poker-endorsed casinos, taking on all sorts of huffy competitors as they seek to seep your cash out right from under you. Best of luck, right?
Fortunately, the game's AI feels just about balanced. Sure, there's a couple of calls that come out of left field, like someone who tries to call your bluff and then gets lucky on the river card (the last card laid down in a hand), sending you packing for your hotel room, but it remains pretty realistic. The game consists of you and a number of other NPCs hunched at a table, going one hand at a time and adding dramatic camera angles to catch reactions and moves of the players, whether they fold or raise. The character designs aren't too hot, but it is random, so you won't get wiped out by the same stupid old man time after time.
The graphics are pretty bland, as is the audio. There's very little music aside from what's in the menus. However, the game is loaded with enough variation to keep poker enthusiasts happy.
For instance, you can skip the Career Mode and jump right into an instant Texas Hold 'Em match for quick action, as well as create your own tournament with specific modifications. Some people won't dig it, but believe me, it's built with an audience in mind and it caters to them just as it should. There's also a new Video Poker mode, which takes you away from the tables and lets you play a couple variations of the Video Poker game, either typical or with Wild additions. I love the Deuces Wild mode myself, because I just keep getting two's.
Probably the biggest draw of World Series of Poker is the ability to play against others through the Wi-Fi connection. This adds some player interaction and makes the game more interesting, as you don't deal with bland AI but rather a living, breathing person who's in for the money just like you are. Of course, why you can't just get a deck of cards out for real and play is questionable, but what if you're in a bar? What if you have no cash? What if you don't want to owe your right leg to a big Italian named Vito? I rest my case.
World Series of Poker isn't a showcase title for your PSP, but then again, it's not designed to be. The game is entertaining enough to get your attention, and there's a lot of variety with the Career and Mulitplayer modes to get you into the big leagues. And hey, you don't have to worry about getting fitted for cement shoes later, am I right? I just wish the presentation was a bit more illustrious.
What's Hot: Using the WiFi connection for multiplayer.
What's Not: The presentation is really bland.