Poker Night 2 Review – When “Just Poker” is Not Enough
At the start of April I noticed a special offer sale for Poker Night at the Inventory and its sequel, Poker Night 2. Aside from the shorter name what caught my interest are the characters who would be entertaining us during the game this time. We would have Brock Sampson (from the Venture Bros Series), Claptrap (From Borderlands 2), Ashley Williams (From The Evil Dead) and Sam (From Sam and Max), with Glados acting as the Dealer. While waiting for Poker Night 2 I decided to play as much of Poker Night at the Inventory as possible and I was pleasantly surprised. The humour was rich and interesting, the inter-changeable decks, table covers and chips added something interesting to the game, and the random occasional rewards spiced things up for my Team Fortress 2 account. I had one major issue with Poker Night at the Inventory, and that would be the surprising Hardware strain on my Laptop. I was armed with similar expectations when I finally entered Poker Night 2, and I was very pleasantly surprised.
Poker Night 2: Mainly for “Pros”?
I am not a professional Poker player, even though I did play it online, for free, not for real cash either, for a number of years. I mainly played Texas Hold’Em so that is what I was prepared to play (since the first Poker Night had only Texas Hold’em). Here it was no different. It was your traditional Texas Hold’Em, with one difference, the buy-in and stakes were twice as big. That fooled me at first. I was overly confident and during my first hour of gameplay I got dragged into a huge “debt”. As I started to learn from my mistakes, and practiced by the end of the first evening I gathered three of the five trophies and all but one of the full “Sets” of unlockables. Today in the morning I got the fourth collectable and I am sure that I would fully complete the game (with all of its achievements) either today or tommrow. What my initial experience made me want to do is to reduce the difficulty, since that was possible in Poker Night 1. It turned out there was no such option. If you are “bad” in gambling games then I imagine Poker Night 2 will be extremely difficult for you.
I was genuinely afraid I would not get any of the trophies, or even win a tournament, but the longer I played the more I figured the game out, and my opponents. They are not as cunning as they look. The game features a tutorial, so if you are new to Poker you will have an opportunity to start from the basics, however the game itself might be hard if you are completely new to Poker. I am mixed here. Is this game for experienced players or for everybody? I will stay by my view that it’s mainly for those who already played Poker in some form, rather than for complete beginners.
Here I should also mention that aside from Texas Hold’Em you also have Omaha Hold’em. Very similar rules but the main difference is that instead of two cards in your hand you will have four, so games might become far easier or much harder, depending on how good you are.
Poker Night 2: What is it about?
In Poker Night 2 you are “The Player”. You come to the Inventory to take part in Poker Tournaments. That’s the gist of it. From dialogues with other characters you learn that you are in some way privilaged, and that the owner of the Inventory tries to safeguard you from harm. That pretty much sums up the backstory to Poker Night 2 (it’s surprising there is one!) so let us talk about the game mechanics.
Each Tournament is played between the player and the four other characters. The aim is to eliminate all the other players. In Poker Night 1 that was all you did, with the small chance that a player would “cash-in” a special item you could win, for TF2. In Poker Night 2 the story is a bit different. After your first game you will be introduced to the Challenge Randomizer. In order to play for a Trophy/Collectable you will have to complete three random tasks. These might be trivial, such as buying two other players drinks, or demanding in terms of both skill and luck, such as winning three pots in a row or activating a specific “Gaming Set”. Once all three challenges are complete your next tournament will be played for one of five trophies.
As long as you are not eliminated as the first player you will win Inventory Tokens. These Tokens are used to purchase new Card Decks, Table Toppers and Chips. If you activate all three elements from a set the room you are playing in will also change to fit the specific theme, and the player associated with that theme will have a slightly different appearance. The music will also change, and I must say that playing against Brock in a one on one Showdown in a Sam and Max “40s” Interior, with Jazz playing in the background, is a wonderful experience.