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Copyright 2005 IGN Entertainment, Inc.
August 28, 2005
World Series of Poker Hands-On Xbox
Author: Dale Nardozzi - "Legba"
Poker, poker, poker. Is there anything else on TV anymore?
We’re fans of playing Hold ‘Em when we have the time,
but what’s up with every channel - even the religious zealot
cable access station - having some type of poker show?
Ok, so one more poker
show means one less terrible reality show to drudge through, but
we digress. The popularity of poker online, in gambling-legal
states, and on television has spilled into the gaming arena of
course. We’re starting to lose track of the casino/hold
‘Em/poker games either previously released on or soon to
be coming to the Xbox, which means the market should be building
an ark in the near future.
It’s important to have some clout as this flood hits, for
being a no-name title will surely make the probability of being
washed away much higher. No worries for Activision and Left Field
Productions then, whose soon-to-be-released World Series of Poker
has perhaps the most storied and recognizable franchise behind
their effort. As we all know, high-profile backing won’t
fully make a title, but it sure can’t hurt in this cut throat
card game market. We got our hands on the tables to see if World
Series of Poker has the goods to back up its namesake. Post blinds
Save me a seat
The World Series of Poker is the grand daddy of all poker events,
and includes table games such as Texas Hold ‘Em, 7 Card
Stud, Omaha, and Razz. Of course, it’s the No Limit Texas
Hold ‘Em game, popularized most likely by the Hollywood
flick Rounders, which has sent this sport through the roof and
winning payouts for the 2005 WSOP in excess of seven million dollars!
The WSOP has been around for quite some time, but things such
as the World Poker Tour, celebrity tournaments, off-shore internet
casinos, and cable TV have all thrust the WSOP well into the limelight.
Now everyone thinks that they know what it takes to win, or, at
least feels like they have a shot to win…and they do. Many
amateurs look at internet poker as a means of sharpening their
skills, and actually, many of the recent tour and big event winners
have been straight from a broadband connection. Well, consider
World Series of Poker yet another way for poker players to sharpen
their skills for the real deal. Sure, World Series of Poker can
be just a means of passing the time, but we suspect those playing
this one (especially online) are practicing for something much,
much bigger; say, seven million times bigger?
In World Series of Poker, you’ll be faced with the best
possible reproduction of the actual Word Series event rounds,
and even be able to play with a full table (nine) of Xbox Live
opponents. While Xbox’ers won’t get the cool EyeToy
feature for tells - those mannerisms which give away if an opponent
is bluffing or not - we do have the ability to create our own
poker face and trigger certain looks through a created player.
Utilizing the same technology as in the Tony Hawk series, World
Series of Poker features an ultra-deep create-a-gambler, complete
with a vast array of basic human forms and features, and a slew
of wardrobe options. This system ensures that your online character
will be totally unique and better representative of the vast array
of characters which enter the WSOP every year.
Gamers will have full usage of their Xbox Live Communicator online,
which will end up being used as a tell system in itself. Strong
players are good enough to pick up slight variances in tone when
someone speaks, or pick up on nervous energy when a chump is jibber-jabbering
away. Expect a large amount of jawing during online matches in
World Series of Poker, and plan on the strong players to actually
use these “conversations” to their advantage, and
not just to let off some steam. The more competent players will
most likely be the ones collecting all of the “Reward Chips”
in World Series of Poker, which are basically used as payment
for landmark play. Those with enough of these chips will be invited
to private tournaments online, placing even more emphasis on the
elimination-style, multi-table format which has made the WSOP
so popular for all these years. Those who may not have what it
takes for the secret games can still track their progression and
statistics online with the online leaderboard system in World
Series of Poker.
We had fun playing World Series of Poker, especially since most
of us watch and someday dream of playing in the WSOP. When you
boil it down, a poker game with specific rules doesn’t change
drastically from title to title. It’s in the details where
one title separates itself from another. The advantage here is
that Activision’s/Left Field’s game is completely
backed by the WSOP, so there are many cool factors which are included
in with the typical table rules. For instance, the real-deal WSOP
announcer Lon McEachem does all the calls, and most all cam angles
and set designs have been plucked directly from the broadcasts.
You’ll also notice that many of the stars of the WSOP have
endorsed World Series of Poker, adding additional ambiance to
the production. The star of the show is Chris “Jesus”
Ferguson, and there are many more that have signed on to this
project as well.
In a crowded sea of poker
titles, it looks as though World Series of Poker has a good chance
of navigating the straight (oh my…bad pun) and making it
through the river (even worse). Keep a keen eye on TeamXbox.com
for the latest news on World Series of Poker, which is slated
for a September 13th release.
the World Wide Web on August 27, 2005:
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