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Team Fortress 2

Review – Poker Night at the Inventory (PC)

Poker Night at the Inventory Title

Telltale Games | Nov 22, 2010

So Telltale games, makers of something like 90% of the Adventure games on the market (maybe) had an interesting idea. Why not take the idea of computer poker, and instead of playing against made up kooky PC characters you don’t recognizes, why not throw in a cast of known characters from popular games and nerd sites.

Thus, you end up with Poker Night at the Inventory. You play poker against Tycho from Penny-Arcade, The Heavy, of Team Fortress 2 Fame, Telltale’s defacto mascot, Max, from the Sam & max series, and Strong Bad from the popular web series Homestar Runner. I didn’t even realize Homestar Runner was still around personally but hey, whatevs.

The Poker part of the game is limited to Texas Hold Em style poker. It’s not a game style I’d played recently, most of my Poker experience is in Draw Poker. It’s not too difficult once you get the hand of it though I find the game is based a little more on chance than I care for. This brings up Poker Night’s biggest flaw. Texas Hold Em, as near as I can tell, is very much a game of bluffing. This could be pretty interesting with real humans to compete against since you can “read” them or whatever. When you’re playing against a bunch of computer controlled AIs, this thrill is almost non existent. The characters do have some built in little stories and tells but everything really just seems to be randomly played. It’s not real obvious who is bluffing and who has something.

This also works the other way. It’s pretty much impossible to truly bluff the PC AI. The closest I’ve found is that shoving your entire pot in at once will cause all of the characters to gasp and often will force them to fold. Often, but not always, and they will almost just as often bet it all and go bust with nothing. Someone needs to tell the AI that calling a bluff when you have even a pair is risky but doable, but calling a massive bluff with “queen high” then going bust is kind of a stupid move.

Speaking of the table chatter though. It gets old. There was a bug on the initial release that caused the dialogue to not be as random as it was supposed to be, but even with that bug fixed, hearing the same 2 or 3 stories out of the 4 characters gets a little old.

So you don’t have the risk of real money poker, but you do get the monotony of playing cards against a computer for nothing, which is fun for a bit but gets a little old after a while. Still, the game is extremely cheap and if you are into Team Fortress 2 you can earn some fun special items from the players so the $5 price point is pretty decent.The real missed opportunity here is in DLC. Telltale doesn’t seem to have any desire to push any sort of DLC fo this game but the potential is huge. Just think, for maybe another dollar each, they could add more character packs. Then each game could be built from 4 random characters from the pool. Even sticking with the pool of sources used, the obvious additions of Sam, Gabe, Any other TF2 Class, and Homestar Runner would be entertaining. Maybe they just charge another $5 for a new set + new play style. The option to pick between different Poker play styles would be another welcome addition.