Developer: Telltale Games
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

PokerNight2-8Poker Night 2 brings together Brock Samson from Venture Bros. (which has a season premiere very soon!), Claptrap from Borderlands, Ash Williams from the Evil Dead series (not voiced by Bruce Campbell, unfortunately), and Sam from Telltale’s own Sam and Max to play some high-stakes poker. Oh, and GLaDOS from Portal is the dealer. Moxxxi from Borderlands makes a silent cameo as the bartender. It’s a basic game of poker, with both Texas hold ‘em and Omaha hold ‘em (like Texas hold ‘em but with four dealt cards, two of which can be played with the community cards). However, the fun comes as much from getting to experience the witty banter from these cross-media characters meeting up.

Each character has their own playing style and personality that must be considered when playing against them. Ash is rather cocky and willing to bluff a lot. Claptrap really seems to only like to play when he has good hands, being extremely conservative. Brock will go hard when he has a good hand, but will bluff occasionally. Sam…I can’t quite figure him out but he does seem to be a bluffer. Ash scares me the most because he matches my own play style.

PokerNight2-9The banter between characters is a large part of the fun here. References to each franchise are made, so those who love each series will find plenty to be amused by, but the writing is generally funny enough that even if unfamiliar with a character, players will still generally understand the humor. The dialog can get repetitive after a long time playing, however. I’ve played a bunch of the PC version and noticed some new dialog here. Also, some cutscenes aren’t skippable, which just breaks up the flow of the game when trying to get to the next hand.

The Inventory tokens that are earned for doing well can be spent either on drinks for the other players to try and pry their secrets out, or to spend them on new designs for the decks, felts, and chips. It’s worth buying them in sets because they change the poker room into one designed after that theme, with new events and dialog that occur. For example, the Venture Bros. set features a particularly faulty teleporter from the show. It’s great fanservice for each series. The chips can’t be bought with IAP, either–they have to be earned.

Of course, winning isn’t easy. I recommend periodically sticking around after some losses just to watch the players interact with each other. Their traits may just be easier to discover when just observing. Performance-wise, the game has occasional framerate hitches on the iPhone 5, but it actually runs better than it does on my Surface Pro.

If playing poker with Brock Samson sounds like fun, then, well, Poker Night 2 is well worth a download.

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