Telltale Games' Poker Night 2 is the sequel nobody asked for, but is an interesting game nonetheless. Where else can you see a gathering of all-stars from video games, movies, and television all in one place, shooting the breeze and playing cards? The title has finally made it to iOS, about a month after the console version. So is the game worth anteing up and downloading? Or should we just fold and call it quits while we're ahead.
At it's heart, Poker Night 2 is more than just a card game; it's the chance to unwind and relax with some stars from across different forms of media. You'll have the company of GLaDOS from Portal, Brock Samson from The Venture Bros. TV show, Ashley Williams from the Evil Dead films, Sam (and sometimes Max) from the classic Sam & Max adventure games and television series, and Claptrap from the Borderlands game series.
With such a varied cast around, you better believe you'll hear some colorful conversations and strange banter as cards are dealt and chips are shuffled around. These characters and their interactions are the main draw of the game and will keep you playing hand after hand, just to see new conversations pop up.
But again, this is a poker game, so expect to play a lot of poker in order to get these characters' jaws yammering. You'll be able to pick between Texas Hold 'Em and Omaha at the start of every match-up, so you better bring the goods. Each game plays like a tournament, just like the ones you might have seen on ESPN, except the money's not real and no one will be able to read your tells, because.. ya know.. they're not real.
On the plus side, you are totally capable of reading everyone else's tells. Each character has an animation that is a telltale sign (see what I did there?), that they have either an amazing hand or a worthless assortment of cards in front of them. In order to get these tells to show more often, you can purchase drinks from the lovely Mad Moxxi and give them to the other players to act as truth serum. Strong observational skills will ensure that you'll be able to tell what kind of hand each player has, though it's decidedly more difficult to read Claptrap since he lacks a face.
Once you win your first tournament, you'll open up the game's Bounties, which act as mini in-game achievements. Once you meet the requirements for all three of them, you'll get the chance to win a rare item from a character, such as the Necronomicon from Ash or a Spike VGA statuette from Claptrap. This is the game's one disappointing feature, since winning these items doesn't unlock a cross-platform item the way that the console versions of Poker Night 2 does. In the iOS version, these prizes are more like meaningless trophies that you can parade around in front of whoever cares for bragging rights.
With only two modes of play and no real incentives, like cross-platform unlocks, available to keep you playing, you might be wondering why I rated the iOS version a little higher than its console brethren. Well, put simply, it's because you can take all of the poker-playing goodness and console-sized hilarity with you.
Poker Night 2 for iOS is a great looking game that runs well, packs in all of the great conversations and music from the console version (the jazzy version of Borderlands 2's theme, Short Change Hero, is amazing), and delivers an addictive experience that you can take on the go. And you can try calling my bluff, but I'll probably too busy to care since my head will be buried in my iPad screen, waiting to catch Brock Samson's tells.
App Store Link: Poker Night 2 for iPhone & iPad | By Telltale Inc. | Price: $4.99 | Version: 1.0 | 457 MB | Rating 17+