Poker Night 2 Review

Great characters extend the fun only so far in this limited but amusing poker game.

by

If you've ever gathered around a table with a gang of buds who aren't particularly great at playing cards but still carry the evening with their oddball banter, then Poker Night 2 will feel very familiar. Serious poker playing often takes a backseat to the funny interactions that unfold between this group of likable misfits culled from a few well-known game and TV/film franchises. That's fine for the first few hours of entertaining antics, but as the jokes grow stale and the matches become more predictable, the charm fizzles, leaving you itching for actual human opponents to play against.

The quirky cast of characters is a real delight.

The original Poker Night at the Inventory sat you down at the card table with the Heavy from Team Fortress 2, Penny Arcade's Tycho, Max from Sam & Max, and Strong Bad from Homestar Runner for rounds of high-stakes Texas hold 'em punctuated by an abundance of wacky conversation. This time around, the return trek to the seedy underground nightclub sports an all-new cast with an equally unusual spread of characters. Brock Samson from The Venture Bros., Ash Williams from The Evil Dead, Claptrap from Borderlands, and Sam, the canine half of Telltale's anthropomorphic freelance police duo, make for a quirky crew to compete against. The addition of Portal's murderously passive-aggressive GLaDOS as the dealer rounds out the group perfectly. A humorous opening sequence leads you down into the Inventory, introduces the characters, and offers enough setup to give a touch of context to the proceedings. From there, it's time to throw down the chips and watch the silliness unfold.

Poker Night 2 sticks closely to the original game's format, though you do have the option of playing either Texas hold 'em or the somewhat more forgiving Omaha hold 'em. In either case, tournaments start with a $20,000 buy-in and progress across numerous hands until you either run out of cash and get knocked out or are the last one at the table. The AI does a decent job of betting and bluffing to keep hands interesting, and plying your opponents with inebriating beverages makes it easier to figure out their tells. That said, even when they're at full cognitive capacity, they rarely deliver the same level of challenge that you would get playing poker with even reasonably skilled human opponents. This likely won't be a big deal for less hardcore poker fans who are drawn in by the game's roster. The gameplay is enjoyable on a casual level, but it's really the characters you're playing against and their distinct personalities that make Poker Night 2 worth experiencing.

The casual storytelling vignettes, funny gags, and random conversations that strike up across the table throughout the course of each hand really make it feel like you're playing with a group of pals. Some of the dialogue is absolutely hilarious, while other jokes miss the mark by a hair. GLaDOS' presence is a particular delight, though her dialogue isn't quite as diabolical as her interactions in the Portal series, and she's subsequently less funny as a result. Claptrap is a hyperactive hoot that contrasts nicely with Brock's machismo, Ash's ramblings on demonic possession, and Sam's great one-liners. Well-written dialogue and immaculate voice work draw you into the near-constant character interactions--even to the point where you stop playing at times just to pay attention to what the characters have to say.

Sam smells victory.

Unfortunately, some of the humor relies too heavily on being familiar with the characters' backstories and the franchises they're pulled from. The other problem is that the dialogue grows repetitious quickly. The audio gags and discussions are amusing the first time you hear them, but they get annoying when you start hearing the same ones over and over again from one tournament to the next. While there is a lot of variety, the game burns through its stock of laughs quickly if you play a few tournaments back-to-back, since recycled phrases and stories pop up after only a couple of hours of play.

Despite its repetitive nature and limited scope, Poker Night 2 does have lots of replay value, thanks to plenty of in-game unlockables and extras. Even when you lose, playing a tournament earns you tokens based on your performance. These can be spent on drinks for opponents to give yourself the upper hand, or you can buy chip sets, tables, and other gameplay elements themed after the featured characters. Completing specific challenges within a tournament also gives you a shot at winning each character's special item, and it's possible to unlock accessories to use in Borderlands 2. Additionally, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 owners can open up Team Fortress 2 items, Xbox Avatars, and premium themes, respectively. While these perks aren't a huge reward, they do offer some added incentive to keep playing.

Even nifty card-dealing robot arms can't prevent the poker from getting stale after a little while.

A great mix of characters and ample personality give Poker Night 2 some strong pull in its early stretches. The poker play works well enough to keep you trucking along to hear all of the funny tales and to experience the dialogue vignettes. Though the outlandish character interactions are the highlight, the lack of multiplayer feels like a huge missed opportunity. Once you've seen the game's breadth of character interactions and unlocked a few extras, there's not much reason to stick around. Therefore, you'll get a lot more mileage out of Poker Night 2 in short bursts. It's fun while it lasts, but that's not very long to begin with.

The Good
Great mix of iconic characters
Well-written voice work and excellent dialogue
A good range of unlockable extras
The Bad
No options to increase the challenge level
Repetition sets in after a few hours
No multiplayer at all
7
Good
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40 comments
PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

Telltale Games should take their hat off and go to tourney around game companies. Ask for permission to use Mario, Master Chief, Kratos, Solid Snake, Heihachi, Link, Ezio, Shepard, Gordon Freeman, Alan Wake, Agent 47, Sonic...

Then release a full priced game with the poker participants being randomized from the roster of 100 players. Now that would be interesting.

Poodlejumper
Poodlejumper

So it doesn't have multi-player.  So what?  

The other players are well-loved characters.  So what?  The characters are why you should be playing the game!  They're the selling point!

Not like there's not a million real poker places online.  You want multi-player?  Go for it there.

Xyllix
Xyllix

Wow it's single player? Fuck that, I'll stick to PSHome Poker.

daviz88
daviz88

look there nothing that will make play this game. i mean seriously using the enormous powers of the PS3 & PC to play poker, this belongs in Facebook and mobile.

Kaz32
Kaz32

Its funny that this guy said the game is shallow and the same as las year. Its POKER, every damn poker games are always the same. this time the new unlockable decks actually adds extra dialogues for each characters, and there's the omaha poker play, which is pretty difficult to do.

Oil_Rope_Bombs
Oil_Rope_Bombs

According to everyone, Single Player Poker = Worst thing ever.

Venom_Raptor
Venom_Raptor

Of all the games that have pointless, tacked-on multiplayer, this is one which really deserves it. Having a poker night with friends, plus these cool characters would be a lot of fun. Shame

Jd1680a
Jd1680a

Poker is considered as a Puzzle game?

Pukshd
Pukshd

Oh no, ClapTrap?! Whyyyyyyy?!

jhjsaat
jhjsaat

Wait a sec they put Ash Williams from The Evil Dead in the game and not got Bruce Campbell to do the voice?!! Wow...

AW-1243
AW-1243

Come on guys this character is awesome its kind of like a challenge 

Tripwolf
Tripwolf

I've had a lot of fun with this game. Definitely 5 bucks well spent.

Lhomity
Lhomity

No online multiplayer for a poker game, is kind of a let-down. Were they concerned that some players might gamble real money with it?


leikeylosh
leikeylosh

Ironically, I simply stopped winning after getting the Necronomicon from Ash. I didn't win any tournament after this. I was losing even if I had a pair of aces from the start. I gave up after a lot of tries. I think his curse passed on to my player. LOL

TheKeef
TheKeef

Don't be scared of the chips... now repeat this 1000 times. You know the audio word for word now, congratulations.

This isn't sarcasm, unless you plan to eliminate Sam, every game, first person out.

BrunoFurstBrito
BrunoFurstBrito

   "Well-written voice work and excellent dialogue". Isn't this wrong?

pal_080
pal_080

Gotta love poker... but I'm not sure about a poker game without any multi-player, that sounds like a giant misstep!

ZOD777
ZOD777

Repetition within the first few hours?  More like in the same single tournament.  There are only about 10 lines for each character, maybe more when you consider the side conversations.  That isn't the worst of it though.  The poker is horrendous, to absolutely brutal.  CPU will call with absurd hands like 2 5 offsuit on an all in bet preflop, then hit 2 pair or trips.  Then later on, you might get called by 10 4 offsuit on a huge river bet, the 10 4 having missed pairing, and never had a draw, 2 overcards to the 10 on board.  WTF?  This game is fun for about 2-3 hours, then you just want them to shut the hell up and play instead of making a comment every single time it is their turn.

AntauriX22
AntauriX22

I was honestly hoping for a multiplayer component this time around. Just imagine how great it would be if a bunch of players put up their TF2 items as buy-ins for a round of high stakes poker. But then again gambling rights and other bullshit would probably be an issue...

vallee05
vallee05

This was a nice stealthy game, with good story and grpahics for the time. I would like to see aother sequel to this on this gent consoles or next gen consoles

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Well I'm enjoying the game - might have gone 7.5 or 8 myself although no multiplayer is an odd omission IMO

JFERNANDEZ84
JFERNANDEZ84

Great game. It deserved a 8.0 in my opinion.

andres_ak47
andres_ak47

claptrap: "Everyone can win with that hand. Even Steve. And all he can say is ""heyyoo"!
steve: "heyyoo!"
claptrap: "Shut the #&% up Steve! seriously and people say that I'm annoying!"

PcGamingRig
PcGamingRig

no multiplayer in a poker game = criminal. :P

b74kd3th
b74kd3th

OMG a facking 7?! Fuck this reviewer and the toilet he shits in

SteamyPotatoes
SteamyPotatoes

Disappointed no multiplayer for a game like this, would have bought it otherwise.

r3v3nant_1
r3v3nant_1

This game is absolutely worth the $5 I payed fore it.

MAD_AI
MAD_AI

Playing poker with Ash, that's so....Awesome!

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

A Poker game without multiplayer is a little odd to me.  They get huge nerd points for adding Brock Samson though D:

TheKeef
TheKeef

@BrunoFurstBrito 

Several friends of mine own this, and not one has said the dialogue is great, after the first go round or two. Literally in two plays you will exhaust most of the dialogue, the rest is unlockable and whatnot.

cryo-mesmer
cryo-mesmer

@ZOD777agreed,  yet this game scored higher than Dead Island Riptide.

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

@ZOD777 That was actually a pretty accurate description of the entire game.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@r3v3nant_1 Yeah, but its normal price is $10, which is a bit too high for just two types of poker.

Stebsis
Stebsis

@r3v3nant_1 I agree, but it still could've had a bit more stuff in it, like multiplayer.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@2bitSmOkEy  The next Poker Night should have someone from Metalocalypse or Aqua Teen Hunger Force. 

Poker Night 2 More Info

First Release on Apr 24, 2013
  • iPhone/iPod
  • Macintosh
  • + 3 more
  • PC
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
Poker Night 2 is the sequel to Poker Night where you play poker with a bunch of "weirdos" officially licensed, triple 'A' characters such as Claptrap, Brock Samson, Ash Williams, and Sam.
6.7
Average User RatingOut of 77 User Ratings
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Developed by:
, Telltale Games
Published by:
Telltale Inc, Telltale Games
Genres:
Gambling
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
All Platforms
Simulated Gambling, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence