With so many ways to play casino games on the Internet free of charge, does the world really need a game like Caesars Palace 2000? The answer is most definitely yes, followed by some very big ifs: if it has a great tutorial to teach the ins and outs of gaming odds and strategy; if it manages to create the sensation of gambling at one of the world's most famous and glamorous casino resorts; and if it offers an easy way to compete against fellow players in games like poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, and minibaccarat. Unfortunately, Caesars Palace 2000 doesn't provide any of these features - and what it does offer is spoiled by its lousy documentation, Spartan production values, and an interface that's so awkward and unintuitive that it'd make even a big winner think about joining Gamblers Anonymous.
One of the greatest casino simulations ever made, 1992's Beat the House, featured not only an extensive in-game tutor that explained what you should do and why you should do it, but also a thick handbook explaining the intricacies of winning at favorites like craps and blackjack. In the nine years since then, no other casino sim has come close to offering that level of tutelage - and Caesars Palace 2000 is no exception. The manual merely explains each game in the most rudimentary fashion, and in particular, it completely misses the boat in describing craps. For starters, it says that craps rolls are automatic losses for you, when in fact these numbers pay double on field bets (there are also other craps bets that are winners), and they aren't losers if you don't have a bet on the pass or come line. It also says that you need to keep rolling until the dice hit the point, seven, eleven, or a craps, at which point the dice are passed to the next shooter. But once a point's established, you need to keep rolling those bones until you hit a seven - end of story.
The lack of guidance in the manual could be overlooked if there were a great in-game tutorial, but all you get in the way of advice is terse verbiage such as "You should have put a bet on the pass line (conservative right bettor)" or "You picked the wrong hand - it won only 18 percent of the time." It's not the sort of thing to help you gain a full understanding of a complex game like craps or to help you grasp the reasoning behind why a particular two-card hand in Video Hold'em is better than another.
The tutorial has other problems. In craps, the tutor will gladly let you place ridiculously stupid wagers like place bets, hard-way bets, and any craps bets that give the house a major advantage (perhaps in hopes that you'll do so in real life at Caesars Palace). Most of the advice in blackjack is sound, but occasionally you'll see questionable tips that demand a little more explanation than is provided, such as split a pair of twos when the dealer shows a four, or double on an eleven when the dealer shows an ace. When you play roulette, the tutor will tell you not to make a top-line bet - without explaining what the heck that means. Of course in some games such as keno and slots, there's not much need for a tutorial because your only hope is sheer, blind luck. But experienced casino players know the two best chances of beating the house are at craps and blackjack, so Caesars Palace 2000 should have done a better job at delivering in-depth guidance on these two games; after all, you might use the game for practice before trying the real thing.
Caesars Palace 2000 doesn't even play well. The developers took the cheap way out by opting for a keyboard-only interface, thus displaying obeisance to the game's console roots, which is both aggravating and perplexing. Instead of being able to easily grab chips and click buttons to get the action rolling, you must use arrow keys (and the backspace key instead of the escape key to cancel functions), which results in slow-moving gameplay that's confusing and unwieldy.
It's also highly difficult to set the default-betting unit in games such as craps, roulette, blackjack, pai-gow poker, and others. The default unit is a dollar (at least at the start of your "career"), and it can't be cleared or changed to another chip. So to switch to a $50 bet, you have to work your way up by selecting four additional $1 chips, then four additional $5 chips, and finally one more $25 chip. There has to be an easier method of raising your bet, with or without mouse support.
Caesars Palace 2000 doesn't even have an autosave for your character, and you're not prompted to save your progress when you exit the game - so if you aren't careful, you might inadvertently lose all the cash you've won and the progress you've made toward joining the VIP club. Furthermore, the card graphics in blackjack are fuzzy at a distance, so you can't really see what you've got until the perspective zooms in - but then you can't see the dealer's cards, and you must check out a text display of what the house is showing. The display works, but it doesn't make you feel as though you're at a blackjack table.
The game also only offers single-odds craps, whereas most casinos have several variants. Craps in Caesars Palace 2000 is played from the shooter's perspective, but the perspective is so low that you can't see what's been rolled until the croupier pushes the dice to you with the stick. Otherwise, the game has just five slot machines, but that's a minor problem because the only challenge to slots is having enough arm strength to pump coins into the one-armed bandits - and there aren't any arms on these.
Caesars Palace 2000 does have several silly video poker games like Hold'em and Stud, but these games are robbed of their charm because there aren't any betting rounds. Caesars Palace also offers Casino War, which is merely the same simple game you might have played as a kid. But the most damning problem of all is that nothing about the game actually makes you feel as if you're at Caesars Palace. All you get are the tables and machines - no spectators, no crowd noise, no toga-clad bellboys or waitresses, no light shows or moving statues, nothing. So unless you find a nine-year-old copy of Beat the House, you'll be better off looking for free online versions of the various games contained in Caesars Palace 2000 - or waiting for another, better casino game to come around.