TellTale Games’ Poker Night At The Inventory 2 has many flaws with its PlayStation 3 version, thanks to major technical issues and repeating lines of dialogue but every once in a while, this game is incredibly addictive and wonderful to play when you want something other than an action packed fighter or shooter.
When you first play Poker Night 2, you will be guided into a swanky bar called the Inventory, which hosts various characters from various games, movies and television shows for poker matches and drinks. In a beginning sequence of events, you will meet Claptrap from Borderlands, Brock Samson from The Venture Bros, Sam from Sam and Max and Ash Williams from Army of Darkness. From herein, they all decide to begin a poker tournament and discuss their lives or question each other’s appearance/work during a “friendly” game. Portal’s GLaDOS also joins in as the card dealer. The most redeeming factor of this game is the hilarious banter between these characters. Brock Samson hating Claptrap’s voice, everyone asking if Sam is a dog and Sam questioning how Claptrap is standing on one wheel is so interesting and humorous to listen to. Who isn’t funny, however, is GLaDOS who constantly interrupts the game to mock you. Some people may like the sarcastic nature of the character but for those who hate this robot, this may be a major negative factor. Sadly, there is another fault with the game as you hear the same jokes being repeated over and over. Every 10-20 minutes, the player could hear the same dialogue twice. It was funny the first time but after the 10th round of poker, this becomes aggravating especially if GLaDOS cuts in time and time again with the line, “Wow, that movie won’t bite you in your ample posterior” with yet another sarcastic tone. Poker Night 2 has its moments with TellTale Games’ world class script writing but after playing your first 10 rounds of poker, you will want to turn off the voices altogether because of its repetitive nature.
What will keep you playing Poker Night 2, on the other hand, is how the game is presented and the replayability this product offers from its unlockables. TellTale Games have made all these different characters mesh well on screen while having them look like their counterparts from their respective properties. There is much attention to detail with the Inventory as well, with Moxxi in the background serving drinks from the bar, jazzy counterparts to the soundtracks of the characters and the unlockable ability to change the environment which matches The Inventory to the worlds that Sam, Brock, Claptrap, Ash and GLaDOS reside from. While on the topic of unlockables, the bar can be changed if you obtain the different chips, decks and felts from one specific franchise. From these different surroundings, events happen to certain characters which would not happen in a normal setting so this leaves much replayability on the table. Plus, when achieving specific goals the game sets, you have the chance to win a prized possession of each character and if you succeed, you can unlock Borderlands 2 content with dynamic themes for your PlayStation 3. That’s as far as this review will go on the topic of unlockables to avoid spoilers but rest assured that these features of the game have made me addicted to playing Poker Night 2.
Despite the excellent offerings of unlockables and the hilarious banter between the characters of the game, Poker Night 2 really suffers from having major technical issues that need to be fixed. First, is the constant freezing of the game when the PS3 auto-saves and after 10 seconds, the action boots back up. This issue breaks up the conversations that the characters make, leaving the player confused. This issue happens very often you will ponder on whether or not to play a real game of poker, trying out a different game or buying the cheaper $5 PC version. This problem can be fixed by holding down the “home” button and them returning to the game but this bothersome issue should be fixed as soon as possible. Second, are the audio hiccups that the game sometimes has. Occasionally, there is no sound coming out of a character’s mouth, an awkward linking of words (as I was saying…so…) or robotic repetition of a character’s speech pattern/hanging at a note from the game’s musical score for around 5 seconds. The ironic thing is that this is often a joke that TellTale Games have intentionally placed for Claptrap as he malfunctions at many times of a conversation.
These five technical issues have plagued the game heavily but Poker Night At The Inventory 2 still is a blast to play when everything works right. Both Texas Hold’em Poker and No Limit Omaha are in this game and even though, I will not explain the rules of poker in this review, be rest assured that Poker Night at the Inventory 2 sufficiently teaches a newcomer the basics. With $100,000 on the line, games can become fierce. You can give characters drinks so they can admit what they have in their hand and their facial expressions sometimes give you a chance to see if they’re bluffing. Also, keep in mind that TellTale Games seem to have brought all the characters’ quirky personalities in the game. Sam, for example, is laid back and usually doesn’t bet unless he’s got a good hand. Brock Samson, however, likes to be blunt and is very aggressive with his betting. These are great touches that TellTale have added to this Poker Night and the exhilarating game of Poker is elevated within this title.
While there are the occasional slip ups with the audio work, the voice acting and the music are top notch. Hearing a jazz arrangement of Borderlands’ Short Change Hero is incredibly cool and if you are a Portal fan, there also is a version of Still Alive. The little nods that Jared Emerson Johnson have brought from other franchises is an incredible work of fan service for those who love all five characters in Poker Night 2. It’s a shame, however, that this music is somewhat spoiled when the game stutters and hangs at the same note for around 5 seconds. What TellTale Games have gotten right, on the other hand, is the excellent voice work. The characters within Poker Night 2 sound authentic from their original series and the voice actors truly get the comedy timed right.
TellTale Games’ Poker Night At The Inventory 2, has many technical issues such as 10 second freezing and the occasional audio hiccup but the cool unlockables, the hilarious banter between characters and attention to detail with the design really make the game of Poker shine. If you have a good PC, however, I would recommend purchasing Poker Night 2 on Steam for $5 rather than the buggy $10 PlayStation Network version.