Texas Cheat 'Em Review
We've all watched those poker tournaments on TV, and most likely all tried to play. But the world of poker is not kind to the waves and waves of noobs who think they are the next King of Poker just because they watched it on TV a few times. Enter Texas Cheat'Em by Wideload Games which combines poker with microgames to create a surprisingly engaging game.
For a downloadable game that costs around $10, you should not expect much in the presentation. The backgrounds, avatars, and graphics, sadly, do not help the game in staying power – same goes for the generic few music tracks. As far as flare, this game goes for the extreme simple look with scarce animations. And there are only three game modes: practice, career, and multiplayer. For $50 this game would be horrible for these few points alone, but for $10 it's just $5 too much for these production values.
But the heart of Cheat'Em is in the micro games, which are also the cheats. The cheats are more like hurdles between pure luck and you building a winning hand. Without them you would be going on pure luck because the rules of poker only apply in the cards dealt and the rankings of hands. By using the cheats you can steal chips, make new cards, see future cards, fake tells, guarantee a win, and even put up cheats to counter cheaters. These cheats lead to one of a number of mini games which you must win, or else the cheat fails. They could be dice, blackjack, roulette, slots, and several other micro games that take no more than a few seconds to complete so as to not hold up the game too long. Cheat points keep rampant cheating in check, with the cheats having values in points so as to prevent too many of the powerful cheats from happening too often – losing takes still takes away the points, while winning consumes your use of some cheats. It is without a doubt a unique balance of abilities, which if used correctly can turn any garbage hand into a chance of winning a share of the pot, or at least leaving with some chips. And needless to say, it makes for chaotic multiplayer games, well, if anyone else is on (perhaps for online players, Xbox Live would be a better option).
It's a double-edged sword however, because while the cheats are the game and
make it different than any other poker game, you cannot play regular poker. The
gimmick does last longer than a few plays thanks to the single-player game where
you try to complete simple and challenging objectives, where the goals don't
take as long as if you were to actually complete every game to hold all chips.
And you even unlock some rewards for them, such as online money, avatars, and
new backgrounds. The thing is, even though there are plenty of standard poker
video games, some for free, it would be nice to at least have the option to turn
off the cheats. Especially for non-online players, the chance to play NPCs in
standard poker could greatly help this game in staying power.
Troubles with the Steam client aside, Texas Cheat'Em is a fun game, one that without question could be one of the more entertaining attempts at bridging the gap between real poker and video game poker. Unfortunately, Cheat'Em burns that bridge and forces you to play its game and its game only. If Wideload had just invested more into the interface and presentation, and also made the cheats an option rather than the entire game, Texas Cheat'Em would offer one of the best poker experiences for all players. As is, this brave game can only have as long a shelf life as you give it.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 65%. Big props for offering something new for poker fans, but you must go elsewhere for a real poker game and higher production values. At least the career mode is good for one playthrough.