Poker Night 2 Review

The first thing to consider before buying Poker Night 2, is how much of a fan you are of Borderlands 2, Portal, Army of Darkness, Sam and Max, and The Venture Brothers. If you're batting under .800 with this group, or don't like one or more of these franchises, then seek your poker thrills elsewhere. This is a poker game that is firmly centered on player banter, and while that banter is pretty funny to those of us with a fondness for all five of the all-star collection of characters in the game, most of it is going to go right over your head if you don't understand the references to Dean Venture, deadites, or Sybil Pandemik.

The characters making an appearance from those five franchises are your opponents in a poker tournament (Claptrap, Ash, Sam, and Brock Sampson) and the dealer (GLaDOS). It doesn't really matter how such an odd group has been assembled to play cards in an underground club, they play off against each other nicely like a regular group of drinking buddies. Your familiarity with each character makes you also feel like a part of the group, albeit a silent one. The other characters still acknowledge your presence, though mostly through one-line jabs at your intelligence or poker skills.

Poker Night 2 screenshot 3

Recognize these faces? I hope so...

As for the poker itself, the game includes Texas Hold'em and Omaha. All games are played as a tournament with each player coughing up a $20K buy-in and the game proceeding until one player is left standing with all $100K. Your opponents have fairly good poker skills, which is a good thing since there's no multiplayer in the game. Each player has his own set of tells, and if you buy drinks for them they'll be more likely to reveal them to you through their actions. The tells aren't as obvious as you probably expect them to be, and I found it was easier to win more consistently by sticking to a good poker strategy based on the cards in play rather than trying to adjust my game in response to the tells.

Win a tournament and you have the chance to unlock items such as Avatar awards or new skins for use in Borderlands 2. Even if you don't win, you'll earn tokens that can be used to unlock new sets of cards, chips, and table felts, each of which have themes borrowed from each character's show/game. Play with a matching set of all three and you'll see transformations to the barroom in which the game takes place and unlock new player interactions and conversations.

Even with the good volume of dialog in the game, it won't be too long before you'll hear some repeat sequences. Unfortunately, when these pop up there's no way to skip through them, and even worse, some of the sequences will hold up the play. To the game's credit I was still hearing some new dialog sequences hours into the game, though.

As long as you can follow along with all of the inside humor in Poker Night 2, it can be an enjoyable game. Once you've unlocked everything and collected your rewards, though, you probably won't find yourself compelled to return as you'll have heard it all before.

Final Rating: 72%. Familiarity with the game's characters is what breeds enjoyment of the game, otherwise you're probably looking at contempt.


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