March 16th marks the conclusion to Microsoft’s 2011 Xbox Live House Party in a stylish fashion with Full House Poker. Play for the big win as your avatar in this upcoming game in either single-player mode, online multiplayer, or in Texas Heat – Full House Poker’s live poker tournaments. Do you have what it takes to win? Or will you be going home busted and broke?
Full House Poker is a little more than just your average poker game on Xbox Live. Not only does it integrate your XBL avatars into the game, but contains an obscene number of unlockable customizations for not just your avatar, but for your environment as well. As you play the game you earn experience points. These points raise you up in levels and allow you to unlock items such as different patterns or materials for your chairs, poker tables and card backings as well as different venues to play in. There are also unlockables such as outfits and poker chip tricks for your avatar itself. There are over 150 unlockable items in the game.
Full House Poker is a Texas Hold Em’-style poker game, offering a number of game modes available to you. There is of course the single player game for those of you who just like to play casually, as well as online multiplayer over Xbox Live for those who are more interested in seeing how you rank up amongst your peers. But the more interesting game mode is Texas Heat, which is a regularly scheduled online live tournament that gives you 30 minutes to beat out the rest of your table. This mode adds a different level of intensity as you’re playing against the clock as well as the other players.
If you’re unable to make it to one of the regularly scheduled Texas Heat events, there is still the online multiplayer available to enjoy and lift some chips off of your opponents. You can jump into a quick match or search online for open tables in case you want to find your poker-playing nemesis and challenge them to a rematch. And if you really want to get serious, you can participate in 30 player online tournaments to see if you have what it takes to be the top dog at the tables.
If you’re new to the game, or just not terribly good, there is Pro Takedown mode. This mode pits you up against AI Pros who all have a unique style of play and different tells. For those of you who may not know, tells are those little mannerisms/behavioural tics that can give away what cards we have in our hand. For example, if I have a good hand, my knee bounces; and if I have a poor hand, I fidget with my chips. In Pro Takedown, you get to learn each Pro’s tell and exploit it to take him down.
In an effort to make the game more fun and “avatar-ish”, they’ve added the ability for you to show excitement or worry when submitting your bet. While this works pretty well in throwing your AI opponents off balance, I can’t say it’s terribly successful in the multiplayer modes. More often than not, real life opponents just leave their avatar be as the whole key to playing poker in real life is to not do anything to reveal your hand be it good or bad. And if you do see an avatar bouncing up and down with excitement after tossing in their two chips, they’re probably bluffing.
Also on March 16th, you’ll be able to continue the excitement on the road with Full House Poker for Windows Phone 7. This game works pretty much the same way that the full version does. But the nice thing is that any cash that you earn on your phone automatically transfers to the console game via your Xbox Live account. The Windows Phone 7 version will have its own set of over 100 unlockable items and Pro Takedown challenges as well. So while you’re on the subway, on the plane, or in the washroom you can pick up a few extra chips for when you get back home. Any free time that you can find, you can play. Unfortunately, a review copy of the mobile version was not available at the time of this writing, but I will probably pick it up when it releases and let you know how it is.
Full House Poker may not be a game for everyone. But for those who enjoy the game, or are just looking for something to kill a little bit of time between AAA titles, this is an excellent game to pick up.
Full House Poker releases on Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7 on March 16th for 1200 Microsoft Points and $2.99 respectively.