"In the end, Poker Night at the Inventory is nothing more than a promotion for Team Fortress 2 featuring a cheap poker game."
The biggest selling point of Poker Night at the Inventory is easily its free unlockable items for Team Fortress 2. By purchasing the game and meeting certain gameplay requirements, one can unlock a few weapons, hats, and accessories to be used in TF2, making this yet another fine example of a cross-promotion with Valve’s ever so popular game. Aside from that what exactly does this game have to offer? Well it is exactly what the title makes it out to be. It is a true Texas Hold ‘Em poker game that sells for the cheap price of $5 USD. As soon as you boot the game and are introduced by Reginald Van Winslow from the Money Island series you are thrown right into a game of poker against a few familiar faces: Max from the Sam & Max series, Strong Bad from Homestar Runner, the Heavy Weapons Guy from Team Fortress 2 (I suppose you have to include him if you’re going to give away all of those TF2 promotional items) and Tyco from the popular Penny Arcade web comic.
If Telltale got one thing right with this title it was bringing out the best of the characters. Nothing beats hearing the Heavy go on rants about how he will be killed back at home in Russia if he doesn’t win right in the middle of a poker hand. Max makes his typical dark, goofy remarks, Strong Bad has his dumb, lighthearted humor that’s present in the Homestar Runner videos, and Tyco is, well… Tyco, featuring plenty of colorful remarks and rude, sarcastic comments. This isn’t just limited to one-liners, either. The dialogue often extends to conversations amongst themselves, as well as plenty of references to their respective games/medias. It all feels completely natural and while some lines are funnier and more amusing than others, none of it feels forced and set up. This certainly makes the game much more interesting than sitting around with a bunch of random, lifeless opponents.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough dialogue to keep it fresh forever. After an hour and a half of play chances are every piece of dialog will be heard, so the all-star team actually begins to sound annoying. Now you’re just left with a typical poker game featuring repetitive voices that by this point you can almost recite. To inspire you to keep on playing, there are multiple difficulty levels, a few unlockable items to customize the appearance of the game and even a stat tracker that keeps track of your all time stats, such as win percentage, all-ins, and more. While this is nice and all, the game’s depth ultimately comes down to how long you want to play poker for. The fact that there are free games available on the internet where you can play against actual humans doesn’t help make the case of playing with AI bots and repetitive dialogue any easier.
Not to mention there are also a few bugs present. At one instance my straight lost to Max’s two-of-a-kind, and at another instance one of my stats reset. These bugs don’t occur often and aren’t game breaking, but come up just enough to be annoying and noticeable. Between the bugs and depth, everything that the game offers can be done online for free and against human opponents. So in the end, Poker Night at the Inventory is nothing more than a promotion for Team Fortress 2 featuring a cheap poker game. Unless you want to be amused for an hour or two by witty dialogue or want some TF2 items, you’re much better off saving your $5 and playing one of the many freely available versions.
Community review by Halon (March 13, 2011)
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