Reviewed: October 15, 2007
Released: September 25, 2007
Have you ever wanted to play next to Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, or Johnny Chan but just don’t have the money to go out to Vegas and buy into big time tournaments? Well now you can do it right from your own living room. It is time to step up to the big games and tournaments and see what you can do against real poker pros.
If it is a home game in your garage or in the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, you get the chance to sit next to pros and rake in big pots with pocket rockets or with a big bluff with seven deuce in World Series of Poker 2008: Battle For The Bracelets.
You start out on the main screen where you have the options of choosing Quickplay, Career, Multiplayer, Tutorials, and options. The Tutorials option is the best place to start if you really don’t know the game of poker. Phil Hellmuth walks you through everything you need to know about the game and how to play it. Once you have gone through training, you are ready to practice.
Click on the quickplay mode and you will jump right into a one table $1,000 tourney with amateurs and pros. I was lucky enough to get to play with The Poker Brat, Phil Hellmuth. I was really shocked when I first saw the screen for many reasons. First off, there are two pictures of the players and the table. What I mean by this is that you get to see the action happening around the table on one side of the screen while you got to see what each player was doing on the other. The movement of the players showed a lot to what there hands were and their voices and verbal abuse or taunting was fitting. The pros were depicted perfectly.
And what a list of pros it is. Your poker skills will be put to the ultimate test by over 30 of the world’s top poker champions – the most extensive collection of top pros in any video game ever produced. You’ll be expected to go all-in against the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Jennifer Harman, Scotty Nguyen, Clonie Gowen, T.J. Cloutier, Allen Cunningham, David Williams and many others!
Now if you don’t want to wait to see how the computer talks or acts you have the option of clicking the X button and it speeds through the computer actions, dealing the flop, turn, and river. Some of the negative things that I noticed are that the pot size was up in the top left corner and took me a while to find. It would have been nice to see it on the table screen. Another thing that bothered me was that when someone raises the pot it is really hard to read what they upped the bet to. It was really hard to tell the difference between sixes and eights and so on, but those are more graphical issues that actually affect the gameplay.
Finally, when you choose to fold you sit there and think about it just as long as if you had made a bet or call. It would have been better if when you choose the fold button that you would do so immediately. Once you did get heads up the game stayed true and real. Mine tourney wasn’t over in just two hands like you see on television. The computer played a far number of hands and did its far share of bluffing. What was nice was that the computer didn’t always call you out when you bluffed and there was not a lot of underdog hands beat a monster.
After you get a feel for the game during your quickplay mode, it is time for you to start up a career mode. Here is where you build up a bankroll, earn upgrades like better living conditions, and get a chance to win your WSOP bracelets. You get invited and have the chance to play in cash games to build up your bankroll so you can play in as many tourneys as you want, or as much as your bankroll will let you.
You create your own player and start from scratch just like any other player in the world which makes this game more appealing, and you have to manage your money. For those of you with an EyeToy, you can paste your face on your player for that added personal touch.
The more you play the better you get and to reflect that in the game are a host of unlockable tools. With successful wins, you will unlock valuable poker tools that will enable you to become an even more skillful player. Unlockables include the ability to instantly check your odds of hitting various hands at the pre-flop, flop, turn and river, check the ranking of your hand, and even check valuable statistics on your opponents’ style’s of play such as the percentage of flops each has seen or and percentage of pre-flop raises. You will also unlock sections of Phil Hellmuth’s Black Belt poker tutorial from iAmplifyVegas.com.
I was impressed with how the characters looked. They were not the typical PS2 block figures. All the pros have been digitally scanned to deliver the most realistic likeness and playing personality. Even the surround crowd is free of generic or repeating characters. The tables look great and poker rooms look just like the real rooms in Vegas.
This year you can build your bankroll on the the famed Las Vegas Strip! Enter cash games at the famed poker rooms of Caesar’s Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Bally’s, and Paris casinos. Plus, you can still test your skills at all the favorite locations of previous years such as Harrah’s New Orleans, Grand Tunica, and of course the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino.
WSOP 2008 came together on nearly every aspect, and was really only limited in what they could really do because of the PS2 technology. Other than the aforementioned issues with the screen layout and difficult-to-read numbers, this is an impressive poker game.
Sound was the area that really got me hooked on the game. Unlike online rooms, the poker atmosphere is perfect. Like I said before with the graphics, this game was really well put together from every angle. Not only do you hear the chips being messed around with on your table but you hear them from all the other tables in the room as well giving the game an expanded environment beyond just your table.
But clacking chips isn't the only sounds you'll hear. You have all the other ambient casino noises just like a real poker room. This added so much to the game. After playing WSOP 2008 versus the countless hours of online PC poker games I had been playing, I quickly came to the conclusion that I could get lost in this game for hours and really feel like I was playing poker compared to just clicking and waiting my turn on my computer.
All the pros have provided voice-over and playing style traits for their in-game characters. Plus all the action once again will be called by the official WSOP commentating duo of Norman Chad and Lon McEachern.
WSOP 2008 has a lot of options and game modes that will keep you locked in the poker room for hours and hours. I have played countless hours of online poker and it doesn’t even compare to WSOP 2008 on the PS2. This game was very well thought through and fairly priced. If you are a beginner or just looking to improve upon last year's title this game will keep you entertained and will improve your skills at the same time.
You can also take your game online and test your poker skills in online matches and tournaments with up to nine players. For those of you with a broadband Internet connection hooked to your PS2, this will extend the life of this title until the 2009 version inevitably arrives.
I have to admit, I didn’t think this game was going to be that good. I mean I love poker but wasn’t really interested in World Series of Poker 2008: Battle For The Bracelet until it fell into my lap. I was very surprised by how well this game was put together. The designers really spent some time with the pros and in the poker rooms to really make this as lifelike as possible.
I love being able to sit in my living room and have a chance to play with all my favorite pros and hear them talk trash and take the beatings and try to get under your skin. Whether you are a beginner just looking to learn or a season card shark wanting to brush up on your skills before you head to Vegas, this game is perfect and you can get lost in it very easily. I did.