Poker Night at The Inventory

Review

posted 1/7/2011 by Ben Berry
other articles by Ben Berry
Platforms: PC
 In the past few years, downloadable content to extend a game has become a popular way to make money for game developers. If you had to work 2 or 3 years on a single game, and have to rely on just the sales of that game to get you through the creation of the next game, a quick way to make some extra money is to design you game to accept additional content developed later in smaller pieces.

What the developers have to rely on currently is that players will be willing to pay straight up for just additional content or additional items to use the game. But Telltale Games has come up with a better way to sell the content that gives you more than just the content. Poker Night at the Inventory is essentially DLC for Team Fortress 2, but in the form of a poker game played against Strong Bad, Max of Sam & Max from the Telltale lineup along with TF2’s The Heavy and Tycho of Penny Arcade fame.


So what’s the point of putting these four competitors at the felt; to get you weapons and other upgrades in Team Fortress 2. Whether it’s The Iron Curtain, The Heavy’s massive gun, The Enthusiast’s Time Piece from Tycho, Max’s Badge and Gun, or Strong Bad’s Dangeresque shades you have a chance to give yourself an advantange on the TF2 advantage battlefield.

Just how do you get these enhancements? Each one is a bounty for being the player to knock out the character that has the weapon. But it’s not as easy as just playing a single game of poker and knocking out each of the other players. Rather, each player buys in with $10,000 in cash, and randomly the game has the characters not have the cash for the buy-in but rather putting up their TF2 enhancement as their buy-in. In playing the game, it seems that about once in every 5 or so games did one of the characters offer up their upgrade as the entry fee.


The hard part is of course the poker itself. But even that isn’t that hard. The game offers 3 different difficulty settings and the game play at the easiest setting is pretty easy. Most of the time, the characters don’t have any cards to worth playing, even if they’ve raised you and gone all in. On the harder settings, you will see a lot better poker, and I got beat holding a full house not once, but twice during games on the hardest setting. I’m not going to go into poker strategy or anything like that, but on easy being aggressive won’t cost you, and can often win you hands you have no business being in. And much like in real life poker, against better players, you generally want to be more conservative and only play solid cards.

Aside from the TF2 enhancements, the real reason to buy this game is the interaction between the characters. Banter around the poker table is one of the best parts of poker and it’s the true strength of this little game. Hearing characters who have no business being in the same room with each other cracking wise while they wait for you to make a decision about whether to bet or raise. The characters banter seems very much in character for everyone at the table, and it’s especially funny to hear Max ask The Heavy to help him get a bigger gun.


The game also gets the graphics dead on as well. The appearance of the each character in their unique styles of animation is a lot like one of the scenes out of Roger Rabbit, where every character is different but seems to fit just right. The Inventory itself is drawn to be an old speakeasy kept going “just in case”, and feels just right for an old basement that’s been upgraded over time.

That’s not to say the game is perfect. On a fairly high end PC, the controls feel slow. The screen controls are a bit finicky and the mouse movement is slow to respond. Occasionally, the conversation between the characters stops suddenly if you click on a button during the dialogue.

In the end, for $5.00, you can’t really go wrong, and this game delivers way more than the typical ultra-budget title. On top of all of the TF2 enhancements, you get the added fun of seeing some great characters in a funny setting.
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