Sunday, April 28, 2013

Poker Night at the Inventory 2 Review

As a poker player, by all rights I should hate this game.  It offers very few options, and the opponent AI is pretty terrible, offering little challenge or depth.  And they couldn't even get Bruce Campbell to record the voice of Ash, making the character's inclusion rather baffling.

But you know what?  I'm enjoying it a lot so far!  This is a fun game that's WELL worth the $5 asking price. The characters and lines of banter are funny and enjoyable.  Even Bruce Campbell's sound-alike does a great job, and I frequently forgot it wasn't really him.  Even the poker is enjoyable enough.

Poker Night at the Inventory 2 takes the form of a poker tournament attended by some enjoyable characters bantering back and forth as you play.  This one features Brock Samson (Venture Bros), Claptrap (Borderlands), Ash Williams (Evil Dead), and Sam (Sam & Max).  GladDos as the insufferably hilarious dealer completes the ensemble.  Each character asks questions, makes jokes, or shares stories with the others individually, revealing hundreds of different voice lines for every conceivable situation.  I still haven't heard them all!  It's a lot of fun to hang out with these guys and playing a casual game of poker.  Just don't ever listen to their poker advice - notably, every character lambasting the "wussy" player for almost every fold (despite folding being extremely important when playing beginners).

And that's what it is: casual poker.  But from my experience, they don't really play any different than you'd expect from your average person that's not a serious poker player.  I've played with my fare share of casual players, and this game is an accurate simulation of that.  They go all in with bottom pair, they don't fold often, and if they bluff it's either obvious or badly timed.  For a decent poker player, beating these guys is a piece of cake (don't tell GladDos though!).  However, they don't want you winning every time you play.  The tournaments always start you off with about 20 big blinds, and only pay you off if you get first place.  Luck can play a bigger factor than you might be used to in a deeper tournament, and getting first place isn't always going to happen when your opponents call any bluff with ace high and you're not catching good cards.  While this structure might annoy many, and I do wish there were more options in place, the game has a good pace and just enough challenge as a result.  Finally, it's worth mentioning the all-new inclusion of one of my favorite poker games, Omaha (although it is no limit, rather than the more common pot limit).  This game is bound to cause some confusion among players and reviewers - I've already seen criticism that certain hands are not recognized correctly by GladDos, by people who don't quite understand that Omaha requires EXACTLY two cards from your hand to be used - no more, no less.  Even so, it's a very fun game, with a lot more luck involved in each individual hand, making it a great gambler's game.  There's a serious dearth of Omaha games with AI, so I was pretty happy to find this one.

I would be remiss not to mention the massive number of bugs I encountered.  Not many were serious - mostly animation glitches as characters snapped into different animations weirdly, or repeatedly some turning or leaning back animations.  And one time I pressed the fold button too quickly and the game failed to recognize the action, despite taking away the buttons - leaving me staring at Brock Samson for 5 minutes hearing about how bored he is waiting for me to make a move, before I had to restart the game.  They're a bit annoying, but don't detract seriously from the experience.

It's not a complicated game.  Play some poker against a bunch of hilarious characters, who themselves are quite casual poker players.  If you know poker, you can have some fun trying to beat them optimally.  If not, have fun gambling with them.  But for $5, there's little reason not to pick this up.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The World Needs a Warhammer 40k MOBA

Do you know what the MOBA genre really needs more of?  Sci-fi.  And also heresy.  And Space Marines.

Warhammer 40k is the perfect fit for this genre!  The game is rife with larger-than-life heroes, crazy special abilities, and a rich mythos.  It's not hard to imagine heroes of the 40k universe coming together to push waves of Ork, Guardsmen, Guardians, Hormagaunts, or Cultist creeps down futuristic lanes to destroy giant skull-towers.  Or some-such thing.  Each hero could have very easily-imagined special abilities and witty one-liners.  Items fit the universe as well.  Ok, modders, get out there and make some of this stuff come true, please!

Off the top of my head, here's a few characters that would work in this game, and a dota-like roster of skills for each:

Space Marine Captain - I imagine a hero with abilities that let him change up his loadout on the fly.  Captains are known for being versatile characters with a wide range of wargear.  I'm imagining something like Troll Warlord, where he can change between boltgun and lightning claws on the fly (with a cooldown, naturally), and having some sort of AOE or global buffs to damage or attack speed for his allies.

Space Marine Librarian/Ork Weirdboy/Eldar Warlock/Chaos Sorcerer - Anything goes for these guys.  They're psykers, they can have a variety of magic-type attacks.  Teleporting, debuffs on enemies, stuns, nukes, they can do it.

Assault Marine Sargeant - Well, this would be a melee hero with a jump pack, probably a chainsword.  Could potentially have melta bombs and be able to use his jump pack to leap around cliffs or escape/initiate. I bet he'd be fun as hell to play.

Ork Warboss - Big, tanky melee hero.  Some abilities that represent his luv o' fightin'.  Maybe some combination of Tiny (where he gets larger as he gets stronger and levels up), Huskar (does more damage the more hurt he is), and Bristleback (he wants to get into the thick of it!).  He'd have some good health regen and armor.

Necron Overlord - This guy's a no-brainer, with the ability to come back to life if killed, plus a temporary mind-control of an enemy and potentially a banishment spell, he would be a real force to be reckoned with.  No doubt a carry!

Space Marine Devestator/Imperial Guard Weapons Team - this type of hero would be the ranged specialist with all sorts of missiles and plasma weapons and lascannons.

Dreadnought/Killa Kan/Wraithlord/Carnifex - The giant monsters!  I suppose each one would have unique abilities, but they'd all likely be pretty tanky and hard to kill.  The Dreadnought ought to have some kind of ranged abilities, while the Kan and Fex might not.

Marbo - This elite Guardsman would have stealth abilities along with traps and explosives to plant.

You could have a ton of named characters from every Codex, along with these more generic heroes, and you'd be coming around to the number of heroes in conventional MOBAs, with all the variety and different playstyles you could ask for.  Seriously, this has to happen!