IGN Review of World Championship Poker: Featuring Howard Lederer - All In
The third game in Crave's WCP series, World Championship Poker: Featuring Howard Lederer "All In" is something of an odd third take for the series in that while it does offer a handful of improvements and new features, none of them actually stand out as being significant to the gameplay. In fact, most of what you'll see on this 360 version feels much like it did last year on current-gen consoles, and that sadly includes some of the game's drawbacks.
All In still carries the series' reasonably adept AI players, but they're still not perfect. One example would be when I was playing Texas Hold'em and I hit two pair, first hitting top pair on the flop and then nabbing the second on the river. The computer made a small raise pre-flop, then called every time I made a nice raise, including my all-in on the river. If it had a strong hand this might be a viable play, but while I had queens and sixes it had a pair of fives, with the five being the second-lowest card on the table, higher than only a 2 that came on the turn. It might have made sense to play this way if it was leading with each of these raises, trying to push me off the pot, but it simply played along and made some terrible calls.
These very odd calls extend outside of Hold'em. During a game of 7 Card Stud, my first three cards dealt face up were aces. Two other players called every one of my maximum raises until the end without a reasonable chance to beat me. Neither were ever really close to hitting a straight or a flush, making this just about one of the dumbest hands I've ever seen.
Aside from a few extremely poor cases like these however, the AI will play rather competently. It'll slow play fairly well sometimes, re-raising after it's reeled you in on a big hand, or even checking all the way to the river after hitting a boat on the flop. Again, it's obviously not perfect, but most of the time it plays a decent game of poker, regardless of which variant you're playing. Just don't expect perfection.
One rather cool, but flawed, feature of the game is Turbo mode. This essentially rips the game of its superfluous animations and whatnot and simply lets you play a game of poker as quickly as possible. While this is generally cool, you run into problems when you're playing a complicated game like Omaha High/Low as you don't have enough time to look at the high/low hands and see what hands the AI hit and how they did it. The game only gives you a few seconds to look at the outcome and then moves on.
Turbo mode is also a problem in games where the game type changes after each level as it simply skips past this warning screen rather quickly as well. I was playing Razz at one point, looked over to see if I'd gotten any new email, looked back and missed the message that said the game type had changed to 7 Card Stud. The two games look exactly the same, so of course I bet as much as possible on my 9-high hand. Whoops.
Online, the competition isn't exactly fierce -- there are less than 400 people on the leaderboard. But All In does support the Live Vision camera, although you should be careful as you don't want to give away a tell by making obscene gestures.
One improved element of the game is your house. You can now enter the house, outfit it and hold custom games, which thankfully allow you to play a single game type every week of your career (instead of being forced to play Razz or something one week like last time out). You can earn trinkets and whatnot, like a Robosapien or paintings, and they'll appear in your abode, though you don't really have any placement options. While all of this is cool, you're able to enter your apartment and wander around, searching for money. This sort of makes sense in that you'll be able to dig up enough scratch for an introductory tournament, but the controls are slow and clunky, and really, it's kind of stupid that you can find $72 behind a painting in your own home. It would simply be better to offer freeroll tournaments and allow you to win a bit of extra cash that way.
©2006-12-06, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved