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Stacked Review

Poker. It’s all the rage on TV, so why not make a video game based on the hit card game, Texas Hold’em? The oddest thing about games like these are not that they’re made, but that they’re bought in such high quantities. You might think that you could pretty much play this game for the price of a deck of cards, and yet people spend anywhere from $20 to $50 for a game like this. Too weird. Stacked featuring Daniel Negreanu tries to be more than just your average card game, but does it have the sack of money to go all in or does it punk out and fold?

Aside from the obvious card game in a video game format, the game allows you to create your own character and bring him up from the ranks of obscurity to the rank of high roller. Really what you’re getting is a half-baked attempt at a create a player mode since options are pretty limited. Actually, what you get is a half-baked attempt at a video game period. First of all, for whatever reason this game has MTV’s name attached to it. Why that is, I’m still trying to figure out, maybe it‘s just the next progression in them never having to play music again?

Everything in this game seems like it was left in mid-development. A game this simple and this late into the Xbox life cycle should not have load times this long. If you’re going to try to recreate the feel of the Poker circuit maybe it would be a good decision to have more than a few casinos, especially since all you‘re showing are the tables anyway. Having some of the Poker professionals as unlockable characters is cool, but if they’re not bringing anything else to the table (no pun intended) what’s the use? Yes, there are so many options to play the same game your head will spin, but most of those only involve how much your starting bets will be and how much you can bet in one hand. Play the game over and over again to gain a larger bankroll to spend on the higher level tournaments. It’s all fine and dandy if it weren’t for the fact that there’s just the one card game to play.

Visually Stacked is pretty boring, you’re confined to a table and yet the graphics just aren’t all that great. The developer’s appear to have taken shortcuts when it comes to the player movement, specifically the dealer. The dealer collects all the chips after each wager and yet, it’s choppy and overall pretty weak. The players themselves aren’t very detailed, their voices are repetitive and their trash talking is uninspired.

The worst part about the game is that the computer AI can cheat you at every turn. You see if you’ve got them at a distinct disadvantage it feels like at least 75% of the time they manage to take advantage of it. Maybe I’ve got bad luck or maybe the fact that when it comes down to the last card of the flop the computer manages to get the one card they need to beat me. Climbing the ranks is difficult and for the most part very tedious. This game could be better if there was more to it than just the one game. Texas Hold’em is okay and all, but who wants to play 40 hours of Texas Hold’em against the computer just to unlock a new tournament of, you guessed it, Texas Hold’em with some cheap AI?

Even having Daniel Negreanu’s name attached to it can’t save this game. The cool thing about his name being attached to the game is that you can always ask him for advice on what to do with your hand. He’s right about 50% of the time, but his simple advice can lead to some big winnings in the long run. Still, though even if he could magically come out of the TV set and play each hand for you, I don’t think he could have any better luck against this computer AI and their cheating ways.

The real draw to this game can only be the Xbox Live play. You can take your created player and compete against your friends or any number of players in sanctioned multi-table tournaments. Online leader boards are available to view if you feel the need to boast that you’ve got mad skills at a video game version of a card game. Let’s face it, this is the only real reason to play this game. If you’ve got friends in real life you’ll have a better time grabbing some beverages and a pizza and playing the old fashioned way. If, however, you can’t manage to maintain real live friendships, this may be your best option to play some Texas Hold’em.

Final Verdict

The bottom line here is that while the game is based mostly on chance the computer seems to have the best chances of all. You’ve really got to be a huge fan of Texas Hold’em to want to play hours and hours of Stacked. While it’s a decent diversion for a short amount of time, there’s just not enough variety to warrant a purchase. Unless you’re die-hard about your poker, you’ll want to stay away from this game.


5.5 out of 10

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Related Information

Posted by: Redeema
Date: August 1, 2006
Publisher: Myelin Media
Developer: 5000Ft. Inc.
Release Date: 05/30/2006
Genre: Other
Number of Players: 1-10
ESRB Rating: Teen
System Reviewed: Xbox

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Categories: PC Reviews, Xbox Reviews, PlayStation 2 Reviews, PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Reviews

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