Unlike the PS Vita, the PSP seemed to be taken seriously when it came to a wide range of game genres both digitally and physically and saw releases not only by smaller studios through normal titles and the Minis range but also most of the major publishers. Whether it was first person shoot-em-ups from EA, RPGs from Square Enix or sports games from EA or 2K, the PSP was never left short. There was no void either when it came to officially licensed games based on sporting events or franchises, as this 2006 release from 2K Sports proved…
The PSP was no stranger to games aimed at an adult market with several games in the Grand Theft Auto franchise making an appearance, several other titles from Rockstar games and other publishers, and countless 18-rated movies released on UMD so it it was clear that the console had a more mature audience that it’s rival from Nintendo, the DS. With that in mind, it was no surprise that games based on the major poker brands were licensed including this based on the globally renowned World Poker Tour.
WPT offers a range of different game modes including a single table against 5 AI opponents, a tournament mode and an ad-hoc multiplayer mode where you can compete against other PSP owners via wi-fi, as well as the ability to create your own game. There are 15 variants on poker itself including most well-known games, but the rules for these can be customised and tweaked giving you no less than 4,000 variants on the game at your disposal so you’re spoiled for choice.
Opponent wise, there are over 1,000 CPU characters, each with their own playing styles and amongst them are 8 of the more well known major poker personalities from the professional circuit (at least who were when this game was released). One nice touch in terms of presentation was that at the start of games if any of these are present in the table you played, a short video is played about one of them talking about themselves. For those of us who aren’t familiar with some of the professionals it does make a welcome addition to the game to have some background information and it’s good to see 2K treating the professionals with a degree of respect.
Despite the complexity and depth of the options on offer, selecting which one you want and getting into the game is relatively quick, easy and painless and you can choose to do so with either the default character or use the character creation tools to completely customise the look and style of your player avatar. Obviously I wasn’t able to test the ad-hoc local or the online modes of the game which could also be used with a PS2 but I’d say most people these days will leave their online poker playing to using an online bitcoin casino or somewhere similar instead.
One thing that surprised me was the character editor. The choice of clothing that can be used from the start for your player is quite limited but other items can be purchased using in-game coins that you earn by forming different hands of cards during play in different game modes. It’s a novel idea and a great way to encourage repeat play and reminds me of some of the create-a-wrestler features that THQ used for the Smackdown range when they unlocked various costume items over time as you played. When it comes to the physical side of things, the level of detail is remarkable. You can customise most aspects of your character’s appearance including the body shape, facial details and structure, eye shape and positioning – far more than a handful of basic templates that I’ve seen on other poker games on other platforms and for that 2K Sports are to be commended.
It certainly looks and feels the part with the television style presentation and full commentary from the regular WPT commentary team along with reasonably varied speech from the professionals involved as well which keeps the game interesting. Taking this a step further there are a choice of casinos from around the world to use as the settings for each game. While this is purely a cosmetic change to the game, it does help to add to the atmosphere, something that a game like this needs to keep players interested and engaged.
While the game looks and sounds great, I did find the AI to be somewhat inconsistent. It varied dramatically from being genuinely challenging to being incredibly easy to beat by using the same tactic repeatedly by going all-in every time it was my turn, with all of the other players opting to fold almost immediately. It seemed to go from one extreme to the other during play from being a genuinely tough game keeping you on your toes or being monotonous and lacklustre.
I have to say that I do enjoy playing a wide range of console versions of poker regardless of what system it is on, but WPT just felt too hit and miss. AI aside, it needed the inclusion of more professional players to keep that sense of familiarity during play to stop it feeling like any “average” poker game (the sense of satisfaction you get when beating even a virtual pro is immense and really adds to the gameplay) and with only a few included here you’ll soon grow tired of playing the same digital faces over and over again.
Not bad, but there’s a lot of wasted potential here and the PSP has much better available.
At A Glance
- Title: World Poker Tour
- Publisher: 2K Sports
- Format: PSP UMD
- Memory Card Space Required: 286Mb
- Cross Buy: N/A
- Cross Save: N/A
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I’m an animal lover and vegetarian.
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