Launched simultaneously with the Xbox LIVE Arcade version, Full House Poker on Windows Phone 7 is a frequently surprising package. Remarkably addictive despite not offering multiplayer gameplay, offering a comprehensive selection of game modes despite being priced reasonably and being presented as a partner to the Xbox 360 game of the same name, Full House Poker is a pleasantly robust videogame package that pushes forward the connection between Microsoft’s two leading gaming platforms.
Full House Poker offers three gameplay modes, Standard, Tournament and Pro Takedown. Standard is just a one-off game in which the last man standing wins. Players can choose the buy-in and number of player before beginning, and should they be beaten they can opt to continue the game by buying-in again. Bad playing can lead to a huge investment of your bankroll standing against the other player’s initial hands, so knowing when to quit in this mode is essential. Tournaments offer the same entry options, and are great for building up your bankroll with minimal risk as they can be started with no buy-in, meaning you can walk away with a reasonable gain should you win.
While Standard and Tournament gameplay modes offer a great amount of scope for hours of game time themselves, it’s the Pro Takedown gameplay mode that is the real meat of Full House Poker. Players will progress through one-on-one matches against increasingly difficult opponents, each of which have different entry requirements, be they a basic buy-in or a specific player level. Ten levels of Pro Takedown are available, culminating in an ‘All-Pro Tournament’.
Players have a single bankroll for all gameplay modes, and should that quota be diminished they may take more from an endless supply at the cost of not earning any XP for a set amount of turns. The amount that may be taken is dependant on a player’s level, with later Pro Takedowns requiring a much greater amount of chips for entry. There are also a number of customisation features available to the player before starting each match – deck and table design, and a nickname – of which more options become available as you level-up.
One of the most interesting features of Full House Poker is the cross-platform compatibility. Linked to your LIVE GamerTag, just as with Crackdown 2 and Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst, a player’s level and bankroll are saved online and transferred between systems. Earning XP in either game will update it’s counterpart, so gamers on Windows Phone 7 can continue to earn funds and progress their level while away from their Xbox 360 console. Your progress through the Pro Takedowns is also transferred between systems, as are any unlockable customisation options that appear in both games. What’s more, each version features its own Achievements and Leaderboards, meaning a player can progress on both simply by playing either system.
Full House Poker is a very well presented game, making use of the player’s Xbox LIVE Avatar to a far greater extent than any other Windows Phone 7 game thus far. However, while the visual quality is welcoming, it’s a constant wonder as to why no multiplayer gameplay has been included. Though a turn based game such as Game Chest: Logic’s chess may have been slow moving, friends would surely appreciate others need for time away in the same way that players will forget clever tactics they may have discovered in the aforementioned chess, yet continue to play with their friends for the sheer enjoyment of playing. The Windows Phone 7 format has proven to be technically capable, so the lack of multiplayer gameplay here is an ugly blemish on an otherwise perfect compliment to the home console game.
Full House Poker for Windows Phone 7 may well be rewarding as a poker game in it’s own right, especially given the amount of gameplay options and it’s relatively low price, but realistically it’s far better as a compliment to the Xbox LIVE Arcade game. Treating this version of Full House Poker as an extension of that available of Xbox LIVE Arcade is allows players to continue with their competitive streak on the go, and as a game that is one of the first to offer such functionality, Full House Poker confidently sets a path for other titles to follow.