This past week I have been playing my fair share of Poker Night 2 for the sake of getting through my backlog for the month of May (Be MOP #372). I have played and completed the first Poker Night at the Inventory and I bought the second Poker Night a long while ago and I played a bit of it but I did not get through everything, which is why I am returning to the series for this month. Since I returned to Poker Night 2 and comparing it the other games the entire Poker Night series is amazing if you think about it.
I was talking to my friend about this the other night, and we had a little bit of an argument about whether or not TellTale’s games fell under the indie category like he believes because they publish their own games or , as I argue, because of how big they are, TellTale has transcended to ‘small gaming company’ status. No matter how you slice it was amazing that even with their first Poker Night game they were able to recruit the star power for the various NPCs you played poker with. The first game had Max, from Sam and Max, Gabe of Penny Arcade, TF2’s Heavy Weapons guy, and Strong Bad. And they were able to get more recognizable and higher profile characters for the sequel.
Which is also impressive that the small gaming company was able to persuade Valve and Gearbox to include multiple cosmetic hats which was one of the major selling point for everyone else who did not want to hear the voice and banter of Strong Bad for one last time. More importantly what I appreciate about the game is TellTale’s policy when it comes to the Team Fortress 2 and Borderlands 2 item unlockables, both Poker Night games makes you earn your fancy cosmetic rewards by playing the game and going through challenges.
In the first game, the ability to unlock Gabe’s Spy Watch or my beloved Soviet era Heavy gun (Be MOP #254) was purely luck based, at the start of every poker match there was a chance the game would trigger an event for one of the NPCs to forget the bring any money, resulting them in using their specific item as collateral to enter the game. In order to win the item you had to bust out that NPC from the tournament to unlock for your TF2 account. Which meant you could (and I did) just reset the poker tournament until the you got the item you wanted and just play aggressively towards that one NPC until you busted him out.
The second game fixed this little reset exploit and made the rewards be a result of more skill than luck, with three randomly chosen objectives and once you complete all of them the item event would happen in the next match and you had to win the tournament to win the item. I do like this process more, even though it can result in more RNG madness
Still I wish that more games on Steam would follow this practice, giving you the cosmetic hat or piece of flair only for after beating the game or completing a certain achievement rather than just placing a preorder on the game. I think this opinion comes from my years of playing WoW and only getting that special mount after earning a meta achievement for a raid or killing the end game boss on Hard mode. On top of TellTale’s commitment to hold cross games items behind achievements and because Telltale can not ruin something as simple as the Poker system in a game, this is one of the few game series that I would buy the sequel to on Day One if (when) Tell Tales release a third Poker Night at the Inventory game.
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