Fairly high difficulty level. The tips aren't always accurate for the situation. Limited variety of game options.
The newest Poker game to hit the consoles, Stacked is also the latest to feature a top poker personality. Starring Player of the Year Daniel "Kid Poker" Negreanu, the game lets you learn and play the popular Texas Hold 'Em game in various environments then take your game online to compete in private games or massive online tournaments.
The graphics are solid and nicely detailed. The generic characters have a fair amount of detail and the pros in the game look very much like they do on TV. The backgrounds nicely capture the look of the poker rooms at the casinos & gambling establishments. Sounds are above average, featuring a fair amount of "table talk" (various comments/dialogue) from the players that can be adjusted to your liking, although the lines do get repetitive fairly quickly. Negreanu also lends his voice to his pro tips-you'll either like it or turn it off very quickly. The music is decent but gets repetitive quickly too. Controls are a little more complex than other poker games but fairly simple once you've figured them out; The extra buttons used allow players to more accurately play the game like in real-life, performing actions like aggressive or passive betting, various facial expressions, and peeking at your cards. Gameplay is basically standard Texas Hold 'Em, featuring both quick or "cash" games, as well as tournaments. There are both Limit & No Limit versions, but it's a little disappointing that no other forms of poker are featured. One thing this title does differently is it has rather extensive stat-tracking, recording not only how much you play but how often you win, bet, fold, etc. so you can get a better idea of how you play-this is also used for the innovative AI that adjusts its playing style to how you play, which always keeps the game interesting by forcing you to adjust your style for each situation. The game also fesatures several top young poker pros, including Negreanu, 2004 WSOP Main Event 2nd & 3rd place finishers David Williams & Josh Arieh, former dealer-turned-pro Evelyn Ng, and top tournament player Erick Lindgren, among others. You can also get tips at certain times from Negreanu himself as to what you should do, but these tips aren't always 100% accurate in the timing. Another difference setting this game apart from others is the structure of the online play: In addition to being able to play a regular game or invite your friends to a private game online, there is also the online stat tracking and plans for sponsored massive online tournaments, ultimately leading up to a possible final table appearance on TV. Additionally, you can unlock and play as the pros offline, but if you see them online it's actually them-so if you're online and have a Daniel Negreanu at your table, you're really playing against Kid Poker himself! The game's difficulty level is a little high at first, but tutorials and the poker tips help make the game more accessible to beginners and less skilled players, while helping more experienced players further improve their game.
Although is still has a few shortcomings, Stacked clearly is perhaps the best poker game now available, and the online format gives it a chance to really set itself apart from others with the planned tournament formats and being able to play against the pros. Both beginning and advanced poker players will find it challenging and a great tool for improving your game for when it's time to play for real.