World Championship Poker 2 review
The Professor deals a decent game of Poker

The good:

14 different varieties of Poker. Features 7 professional poker players. Online play. Price.

The bad:

Subpar character animations and voice acting. High difficulty level. You can't actually play as the pros.


The sequel to the first World Championship Poker game, WCP 2 features not only a prominent celebrity endorsement in Howard "The Professor" Lederer, but several other improvements like more variety in gameplay, enhanced tell & bluff systems, and a unique career mode that lets you simulate the life of a globe-travelling poker pro.

The graphics are average at best. The characters show fairly nice detail and the pros look like they do in real life, but there are a lot of rough edges and the character animations are too stiff. The various locales & backgrounds are decent looking for what they offer as well. Sounds are subpar, blending repetitive voice acting & stale one-liners with extremely annoying background music. Most of the pros lend their voices to the game and their characters, which adds good authenticity, but a couple didn't voice their characters at all. Plus most people can only take so many "Yum Yums" from Robert Williamson III before turning the voices off. And half the voices are either inappropriate age-wise for the character they're matched with or horribly stereotypical-sounding. Respected tournament director Matt Savage provides generally solid commentary but sometimes his voice is a little late if you speed thorugh your hands. Controls are extremely simple and easy to pick up, generally using only the B & X buttons to perform various betting actions. Gameplay is generally more sim-based poker playing, placing a heavy emphasis on out-betting your opponents. The game also introduces a "tell & bluff" system, which is actually nothing more than a difficult at first minigame where you must keep the pointer in a certain colored zone using the Control Stick. There are 14 different Poker games available, ranging from popular games like No Limit Hold 'Em to less-known games like Crazy Pineapple and Lowball. There are a few different rules variations for each, and if you play well enough you can even get 1-on-1 matches against any of the 7 Professional Poker Players in the game, including Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, and 2004 World Champion Greg "Fossilman" Raymer. Being able to play against them is great fun, but their playing styles are predictable and it would be better if you could play as them too. The Career Mode offers decent simulation-style gameplay as you travel the world playing in homegames, sidegames, and tournaments, and there's also a Quickplay mode for jumping right into a game, plus Xbox Live gaming. You can also buy gadgets & gear for your pad you live & play in, and you can earn trophies & unique trinkets for big wins. The computer players' AI is a little bit too high, making it difficult for beginners and inexperienced poker players to pick up and learn this title. They often play so aggressive that you almost have to be willing to risk everything you have on a losing hand just to say around long enough to be competitive. The "create character" option is surprisingly deep and offers many great ways to customize your character's look, but at times it just goes way overboard with the options available. While there's nothing wrong with looking like a mohawked biker at the poker table, having characters wearing gas masks and looking like they sprouted devil's horns in their heads is extreme overkill and hurts the credibility of the experience.

While this is a decent budget-priced game for those who are looking for a more realistic poker experience, the high skill level and limited options make this a tough pickup for casual players. Pick it up if you really want a legit poker simulation, but those who want to play as the pros or re-create the "as seen on TV" tournament experience will be better off spending their $20 on World Poker Tour or World Series of Poker instead.

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