E3 '06: Stacked Hands-On Preview

During the E3 convention, GamerNode had the opportunity to try out the new poker game, Stacked with Daniel Negreanu. The game is published by Myelin and is developed by 500ft Inc. and will be available for the PS2, PC and PSP on March 30.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time watching the Travel Channel or ESPN will recognize Daniel Negreanu as one of the more familiar faces on the professional poker circuit. His chatty demeanor, likeable personality, and dead-on poker skills have made him a favorite among viewers and competitors alike. It is no surprise that his persona has now been signed up for a video game. With yet another addition to the video poker game genre, does Stacked measure up to a good game of poker, or does it come up short-stacked?

As with most video games in this category, the graphics are not usually known as the strong suit of these titles; Stacked tries to break away from this trend. The poker players and environments are rendered proficiently, with some good detail in replicating the look and feel of a poker television broadcast. While honestly, the graphics are nothing to write home about, the graphics are a step above when compared to other poker game titles.

We were able to play several rounds of Stacked and came away with some good impressions. The AI of this game seems to be star of this title as the computer players react with human-like qualities instead of calculating machines. In other poker video game simulations, the play feels very stilted. Your opponents seem to be cardboard cutouts and are merely following scripts in calculating the odds. Not so with Stacked.

In one round, I made several aggressive bets and had most of the computer players fold. My last opponent hung in there with me, and continued to re-raise and go over the top of my bets. I had a fairly strong hand, but it was definitely beatable. Was my opponent bluffing me? Did he really have a better hand? Maybe he thinks I,m bluffing. Maybe I should go all-in and try to scare him off. This sort of thinking happens when you play against human players, not against a video game. But this example of how the game had me worried was a testament to its life-like AI.

According to Bryan Lam of Kohnke Communications, who fielded questions about the game, Stacked is based upon an AI routine that has been in development for over 10 years at Alberta University. The AI not only thinks about what it is doing, it is also thinking about what you are doing as well. Your mannerisms during gameplay, such as how often you look at your cards, how you bet, when you bet, etc., are all picked up by the game AI. So if you have visions of bluffing your way through this title, you,ll be sadly mistaken. The game picks up your tells, or give-away clues as to strength of your card hand. This may also be the reason why this particular poker game feels more ‘alive, than others.

Other features of the game offer a poker school which offers tips and advice from Negreanu, appearances in the game from featured poker luminaries such as David Williams, Evelyn Ng, Josh Arieh, Carlos Mortensen, Erick Lindgren, and Jennifer Harman, winning tournament rings, PSP and PS2 game interchange, and a special 90 minute DVD featuring Negreanu for those who pre-order the game from MTV online.

If the demo we tried out at E3 is any indication of what kind of poker video game this is, Stacked with Daniel Negreanu may be a poker game you may want join.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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