Army Of Laughness: Telltale Games’ Poker Night 2

By Alec Meer on April 3rd, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Cake groovy marginally volatile hostage situation

I’ve only played poker twice! Yet here I am writing a post about a poker game! That’s the kind of consummate professional I am. I know enough about poker to get away with this, though – for instance, I know that if someone plays five Jacks at once it’s called a Belgian Tickle and everyone else in the game has to take their trousers off. I know that if anyone scores 21, they immediately have to give their car keys to a homeless person. And I know that Telltale’s first attempt at a poker-based game starring a selection of pop-cultural characters was disappointing. Given that, post-Walking Dead, the studio is presumably now aware of the critical and commercial benefits of making really good rather than merely adequate and formulaic games, hopefully that means they’re going to give Poker Night 2 their all.

Though one of its stars is unfortunately Borderlands’ perpetually grating robo-prick Claptrap, so perhaps this is a race they can’t possibly win. The other stars are significantly more promising. I’ve not seen Venture Bros, whose Brock Samson takes a place at the table, but Nathan informs me that “It’s amazing. First season’s a bit shakey, but after that, it becomes utterly brilliant.” Then you’ve got Evil Dead semi-hero Ash, who hopefully won’t just say ‘groovy’ over and over again, the less funny but more varied one from Sam and Max, and GLADOS as dealer.

Also Claptrap. Bloody Claptrap. A character that, in both Borderlandses, we’re repeatedly expected to laugh at despite his doing nothing to earn it. If any game character didn’t deserve wider pop-cultural status, it’s that jabbering uncomedian.

Grumble grumble. Here’s the requisite trailer:

This is out in April, on PC and the other things with worse graphics. The age-ratings warnings reveal that it will feature “use of tobacco” as well as violence, gambling, swears and double-entendres. Saucy.

In his verdict on the first game, John thought the poker in that poker game was rubbish, and there’s been nothing yet on how that side of the sequel will be improved, bar vague declarations that it’s suitable for both pros and novices.

Also, there are unlocks for other games to be had. You can find out about those here, or attempt to ready the tiny blurred text in my poorly-resized screengrab below.

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65 Comments »

  1. MuscleHorse says:

    The first game was pretty much solely a vehicle to unlock items for TF2 and I will not be hoodwinked ag oh look, Evil Dead themed items!

    • Revolving Ocelot says:

      I have replaced my need for TF2 hats with Dota 2 hats. So far there’s been no promotional tie-ins. Wish me luck.

      • Stupoider says:

        You sound disappointed that there aren’t any hats that break the theme/style of DOTA 2! It’s kind of depressing seeing the TF2 characters reduced to promotional mascots these days/months/years.

        • KikiJiki says:

          There are, it’s called the Alpine Ursa set and rough guesstimates of its value (discontinued and only a few hundred in existence) say several hundred dollaridoos.

          • Stupoider says:

            It was a travesty that the set got into the game in the first place. The workshop page had a rating of around 3 stars but Valve still saw fit to include it into the game despite the protestation. Fingers crossed they learned their lesson.

        • Revolving Ocelot says:

          I don’t think you’ve seen Lone Druid’s panda.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            Yeah there were never any pandas in DotA…

          • Revolving Ocelot says:

            You’re not understanding the difference between white and black pandas that run around making panda noises and blue whirly pandas that NEVER STOP CYCLONING ME.

    • Klydefrog says:

      You say that but it was also just a really nice poker game and the best way to play poker on your own without actually risking real money that didn’t look like shit.

      • Kitsunin says:

        It was an -okay- poker game, more like. I feel it could have been pretty great if the AI was a bit better, and there were actually enough voice clips to keep you going for even just five games. It was quite enjoyable though until the voices started getting stale. Which sadly, was extremely quick.

        And urgh, they really do have an uphill battle, with Claptrap as one of those voices now.

        • UmmonTL says:

          Yeah, Poker Night wasn’t all that good. The AI had no variety so you could pretty much find one tactic that worked and repeat it over and over. And more voiceclips would have been appreciated.

  2. IneptFromRussia says:

    these are surprisingly good

  3. Danda says:

    Thief: Where’s Stephen Russell?!
    Poker Night 2: Where’s Bruce Campbell?!

    No, wait. Nobody is offended by fake Ash…

    (…because nobody cares about Poker Night 2?)

    • RedViv says:

      Nobody except everybody.

    • MSJ says:

      From what I have seen lately, Bruce Campbell is way too busy working on and then promoting the Evil Dead remake (or alternate universe version according to Sam Raimi).

      • plugmonkey says:

        That and making Burn Notice.

        But still, if you’re not getting BC, why bother having Ash? I mean, without Campbell, he’s really not that interesting a character.

        Not even the awesomeness of Patrick Warburton can save this.

        Also, I never really found ClapTrap that annoying. If he’d never existed, we wouldn’t be able to shout “Look at me! I’m Danson!” at the telly every time there’s an advert for the new series of CSI. And then where would we be?

    • Moraven says:

      First thing I noticed. What is the point of having Ash if you do not have Bruce Campbell do the voice.

    • mwoody says:

      Yeah, seriously. I was actually onboard when Sampson came on screen, then extra thrilled when Ash showed up… then he spoke, and my wallet snapped closed. There’s no way I’m going to stomach hours of fake Bruce Campbell.

      I understand GroovyBruce might be busy, but if that’s the case, get another character. Don’t try to shovel this faux-Bruce on us.

    • Ruffian says:

      Pretty much what everyone else said. I realize it’s probably to promote Evil Dead or whatever, but seeing as the movie doesn’t even have bruce’s character, I would think, for the same reason that this won’t work (that it’s just too hokey when other people try to do BC – it’s like somebody trying to be jim carrey) it seems kinda pointless. Bruce’s just got a rare goofy charisma that’s hard to imitate.

  4. pakoito says:

    Is that Joe Swanson?

  5. Simplisto says:

    I have the second and third game, but haven’t played either. Should I just skip to the third, or should I try and get hold of the first game and go in order?

  6. Jackablade says:

    I think the real question here is how long before the Venture Brothers and Evil Dead episodic adventure game seasons start?

  7. LionsPhil says:

    Maybe this time it’ll be a poker game that knows the rules of poker.

  8. PopeRatzo says:

    This promo for other games had better be free. As in beer.

    In fact, it should probably be a Borderlands 2 mini-game.

  9. Sardonic says:

    Holy cow, that TF2 hat, day 0 purchase.

  10. Metalfish says:

    I kinda enjoyed poker night 1. It was diverting, and made me a bit better at poker. The AI was a little shoddy. However I wouldn’t have paid full price for it, which probably says it all.

  11. mondomau says:

    Firstly, Alec, I love you man, but don’t you diss Claptrap. Secondly, I quite enjoyed the first Poker Night – it wasn’t amazing, but it’s a good way to learn the basics while listening to some mildly amusing banter. Thirdly, this looks great, but I am a bit miffed about the Borderlands cross-over – everyone else gets an awesome character head (Zero’s is especially cool) and the Siren gets a Poker Visor?! I’m going to have a sulk about that.

    • Vandelay says:

      I am not ashamed to admit I burst out laughing when, near the end of Blands2, Claptrap finally managed to open a giant door, only to be confronted by stairs.

      Didn’t really care for him in the first game, but he cracked a smile from me a few times in the sequel.

  12. sirflimflam says:

    I really hope they actually add a multiplayer component to this one… The banter between the characters can only lead me so close to a purchase this time around, otherwise it’s basically just the same old game we paid and played before. Being able to play with friends would secure a purchase in a heartbeat…

  13. Phantom_Renegade says:

    Of Sam and Max, Max is the interesting one, and he was in the first one. I played Borderlands for half an hour before getting extremely bored, and Claptrap didn’t exactly help by being rather annoying. Don’t even know the other two, only bros I know are the Mario bros. I’d rather have the murderous AI as a player. There are a lot of interesting and funny game characters that would make this a game I’d be interested in. They somehow managed to avoid all of them.

  14. SkittleDiddler says:

    Ah look, another cross-marketing promo I won’t be spending more than $5 on.

    • misterT0AST says:

      Woha! Calm down there! Don’t you think you’re being too hard on them? Throwing 5 dollars at them for their shameless promotion? What kind of monster would even conceive such a terrible revenge!

  15. Soldancer says:

    I like the concept of cross-universe characters participating in a game, I just sort of wish it were something besides poker. Poker is only an interesting game with other actual people, because against an AI it’s really just maths, and even then I don’t care much for it.

    In other news, I’m glad I’m not the only one who sort of liked Claptrap. He got mildly annoying at times, but in the Zomnbie Island and Claptrap Revolution DLCs, they did a much better job of making him actually funny, especially in the latter since it made fun of fan reaction to the character. I realize he’s a pretty divisive character, though. I’ve only played the first Borderlands, so that’s all I have to go one for this one.

  16. Low Life says:

    Also Claptrap. Bloody Claptrap. A character that, in both Borderlandses, we’re repeatedly expected to laugh at despite his doing nothing to earn it. If any game character didn’t deserve wider pop-cultural status, it’s that jabbering uncomedian.

    Either I’ve been overestimating the developers or you’re underestimating then, but from the first moments with that thing what you describe is exactly what I thought Gearbox was aiming at with the character. It’s supposed to be annoying and it’s supposed to be unfunny. I don’t know/remember enough about the first game (never managed to play it more than a couple of hours), but in the second one all the NPCs treat it as such, too.

    • Koozer says:

      I think Claptrap was meant to be funny because he is so unfunny when trying to be funny, when in reality he is just flat out unfunny. Isn’t that funny?

    • Metalfish says:

      Yup, he pisses off more or less everyone but being unfunny/annoying/jerkish. Even the likeable characters have nasty elements, hammerlock (sending you to slaughter local wildlife), Moxxi (obsession with gladiatorial events) etc, etc. Tannis is probably the only returning character who isn’t especially bloodthirsty and she’s completely delusional (in a ‘comedy’ fashion). Then again, this is Pandora, a very shitty place.

      • Xan says:

        In fact the only SANE character is General Knoxx, who starts showing signs of insanity much later after he’s forced to endure a really REALLY shitty admiral… I felt sorry for Knoxx

        Hell is when your boss is Admiral Mikey…

  17. deadly.by.design says:

    Claptrap was 100% annoying in Borderlands, but maybe only 75% in BL2. So, hey… improvement.

    • Dowr says:

      Claptrap was the only good thing about Borderlands.

      • SavageTech says:

        So are you stuck in some kind of time warp where every day is opposite day, or is it just a standard parallel dimension scenario where certain things are better/worse?

        I didn’t spend very long on Borderlands because it got boring, but what finally got me to quit was the thought that I’d never have to hear Craptrap (a.k.a. Clapshit) and his grating voice ever again.

  18. thegooseking says:

    I really enjoyed the first one.

    I also bought it in one of those ridiculously cheap sale thingies (though not a Steam sale; I seem to remember I bought it from Telltale’s website, but still ridiculously cheap).

    These two facts may not be unrelated.

  19. Lokik says:

    Weird. I’ve never really played poker before, except today, spending over two hours in Far Cry 3 to learn the basics. Then I come here, and this news is up. It seems like some higher power wants me to learn and play poker. Challenge accepted.

  20. vodka and cookies says:

    Drop everything and buy the DVD/BD of Venture Brothers season 01-04 you will not regret it. It’s a send up of GI-Joe and Cobra, Johnny Quest etc but you don’t have to have grown up with those to appreciate it.

    Same goes for Archer on FX, a send up up of James Bond and the cold war, they should have had Sterling Archer on the table too.

    Scratch that an entire game based on Archer would be amazing, a black comedy version of Monoliths classic No One Lives Forever.

    • mondomau says:

      >Same goes for Archer on FX, a send up up of James Bond and the cold war, they should have had Sterling Archer on the table too.

      That would pretty much guarantee a day one purchase from me.

      • mwoody says:

        Man, I’d preorder that. And I preordered SimCity, so for me to ever preorder something again after that is really saying something.

  21. Hahaha says:

    Glancing at the comments to this after reading the comments on the last simcity article is amusing.

  22. hypercrisis says:

    Wasn’t that hat intended to be released waaaaaay back with Max’s Severed Head, but dropped because it was too big and distracting? Nice to see they stopped giving a shit.

  23. Nicodemus Rexx says:

    Ya know… after all the time I’ve spent waffling around about joining RPS’ Forums or whatever, I’m a little ashamed that this is the thing that finally pushed me over the edge.

    Nah, I’m just kidding, I don’t care. :p

    Here’s why I’m excited about this game: GLaDOS, Patrick Warburton, and Ash (Groovy!).
    Clap Trap was actually mostly amusing to me in Borderlands 2 in spite of my extreme ambivalence toward him in the first. Ultimately I think Handsome Jack would have been a far more entertaining competitor. Probably would have cost way more to get his voice actor though.

    Why I’m confused and a little concerned about this game: As several people have said: Why even make this game without Bruce Campbell? I was led to believe that’s why they aren’t even trying to put “Ash” as we know him in the Evil Dead Remake, because Raimi knew that not having Bruce in the role is terrible. He IS that role. It’d be like making a movie where Indiana Jones isn’t some young dashing adventurer, but like some old guy who…. oh… ooooh….
    I’m gonna hope Bruce was just missing for recording dialogue for this teaser, but I’m sure I’ll be dissapointed.

    Why I’m slightly annoyed about this game. For reasons far weaker than my Bruce Campbell objections: Seriously? A Dealer Cap for the Siren as an unlock? That’s the best you could come up with?
    Brock Samson hair for Gunzerker? Cool… Turret suit for the Assassin? Nice! EVIL ASH for the commando?? Oh heck yeah! For the siren: Dealer cap.

    Wouldn’t you know it that’s the character I play most? Use your creativity people!

    Ah well, whatever. Congrats if you actually read all this Crap. :p

  24. Tiax says:

    I liked Claptrap very much in BL 2.

    There, I said it, WATCHA GONNA DO ?

  25. MacTheGeek says:

    What I would have wished for Poker Night 2:

    1) Better AI
    2) More than 5 players at the table… with the extra spaces available for…
    3) Multiplayer! (Requiring the AI players to be present should suffice to allay any fears of “real” gambling)
    4) Other poker variations (although if the game has a hard time playing Hold’Em decently, it would probably curl up in the fetal position and sob quietly in Omaha Hi-Lo)

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