Prominence Poker – Xbox One
Platform: Xbox One
Developer: Pipeworks Studios
Publisher: 505 games
Release Date: August 15, 2016
Genre: Card Games
Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10
Reviewed By: BLAST IMMINENT
Poker on console is a niche market. There should be tons of titles considering how simple the genre is compared to a triple-A game. Poker is fun to play, chatting with friends, in a casual setting. And can get you blood racing in a competitive game. Currently Prominence Poker is the one of very few options on Xbox One. And it happens to be a Free to Play (F2P) game.
High level poker is a precise game of manipulating your opponents with your bets and actions, but online poker varies slightly. Skilled players rely heavily on betting since “reads” can’t be taken from a live person. At the highest levels the slightest variation in bet may signal weakness or strength to a player giving them the information they need to make their move. Can Prominence Poker legitimize itself among high level players? To be successful, it will need to be fun and accessible to the casual player and be able to give elite players the control they need to win.
Gameplay of Prominence Poker is pretty straight forward. Texas No Limit Hold ‘Em is the only game available. That’s it: there are no other variations of poker in the game. The player can choose from solo matches against AI controlled opponents or go online with multiplayer ranked and unranked modes.
While in a game the player uses the triggers to activate a selection wheel. This system seems over-complicated when there are four face buttons that aren’t doing anything. The reason for doing this is that is shows the other players when you are looking at your cards, or if you are considering betting, checking, or folding. While this does add some more of the human element to the game, it comes off clunky. Switching between actions the player has to wait for their avatar to go through a full animation, there is no cancelling animations. If a selection is made too quickly it leaves the player feeling scared, hoping the computer recognized the intended input.
Selecting the betting amount is done with the same wheel selection method. The scale on the wheel changes with the pot. Which is necessary, but choosing an exact bet using a thumbstick when the timer is counting down rarely happens. There is a bit of a learning curve as well when it comes to raising the blinds. It feels like the developer put too much thought into the controls. Simpler would be much better in this case.
There are emotes that can be used during a hand. It is fun to do a throat slice to an opponent you are gunning for. Or wave to the girl who just showed up to the table. And, taking down a big pot and busting into a Cha-Cha dance, is pretty gratifying.
Solo vs Multiplayer
The solo campaign involves going through the underground. Taking down henchmen in tournament style play. Then taking on a boss in head to head play. There are four crews in Prominence, that correspond with the four suits in a deck of cards. The AI is okay. Solid tight poker will pretty much win every tournament. Since the game is free it is fun to get a little creative with the bets and see how the AI will react. The player will gain experience and special badges for taking out each respective gang. For the true poker enthusiast this mode gets old after the tutorial. The real game is online against other real people.
Online the players have the options of ranked play, where they will buy-in to competitive tournaments at tables of six. The top three positions pay out. They also have the option to play ranked head to head matches and gain experience to move up in the rankings. There is a multi-tier ranking system similar to most online ranked games, which places players into a division after they complete five placement matches. Winning tournaments is the only way to progress through the rankings. Players can also expand their Prominence Poker experience through seasons; after the end of each season, top players are rewarded with achievements, and special items. There is unranked play as well, where players also have the option to buy into ring games. Unranked ring games are reminiscent of the wild west; a constant barrage of unskilled players going “all in” on a whim. A seasoned online poker player can easily clean up on these tables.
Not for Children
Since Prominence Poker is free to play, there is the risk of busting out all your chips and having to spend actual money to get back into the game. There is a consecutive daily login reward though, so the game can at least be played every day. Responsible play is the best way to keep increasing bankroll. Players will also be tempted with loot – Fabulous loot! Everything from character customization to table bonuses, like drinks and smokes, or even cell phones! Everything in Prominence Poker uses the same currency. Building up your bankroll will give you more options to customize your character or to buy table items, which give experience boosts. While there are a plethora of options, all table items have the exact same function. There will be special events where, for example, on certain nights smoking table items give bonus XP. Other than that table items are there as decoration.
There is a very shady theme throughout the environments. Obvious drinking and smoking references at the table. The muffled screams in the Russian mafia controlled butcher shop. The suspicious, tightly wrapped, bags of laundry detergent in the seedy mafia controlled laundromat. Prominence Poker is rated Teen, and may have children asking questions their parents aren’t prepared to answer.
Rating and Conclusion
Prominence Poker gets a 6 out of 10 from me. The lack of competition is the only thing that makes this title worth playing. The controls can be downright frustrating, which over shadows the thought put into how they work. It is fun to sit around with your friends and play a casual game. But not having precision control at higher level play is a turn off. There is a lack of value to the in-game items, since they all provide the exact same function at varying costs. The whole experience seems watered down from being free to play. Competing in the ranked tournaments is the only real draw to the game. As a somewhat skilled and competent poker player I will be returning to challenge myself each season. Because I love the game of poker and Prominence Poker is the only place to get it on Xbox.
What do you think will be Prominence Pokers path to success moving forward? Let us know in the comments!
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