STAFF REVIEW of Bicycle Casino Includes: Texas Hold'em (Xbox)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004.
by Salmonaitor

Bicycle Casino Includes: Texas Hold'em Box art You can practically feel the oxygen being pumped into your living room as you sit in your designated Xbox chair in a trance - eyes glazed over - staring at the screen wondering if the river card will be kind. Bicycle Casino from Activision and Leaping Lizard Production has that sort of effect on you. It?s gambling, and it?s fun.

I enjoy going to the casino every now and then and making a deposit as much as the next guy, but my wife seems to have a problem with that?go figure; well now, I can get the same thrill and excitement in my own home, and don?t have to worry about spending the grocery money. This game is fun, and it has so many games in it, that it?s hard to decide which one is my favourite; but of course, at the end of the day, I?m a Texas Hold?em guy. Yes, I?m a slave to the masses, and hop on the bandwagon of the latest fads, but its fun. The anticipation of the cards coming down is a rush, and I?m hooked. Of course there are other games included (and I?ve even played most of them), it is called Casino, and it?s got something for everybody. There are many different poker variations, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Slots, all the usual suspects, and then some. And with each game, there are different gametypes, different limits, and lots of ways to make your mark.

In single player mode, you play against the AI. Everyone has their own personality, and style to them. When creating your player, you can choose different looks and clothing for him or her. This interface is acceptable, but after being spoiled by a certain golf game, it?s hard to get excited about anything else, but they?re on the right track with this feature, to be sure. They also have animated emotions that you can use, which is very interesting, but could/should have been easier to use, and could also play a bigger role (more on that later). When playing cards, one thing I noticed was that the dealer sounds like Hank Hill (King of the Hill), I?m just waiting for him to say, ?Bets in now, oh, and by the way, at my day job, I sell propane and propane accessories? - I just thought it was funny. The play is good, and everything is laid out really well, but one thing I would like to see, is a little more creativity in the construction of the atmosphere. I think it would have been cool if crowds would gather when a table got hot, if drinks were served and wives came in to drag their husbands out, you know, all the things that make a casino so great. Hey, they could even have a guy come up to you and offer you a High Roller suite if you won over a certain amount. Well, for all I know, they do, because I suck at gambling and haven?t exactly amassed a fortune thus far (and I wonder why my wife doesn?t like me going to Casinos).

BICYCLE CASINO IS LIVE ENABLED!!!!!!!!! Did you hear that?? This is why this game is so cool. When you play the AI, it?s pretty average, because you can?t really bluff against them, but when you get a poor sucker like me at the same table on Xbox Live, that?s when it gets interesting. When you first get into a room, it?s like every game that you play amongst strangers, you know, sort of awkward, a little intimidating, and there?s always that kid, you know, that spam talker who just loves to hear his own voice. After a short while, it loosens up and it?s cool and relaxed, and such a different atmosphere than shooters or sports games, and a really different crowd too. One of the drawbacks, and this is no fault of the creators, is that you?re playing with fake money, and it?s not a real representation of gambling. People are far more frivolous with their fake money, and therefore the lack of risk translates into most people playing a hand out when they might normally fold, but I suppose that comes with any virtual casino; heck, it happens with my buddies and I when we?re playing for quarters.

This game doesn?t have to be spectacular graphically, and it isn?t. It?s smooth, there?s nothing bad about it, but there?s nothing really good about it either. I know some of these games are not looked at as big money makers, and perhaps sometimes the budgets aren?t there, but I?d just like to see a company go out on a limb with these things sometimes. Like what if, instead of having an overview of the table, you could have a player?s view of the table, and as you looked around, you could see the other players expressions and animated emotions, and you could use them yourself to play the game or just have fun. There?s really a lot that could be done with this game, and I hope that someday, someone will get around to it.

The sounds of this game are good and realistic. They?ve captured the sounds of each game very well, and the comments that other players make are quite humorous at times. I guess it would be a little difficult to put ambient sound in, but that is the one thing that is kind of missing, it just seems so quiet at times. And the Hank Hill thing still makes me laugh.

All in all, it?s a good game. I know it sounds like I?m cutting it up a bit, but the reason I have so many suggestions, is because I like this game and I?d like to see it improve. A few of these improvements would make it more fun to play and with a little more detail brought into it, would really enhance the atmosphere. But it is a nice entry into the market for these games, and Xbox Live enabled play is a more than welcome feature.

Good gaming, and keep your stick on the ice,


Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.8 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 7.8 / 10


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