Review: Motion X Poker
When I first saw this game, I thought I would pass it by, sticking to a "real" poker game with cards and strategy, which I am more familiar with (although not necessarilly better at). I then downloaded their free dice rolling game just to take a look at, and I was blown away by the graphics and the realism of the program.
$!&*@#!@ the heck, I though, I will give it a try.*
So I downloaded, and gave her a little test drive. You know, around the block, testing the brakes, etc. And let me just say, the game was pretty incredible.
First, the idea of poker dice is that you use 5 dice to try to make a "poker" hand - a pair, three of a kind, two pair, straight, etc. You have three rolls to try to build the best hand, trying to beat your opponent. Obviously since you have give identical dice and each die only have 6 values, the odds are slightly different than regular poker. Also, there is no bluffing or anything, since everyone sees what your hand is (although that would be an interesting dimension to the game, keeping one or more dice hidden). Anyway, you get one initial roll, and two subsequent re-rolls (where you can keep between 0 and 5 of the dice you have already rolled). Truthfully, there doesn't seem to be much strategy in the game since it is primarilly luck if you can get the rolls you need. I suppose there is some strategy in deciding what to go for (keep the 4 dice for the straight, or keep the pair - that sort of thing).
The game has a number of different options you can choose. You have a wide array of dice available to you, and as you play you unlock more. In addition, you can play at a variety of different "tables" which cost more money to play at. As you make more money, you unlock the more expensive tables. Unfortunately, there preferences are mostly visual in nature (tables, dice sets, etc) - nothing regarding the rules or game play itself. You can also unlock various "gems" based on your game play. Each gem requires a specific "event" to occur, and then you unlock it. For example, winning ten spins in a row, or winning with the same hand twice in a row. The gems are eye candy only - unlocking them doesn't actually result in any different options or anything.
Now on to the best part of the game - the graphics. The graphics are stunningly realistic. The dice and the box in which you play are designed extremely well, and when you roll the dice (by shaking the iPhone) the physics of the motion seems very realistic. There were only a couple times that I noticed some bumps on the edges or stuttering in the graphics. In addition, there were a couple times where the dice landed (and stayed) on the edge. But all in all, the graphics are a real treat, and combined with the realistic sounds effects, it can really showcase some of the graphical ability of the iPhone.
Playing the game for a while, it does become somewhat monotonous. Because it feels like the game play is so reliant on luck, I felt like there wasn't really that much interaction in the game. The two main reasons I would go back and play it again and again are because of the graphics, and because I am somewhat of a completionist and wanted to get all the dice sets/gems/tables unlocked. I wish there were some game variants or game options to play with - or even better yet have a multiplayer game option so you could play with more than one person. I am sure there are some variant rules to allow multiple betting rounds, "folding" rounds if you just want to concede, etc.
Pros: Incredible graphics and realistic game play, can be entertaining to try to unlock all the features
Cons: Game play itself can get somewhat boring, lack of variation can lead to a lack of interest in playing
All in all, the is a visually attractive game that can be fun to play, and especially fun to show off with the iPhone. However, after playing a few round of it, and unlocking many of the features, the only thing that is keeping me going at all is to try to unlock all the features. The game was originally $4.99, but is now selling for $1.99. At that price I would suggest getting it if you want to have a game that primarilly is a visual toy to show off the iPhone and which can be fun to play sporadically. If they update it with more game features and play modes, I would say that it would be a steal at $1.99. My ratings isn't being lowered because the game it bad, but simply that a game whose primary goal seems to be to wow people graphically has limited appeal. Three and a half out of five stars
* Reference to a now defunct baseball blog, FIRE JOE MORGAN