|System: X360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Wideload Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 Publisher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 13, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 2-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
The subtle intricacies of maintaining a poker face when sitting behind an excellent hand of cards and staring down your competition across the table is thrilling for some. Beyond working the cards to your best advantage, theres a whole other level of strategy that comes into play at the table in the form of reading other players and actively working to deceive them. And when wagering chips and strategizing isnt enough of a gamble, cheating ups the ante, the fun, and the danger. In a real poker game, most cheaters would worry about getting caught and subsequently roughed-up; thats less of a concern in Texas Cheat Em, since everybody is a cheater.
Rather than letting you simply count cards or sneak a few aces up your sleeve, Texas Cheat Em takes a go big or go home approach to cheating. The game is as much about bending the rules and doing everything in your power to foil your opponents as it is about trying to put together a winning hand. Its this extra layer of malicious strategy that transforms a tried and true card game into something far more entertaining. Sure, its a niche offering for card game enthusiasts, but its one that endures well beyond its cheater gimmick.
You dont have to be a poker expert to be able to quickly grasp the underpinnings of Texas Cheat Em, though some familiarity with the card game certainly helps. For those who have little-to-no experience playing the Texas Hold Em poker variant the only kind of poker offered in this package extensive tutorials are included to walk you through the rules of the core game and the new cheat-heavy tactics. You have two hole cards to work with at the start of each hand and five community cards are sequentially unveiled as the rounds progress. The objective is to build the strongest five-card hand using a combination of your hole cards. Its still relatively easy to pick up even if youre not familiar with all the various card combinations and associated scorings, since a handy feature automatically shows you the best possible hand that can be made from the available cards.
The original card game is fun in and of itself, and the slight changes to the way bets are handled and money is doled out in the end (the pot is divided between the top three hands instead of winner-takes-all) are good adjustments to make the game a better fit for the new elements namely, cheating yourself silly. In each round of a particular hand, youre given cheat points that can be spent on firing off quick cheats to potentially give you a momentary upper hand. They can also be saved up in order to unleash a string of cheats or engage more powerful cheats that can make a huge impact on the current hand. To keep things interesting, youre not the only cheater at the table; all of your opponents will make good use of every available opportunities to thwart you and each other throughout every hand. With all kinds of cheats being thrown down from all directions at different times, the tide of each hand can change at a moments notice. This unpredictability and chaos makes the gameplay more exciting than a standard hand of Texas Hold Em.
With a total of 15 possible cheats at your disposal, things can get chaotic very quickly. Theres a great mixture of offensive, defensive, and strategic abilities to draw from. Personal vendettas against opponents can be intensified by stealing their chips, switching out one of your hole cards for one of theirs, sapping all of their cheat points, and looking at their hand with x-ray vision. A helpful defensive cheat also protects a player from such attacks. Other cheats help you out by letting you modify one of your own cards or a community card, swap out cards from the deck, view the community card before theyre unveiled, fake a bluff, guarantee a win, and even fold without losing your chips.