Game Review - by James Allen
Currently living in New Mexico, my TV is inundated with commercials advertising local Native American casinos. Apparently, there are huge throngs of people who flock to these betting places, as evidenced by movies such as Swingers. So, in an effort to save both gas and real money, the people of Sierra have produced the latest version of Hoyle Casino, with more improvements and ways to lose your money in the new 2002 version. Will Hoyle Casino win the jackpot, or crap out?
Hoyle Casino features fourteen different casino games that can be played in both single and multiplayer formats. Included in this years version are Baccarat, Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Craps, Horse Racing, Keno, Let It Ride, Pai Gow Poker, Poker, Roulette, Slots and Video Slots, Three Card Poker, Video Blackjack, and Video Poker. In the slot machine category, there are a number of different machines available, implementing single lines, multiple lines, and progressive (jackpot). Each game usually has different ranges of betting, from wimpy ($5 to $1000) to real men ($100 to unlimited). Really, any game that you would ever find in a real casino is featured here in some permutation. On top of this, you can play online against (or with) other human players. Included with the game is a very extensive and detailed manual, which explains the basics of each game and strategy for maximizing your virtual dollar. For example, there is a chart which lists every possible combination in blackjack, and which option to choose. You can even play blackjack on your handheld using Palm OS! Finally, you can customize the look of your player using the Facemaker, a utility while allows a seemingly infinite number of combinations for your head. These features serve greatly to further the longevity of the game, and provide for a great gaming experience.
It seems that a microphone was placed directly in some of the world's best casinos for use in the game. The hustle and bustle is captured beautifully in the virtual casino, especially evident when you enter the facility. The effects for each individual game are also present in full force, from the rattle and roll of the roulette wheel to the bells and whistles of winning at slots. Each AI character in the game has cute little sayings that add to the human aspect of the game. All of the dealers also spout the appropriate verbiage at the correct times. The atmosphere of a working, living, breathing casino is all here in Hoyle Casino, and top-notch sound is the cause.
Hoyle Casino follows all of the rules and intricacies of each casino game. Since most of the game is played against the house, the difficulty is really inherent in the odds against you, which range from astronomical (Keno) to slightly less than astronomical (Craps). As for your AI cohorts, they seem to follow a realistic range of wins and losses, so Bob the Computer isn't cleaning house while you are struggling to break even. At the start of the game, you are given a initial cash amount given on a fake credit card, which is a neat way of depicting the ebb and flow of your cash throughout the game. Earn enough money, and you can get the equivalent of a Gold card. If your funds dip too low, you can always apply for a loan, you loser. All in all, the casino games are emulated well in Hoyle Casino.
Every aspect of a casino is realistically replicated in Hoyle Casino. All of the appropriate layouts of each game is found, from the confusing layout of Craps to the digital board of Keno. The animations at each table, although sometime few, are effective: the collection of bets, the roll of the dice, and the spin of the wheel. Although given in a resolution of just 640x480, the graphics are crisp and clear, and pretty detailed for the most part. Of course, with these low-resolution graphics, Hoyle Casino can work on most systems, no matter how old. Low-resolution doesn't necessarily mean bad, either, and this is evidenced in this game. Everything is just so realistic here; you just can't ask for much more in this department (well, maybe a full 3-D casino, but I ain't complaining).
Hoyle Casino does an incredible job simulating the casino experience in convenient computer form. Almost every game you'd ever want to lose money on is included, with realistic odds and gameplay. With all of the different gaming options, a continually fluctuating bankroll, and multiplayer capabilities, Hoyle Casino looks to be the best casino game available for the PC. But wait: we have great graphics and impeccable sound too! Holy authentic simulation, Batman! If you want to enjoy casino games in all their glory without losing boatloads of cash, Hoyle Casino is definitely the way to go.