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When all is said and done, what players really want from a poker simulation is a challenging and rewarding game. With its advanced adaptive learning system, Stacked probably offers the best single-player Texas Hold 'em game currently available. If you're more interested in playing against others, your best option will be to host local ad-hoc games with friends, since the online gaming element of Stacked seems to have lost support both from the community and its organizers. Despite a few sharp edges, Stacked comes up a winner and is worthy of adding to your PSP library.
Well...all told, the game didn't score very well. This was a hard title for me to score during the play of the game. I really liked how it handled the actual gameplay, but the interface issues did really disappoint me. If you have a PSP, and you want a game that can teach you how to play Texas Hold'em poker for a tournament environment, this game will succeed. There is a gem in here, the question remains as to how much polishing players may want to do.
What it ultimately comes down to with Stacked is just how much you want to play a realistic, offline game of Texas Hold 'em. There's certainly no shortage of ways to play this game for free on the Internet, but playing against random online players for fake money doesn't always provide you with much tangible feedback on how your game stacks up in a real cash game or tournament environment. Admittedly, Stacked's AI system doesn't always pull this off either, and there are holes in its game, but there are far fewer than most other poker titles, and it's the best measuring stick for your personal poker skills available in the realm of entertainment software.
Despite some minor technical and presentation flaws, an advanced AI and deep focus on one style of poker should not only keep fans interested, but actually help them to improve their real-life poker experience. While far from perfect, Stacked with Daniel Negreanu is clearly the chip leader in the console poker market. Texas Hold 'em fans looking for a decent portable experience should definitely ante up and give Stacked a shot.
If there is a silver lining to this game it is the A.I.; the folks at Myelin Media used this type of A.I. called POKI which has been in development up in Canada for years. It more then does a good job of figuring out your routine play, so it helps to mix things up on a regular basis. You may be able to go all-in several times in a row in order to steal the blinds, but it will catch on and one of the computer players will end up calling you and make you pay.
In the end the PSP version of STACKED with Daniel Negreanu is still the best Texas Hold 'Em game on the system. The AI is relatively smart, Daniel's in-game help is most usually helpful (it's not always right on the money but there's some solid advice most times) and the ability to sync your PSP game with your PS2 game is a god-send for anyone that wants to continue to play their game on the go and vice-versa. If you haven't tried STACKED and enjoy Texas Hold 'Em then this game on PSP is worth buying or rebating at the very least.
Stacked with Daniel Negreanu is good little poker game for gaming on the go. If you are a pro or veteran of poker games you may want to stay away, but only some time with the game will tell. However if you are a novice or someone who hasn't played many poker video games, this one is for you. The graphics are average and the sound is ok but the gameplay is engaging as it becomes more challenging the more you play and advance through career mode.
The strength of STACKED's AI is what holds the game up. The presentation is lackluster, the audio basic and the character creation severely lacking. Even with all that, this is still the best poker game out there. It's just not a must-have.
PSP owners looking for some poker on the go don't have a lot of good options. With WSOP and Stacked on the market both titles offer something that the other doesn't but in the end neither is really worth getting. I was hoping that Stacked for the PSP would have been better than the PS2 version but sadly the same control issues and lackluster presentation were carried over. Being unable to skip turns also becomes a thorn in the side and you'll frequently have to suspend your system during a game if you are out on the road. If you're desperate for poker to play on Sony's handheld I guess you could rent it though it's not a strong rental suggestion.
Stacked isn't the worst poker game we've ever seen, but it's also quite weak in comparison to many of the other titles we've seen recently. Its AI is mostly solid, but it generally doesn't play aggressively enough to put a whole lot of pressure on you, allowing you to sit back and dictate the course of play. The presentation on a whole is either poor and/or awkward, including the raise adjustment, menu navigation, visuals (specifically for the chips), lack of a reasonable create-a-player and more. These are essentially vital in any poker game and they really stick out when they're not done properly.
In short, I would recommend this game to anyone but the very experienced poker player. Between the custom avatars, multiple game play options, and the online play novices will feel like they’ve just entered the World Series of Poker. Those with only some experience will benefit from play against the AI, as well as online play and by watching the tutorial. But for experienced players, the game will feel like it has all the show of a Las Vegas casino, but with not enough of a risk/reward ratio to make you want to join the players club and head to a table.
Throughout this review I’ve been really critical of how the features in the game have been disappointing and how the graphics and sound have been less than enjoyable. With this in mind I’m just as surprised as you may be to hear that the replay value I found in Stacked is actually quite high. I tend to have the game on (with the sound off for sanity reasons) quite regularly to play a few hands while watching TV or before bed. I’m not sure whether I attribute the replay value to the game itself or to my enjoyment of poker, but either way I can see myself playing it from now on in small doses. Poker is an exciting game to begin with and underneath all the supposed features, lame sound, long loading times, and dark unimpressive graphics is a poker simulation that makes me want to win the tournaments until I’m at the final table with the poker stars. I wouldn’t suggest buying this game for the gimmicks but would wait awhile for the price to drop and buy it as a pure and simple poker game.