‘Xbox Live in the palm of your hands’ is a pretty compelling argument to make to any gamer who’s thinking about what platform to upgrade to, especially considering how well the Xbox has performed in the US and UK this generation.
But, let’s face it, that’s not what Windows Phone 7 has really offered in the whole.
Other than the welcome appearance of achievements and the (less welcome) inclusion of those annoying avatars, two killer aspects of a mobile Xbox Live - the ability to play the same games on the move and the excellent multiplayer facilities - have been sadly missing.
Full House Poker manages to provide some kind of cross-platform play, offering up a link between the home and mobile versions, but it’s a few cards short of a full deck.
Deal me in
Released at the same time as the XBLA version of the game (as with the splendid ilomilo), Full House Poker pits your avatar up against computer-made regulars and pros in a series of Texas Hold ‘em game types, ranging from cash games and tournaments to heads-up duels.
Progress in the mobile game is tracked by both your bank balance (of fictional currency) and your player ‘level’.
This level isn’t determined by your ability to make a hand out of nothing, however, but is instead measured on the amount of XP you’ve accumulated at the game.
Play the game (badly)
XP is the currency used to unlock new goodies like custom decks and access to better ‘pros’, but the system overall is a tad broken.
Every hand you get dealt doles out the points, as does folding without betting - an odd way of penalising the blinds.
Even stranger, you can rack up a fair few XP by limp-calling and folding on the flop, which effectively promotes poor playing technique.
It’s also worth noting that bluffing isn’t rewarded at all by the XP system, so a devilish player is given the cold shoulder, wheras a brainless chip-waster gets a pat on the back.
So what beats a flush again?
As can be guessed by the odd rewards system, Full House Poker isn’t exactly designed for the serious mobile poker player.
Making matters significantly less appealing for that crowd is the level of opposition, who seem to be from the school of hard knocks - as in they tend to spend most their time hammering their knuckles on the table to call.
Even the slightest raise causes those with bad hands to fold, which results in predictable betting and games dragging on and on as the blinds slowly rise.
The link-up between home console and mobile game is admirable - the back balance can be added to away from the machine, and unique WP7 unlockables obtained via the rubbish XP system - but the lack of decent opposition, both AI or human, means that Full House Poker for WP7 feels a little half-empty.