Hoyle Casino 2003

Reviewed by: Paul Schneider, send e-mail
Published by: Sierra Games, go to the web site
Requires: PC - Windows 95/98/2000/Me/XP, Pentium 133 or higher, 16MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM, 640x480 16 bit color, 145 MB HD space; MacOS: Power PC or Power Mac G3 including iMac, System 7.5.3 or higher, 4x CD-ROM, 640x480 thousands of colors, 32MB RAM, 145MB HD space (handheld option as well)
MSRP: $38.99

Hoyle, for most people, means card games. Whenever I wanted to look up the rules or find a new card game, I would check my slightly tattered Hoyle's book of rules. Like Hoyle and card games, Vegas and card games go hand in hand too. So I was not terribly surprised to find that my experience with Hoyle Casino brought back my own memories of Vegas.

The game starts out with a terrific little intro movie of you driving in a convertible right out of the desert and into Vegas. Although this is one of those things you watch but once or twice, it definitely sets the tone. Hoyle Casino 2003 allows you to play just about every major casino activity you can think of. These include; Baccarat, Blackjack, Caribbean Stud, Craps, Let it Ride, Pai Gow Poker, Poker, Roulette, Slots, Three Card Poker, Video Blackjack and Video Poker, Horse Racing, Keno, and Poker. If that wasn't enough, most of these games, poker and slot machines in particular, have a plethora of different types and options. Of course the best part is you start out with $5,000 and if you just happen to lose your lady luck, the bank will gladly loan you another $5,000. If you lose the second bankroll you are pretty much out of luck, but at least you don't get your virtual legs broken!

The game starts with the creation of a personal character. Using Hoyle’s character generator you can design your own face. You also choose how chatty you want the other characters to be as well as if you would like to have any background noise. Last, if you are unsure of yourself you can turn on hints for any or all of the games. When was the last time you sat at a high stakes game and someone whispered hints into your ear?

I suppose one of the best indicators of a good casino game is how well it sucks you in causing you to worry about losing and wining fake money. The answer for me came late at night when I felt that gambler’s twitch and found myself saying things like, "Come on just one more try, my number has to come up this time." All this, even though I knew cognitively that odds simply don't work that way! Let's just say that at the end of the evening I was glad I was playing with computer money.

The game keeps statistics of your play throughout which can be both sobering and interesting. Personally I think it's a good idea to check these out before you plan your next big Vegas trip! The characters (people who play with you, if you choose to include them) are fun at first, but like most animations get a bit tiring as they begin to repeat the same catch phrases. The casino sounds are simple enough, but are quite effective in providing an authentic Vegas casino background noise.

If you are thinking of going to Vegas to do a little gambling or you spend entirely too much time there already, you should check out Hoyle Casino Game 2003. Where else can you stop in the middle of a bet to look up the rules, study them, then return to the game to make a more intelligent bet. Nor can you find someplace where your high losses can be wiped away by just clicking, "Yes I want to delete all records of my incredible losing streak and start over fresh with a new $5000." Ah, if only life were that easy!

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