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PhantomEFX specialise in casino games for the PC under the ‘Reel Deal' moniker and looking at the number of titles available it seems there must be a market for this sort of thing. In this review I'm looking at three of their titles - slots, casino games and card games.
I found the slots games rather confusing - maybe regular slot machine users or Vegas visitors are used to these sorts of machines but I'm certainly not. You start by choosing how much cash you want to insert into the machine, how much each ‘go' will cost - from 1 cent all the way up to $100 and whether you want ‘real world' or ‘dream world' odds (which determines how easy it is to win & how much your winnings are worth). You can then select up to 20 lines which are drawn in various patterns across the play area - if you get a winning line on any of these then you'll win the cash. There are 24 different ‘slots' and 5 video poker games. Each slot is essentially the same except for the graphics used and the occasional rather peculiar mini-game.
I really couldn't see the point of this game.
I really couldn't see the point of this game - I used to enjoy playing fruit machines back in my youth and before then I always got a kick out of watching my Mum play them - especially when the coins came streaming out of the bottom. The sound of the £100 jackpot paying out was guaranteed to draw envious looks! But here you're playing with no money changing hands and no gain or loss so there's no real emotional engagement. So it's all rather dull and after a few minutes I completely lost interest.
Millionaires club comprises a plethora of casino related games made up of 39 table games (poker, blackjack and so on), 9 slots, 5 video poker games plus two other games called ‘Racebook' and ‘Sportsbook' which I'm afraid I couldn't make head or tail of.
The table games are certainly done very well and it's actually quite a nice way to get into playing some games you're not likely to have come across before (unless you're a regular casino goer that is). Not being one myself I had only heard of blackjack and poker but several of the games are just variants of others so once you know one you can pick up the others quite quickly. You are represented on the table by a little animated figure which you create sim-like at the start of the game and they perform little jigs and animations as you rack up or, more likely, lose your pot.
You don't actually win any real money in the games you play online.
Millionaires Club also has an online mode where you can play tournaments with other players - the first month is free, after which you'll have to pay a monthly subscription. You don't actually win any real money in the games you play online, but you don't lose any either! Unfortunately, try as I might I couldn't get the online mode working properly. First my browser was not at all happy with the security credentials of the site, then accounts I'd created were indicated to have expired straight away and finally I was unable to log in because the text entry box wouldn't accept enough characters for me to enter my email address! If you interested in this sort of game then I expect the online mode will interest you as well so you might like to persevere longer than I did.
This one is obviously a slightly older game from the PhantomEFX stable as the graphics are a little dated and the game itself doesn't integrate into the suite with the other two.
A very varied range of 1, 2 and 4 player games such as Clock patience, Cribbage and Canasta as well as a handful of poker variants and some ‘classic' games like Go Fish and Old Maid. Overall there are a total of around 80 games (although most of these are actually solitaire variants) which you play either on your own or against some rather odd cartoonish opponents like a Spanish matador, Dr Jeckyl and a ‘Cat Crusader' who ‘smack talk' each other during the games.
Some of the games are quite fun and I suppose.
Some of the games are quite fun and I suppose it's a nice option for when you can't rustle up a foursome for Bridge. Not being a particularly skilful card player I couldn't really judge the quality of the AI controlled players but they didn't seem to be making any glaring mistakes.
There's something for all tastes in these three game titles, but my favourite would be Millionaires Club. I can't really see the point of simulating fruit machines, no matter how nicely done it is, and while the games in Card Games 2009 are many and varied, the style of presentation didn't appeal to me. If you're a patience game fan though you may like to try this title out. The games are relatively inexpensive - though if your tempted into an online subscription it will quickly mount up.
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