Review: Reel Deal Casino: Gold Rush (PC)

Reel Deal Casino: Gold Rush
Genre: Gambling, MMORPG
Developer: PhantomEFX
Publisher: PhantomEFX

System Requirements:
Minimum
AMD, Celeron or Pentium III 700
512 MB Memory

Recommended
AMD, Celeron or Pentium IV 1GHz
1 GB Memory

Required
Windows 2000 or later
CD-Rom
1.5GB Hard Disk
Mouse
DirectX 9.0c or later
Sound Card: Windows Compatible (must be DirectX 9.0c Compatible)
Video Card: DirectX Compatible (must be DirectX 9.0c Compatible)

I’m not the biggest PC gamer. This preference has nothing to do with my feelings of whether or not the PC is a viable gaming platform as much as it is just because I prefer to sit on my couch when I play a video game. That and my wife would get pissed if I moved the couch into my office.

With that said I’ve never really played any of the previous Reel Deal Casino games. I like gambling video games in general since you can lose all your money without actually losing all of your money, so I decided to give Reel Deal Casino: Gold Rush a shot. From just looking at the front of the box I thought it would be a fairly simple game. The box advertises 36 casino games, so I installed the game and got ready to just play a few hands of poker.

It took me only a few minutes to realize I was in for something much deeper than I expected. I thought I was jumping into something shallow like a kiddie pool and instead I jumped straight into the deep end of a gambling ocean.

I really should have known what was coming before I started playing. For example, I completely ignored the manual that came with the game because I generally ignore all manuals that come with games the first time I open them. That way I can find out exactly how difficult a new player would find the game, and how hard the interface is for a new player to manage. Once I realized that there was a substantial amount of content in the game, I looked for the manual.

The manual is over 150 pages long.

Before you freak out over the size of the manual, you should know that the game is easy to install, navigate and play. The reason for the size of the manual is because it contains descriptions of all the games involved and includes statistics and tips on how to play the games. Hell, reading the manual is worth having just for tips on all of the games if you plan on playing them at a real casino.

The thing is, I mistook the game as just another PC assortment of gambling games.

Instead Reel Deal Casino is an MMO Gambling RPG.


The game looks deceptively simple, yet it has a lot of depth

You read that right. There’s a whole single player game, but it’s the multiplayer experience that really sets this game apart. They key component is the online portion, so I’m going to explain that part for a moment. The online game has a lot of similarities to an MMORPG. You gain experience and levels, join guilds, purchase items, and there are even specific trails to follow. If you have certain other Reel Deal packs, there’s the ability to generate quests. Instead of battling monsters in an overworld with other players, in Reel Deal Casino you’re battling odds in different games of chance inside a virtual casino.

In Reel Deal, experience is gained by pretty much every action you take. Pull the level of a slot machine, play any of the table games, make a bet on a sport or race, participate in a tournament, etc, you gain experience points. Pretty much anything you do gains you experience, whether you win or lose. In addition to experience you can earn VIP points. These points can be used to redeem prizes. There are benefits to leveling up, such as when you gain levels the Casino rewards you with cash and/or VIP points, also the amount you can bet is restricted to your level. Once you gain a high enough level you can spend more, plus even gain your own suite that you can decorate with items purchased using the VIP points. You are notified immediately when you gain a level, and a helpful email is sent to you explaining what you just gained. There are also two different types of cash: Dream World and Real World. The main difference between them is that the Dream World odds are more favorable than the Real World ones, but you can’t use Dream World money in tournaments and table games. Real World money is just a term for Real World odds. At no point do you actually use the money out of your wallet to bet on a game.

Got all that?

Honestly I’m amazed that mixing MMO properties with a gambling system is legal. It’s like some type of wonderful drug. You want to bet money so you can gain a level, which results in more money so you can bet more and gain more levels. One of the best parts about this is at no time does it feel like you are grinding levels like in an MMORPG like Everquest. You’re just playing different games and it occurs naturally.

The graphics for the game are simple, as you’d expect from a game where the main chunk of the gameplay is looking at cards/dice/slots. The main casino is shown from an isometric perspective and you move your mouse over the table/slot that you want to play. A Heads Up Display also has buttons that allow you to sort through some of the casino stuff faster, like bringing up a map of the casino so that you can click and move to where you want to go, look at trophies, check out your player information, and more. It’s quick, unobtrusive, and for the amount of content in the game, it’s also extremely easy to manage.


The graphics aren’t the level of Crysis, but they don’t need to be

One great feature is the First Timers feature. Much like the manua,l this feature allows you to learn about any of the games before you play them. Since Gold Rush is an expansion to the rest of the Casino, many of the 36 games might be unfamiliar to you, or at least they were unfamiliar to me. The First Timers menu gives a great deal of information about each game, and if you are confused in the text box of any game there is an info tab that you can click on and get a brief description of the game. So even if you are like me and at first skipped the manual, these features make it so that you do not get confused or overwhelmed by the individual games.

So the interface is just fine, and while the graphics aren’t going to amaze you at all they function perfectly for the game.

The music in the game goes with the theme of the old west, and if that’s not the type of music you want to listen to while playing this game you can easily turn it off. Other than that it’s the sound of cards flipping and coins getting spit out of slot machines. Like the graphics it works for this type of game, but it’s not the thing that you’re going to want the buy the soundtrack from.

One of the features about the game that I want to make sure I mention is the inclusion of a Sports Book and Racing Book. The game allows you to bet on fictional greyhound or horse races, and even allows you to watch them from a top down perspective. Alhough the horses down seem to race like real horses, they are sort of jittery and from the overhead perspective it looks like they run into each other a lot. Also I’ve played a lot of horse racing sims and this mode is pretty much just scratching that surface. Same with the greyhound racing. Still, it’s fun to see the odd names that are generate, and watch the races, though you might not keep coming back to this feature very often.


Horse Racing, the only sport left where steroids are encouraged

The Sports Book on the other hand is a fantastic addition and when online allows you to place bets on real world teams with the scores update live. As you’re gaining experience and playing card games, it’s fun to drop in and place bets on some of your favorite sports teams then either watch the games or check the scores later to see if you won. This mode has more to it than just straight betting as well, you can bet on point spreads, over/under, and parlay bets. There are a number of sports represented, like MLB, NBA, WNBA, NFL, etc, but I was disappointed to see there’s no MMA. As a huge MMA fan, I’d love to use the sports book in the game to place wagers on fights. Maybe in the future. If you do not play it online the game substitutes real teams for fake ones, like the Minnesota Norsemen instead of the Minnesota Vikings.


What, no pro-wrestling?

To summarize, online = addiction for this game. Like many games of this nature, there is a subscription fee, which is just $7.99 a month. Since the game itself is only $20, I think this is a great value for the game. You can play online without the subscription fee, but you aren’t able to use the experience system and several other features. There’s also a single player mode, which is similar to the online experience, but you’re playing with computer opponents instead of live ones, and the experience system is not present.

My biggest complaint is the load time. The load time occasionally takes awhile when I played, but that could be something that’s more specific to my computer system, which is a piece of junk.

I’d like to implore the developers of the game, who are in the process of creating a new 3D Casino, to consider making a console version of either this or the 3D Casino. I know people who spent $10 on just Texas Hold “ËœEm poker for Xbox Live Arcade. With 36 different games in just this package and the MMO aspects of it, I can see this easily being a hit on a console system. I’m not sure how successful an MMORPG will ever be on a home console, but an MMO Gambling game like this one? I think it would be a huge hit.

Final Score
Game Modes: Great
Graphics: Decent
Sound: Decent
Control/Gameplay: Great
Replayability: Classic
Balance:Good
Originality: Above Average
Addictiveness: Unparalleled
Appeal: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Good

Final Score: VERY GOOD GAME

Short Attention Span Summary:
yeager-1.jpgReel Deal Casino: Gold Rush is a stand alone package filled with enjoyable gambling games and an easy to use interface for handling everything in the game. Online it’s an expansion to a larger Casino game experience that is one part gambling, one part MMO, and one part gateway drug. If you are interesting in gambling games, this one will have you attached to your keyboard for hours playing every game until you’ve reached the next level. For the time you’ll spend playing versus the cost of the game, Reel Deal Casino is a great value. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Gambler’s Anonymous meeting to attend.

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