My first PC came with a pack of games. While there were some indiscriminate titles I don’t recall, and a couple revamped classics, the game I remember most was Hoyle Classic Board Games (or something like that). It was a collection of generic board games (Chess, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Yahtzee, Battleship and Dominoes) with some unique twists. Hoyle Card Games 2009 is basically the same thing…but with cards. It goes a couple steps beyond your typical board/card game compilations, and creates a unique experience that is actually worth buying for bored card sharks. But it still gets restricted by the fact that it is still a bunch of card games.
HCG has a fairly impressive lineup of games that you can play, with normal point-and-click playing, a la Hearts/Solitaire. It has all the major variations of poker, such as Texas Hold’em and Five Card Stud, lots of standard single-player card games like Solitaire and Memory. And it has some other odds and ends games like Pinochle and, my personal favorite card game of all, Pitch. But there are lots of PC compilations of card games out there, right? So what makes HCG so good? The entire game has a big, entertaining cast of people that interact with each other, and can talk with you during the game. They comment on each other’s moves, complain after losing a hand (or cheer when they win), and talk about all the finer points of life. The cast is made up of many unique characters, including bears, robots and aliens, as well as every imaginable stereotypical person you could imagine. Each character is fully voice-acted, giving them a distinct personality on top of it. This really sets all the Hoyle titles apart from other computerized titles, and makes it worth buying, if the interest is there.
The game is somewhat disappointing, graphically. While you usually can’t expect much from card games, as I said, the game can take pride in its very nicely-done characters. But it doesn’t really take full advantage of this. Rather than having a badass setup where you can look around the table, seeing all the freaks and geeks around you looking at their hands, the game takes the typical helicopter view of the table, with the characters represented merely as talking avatars. If they went further, it would’ve been a legitimately great game. But in my opinion, they simply fell short on the potential Hoyle Card Games has.
The thing is, though, that this title only costs $20. So while it doesn’t maximize its potential, it is still a solid buy. It’s an EXCELLENT Christmas present for your grandma that plays Hearts and Solitaire on her computer. But you know what you’re getting after reading this review, and unless it really appeals to you, I can’t recommend buying it for you.