I love Las Vegas. I love the town, the hotels, the action, you name it. Personally, I can’t wait for CES next year just to go back. So, you could imagine my excitement when I was asked to review Phantom EFX’s Reel Deal Casino Gold Rush by our mighty Shogun. What follows is the harrowing account of my evaluation, highs and lows.
Reel Deal Casino Gold Rush utilizes the same standard layout as in most Phantom EFX games. You look down on the casino in an isometric view, and scroll around the area by moving your mouse. To select a game, simply click on it. However it is far easier to select a game from the hot buttons where you can read the names of the available games instead of hovering over tables attempting to remember where that darn Pai Gow was.
There are 36 different games of chance in Gold Rush, the newest additions to any Phantom EFX title would be the Race &amp; Sports Book. You can place bets on horse and dog races as well as utilize live feed data from real sporting events online to play in the sports book. That part of the game is only available online (although dog and horse racing can still be played locally). The casino games, as with most Phantom EFX titles, feel ‘dead on’ to their real-life counterparts in terms of odds, etc. Sometimes the order of operations in a casino game feels a bit disjointing but overall the system works. For example, after every phase of a table game, you muse click a button to allow the action to proceed. This button can be something important such as ‘hit’ or ‘stand’ in Blackjack, but sometimes is a silly ‘Continue’-style button which serves no purpose except to propel the game. In those moments you tend to wish it would just continue on its own to create a better game flow.
The online component of Gold Rush is an excellent improvement in game dynamics. This online component is not unique to this title, however, as a good number of Phantom EFX Reel Deal games are compatible with it. The online aspect not only gives players a chance to meet up and play against one another, but it also gives players a location to trade gambling stories, tips, general chit chat. This community will spur alot of growth in the franchise.
The biggest issue with Phantom EFX titles, and this is no exception, is that the graphics of the title need to be created with much larger resolution variants. We run, as many gamers do, a widescreen LCD at 1920×1200 and the game looks really bad when all stretched out. If played in windowed mode you can see how small the textures were really meant to be. While the textures need alot of help, at least the animations are smooth and the music/sound effects seem appropriate to the game being played. In fact, one hardly notices the graphics issues when playing in windowed mode on a video poker or slot game. We have gotten use to windowed casual games and thats what it feels like (minus the real-world odds of course) when enjoyed. We would definitely like to see a resolution increase in future Phantom EFX titles in order to enjoy it at our larger monitor sizes.
A slightly more confusing issue is that it can be difficult to suss out what a game truly is meant to be a virtual representation of. For instance, in the video poker line of games available to you, there are the self-explanatory ‘Jacks or Better’ and ‘Deuces Wild’, but then we expected to find Double Double and Triple Bonus poker in there as well. As it turns out, Double Double Bonus poker is in the title but under the name ‘Triple Premium Poker’.We verified this using the standard Double Double Bonus payout table and it checks out. This is fairly misleading and, as previously mentioned, confusing.
Despite the issues I have mentioned, Reel Deal Casino Gold Rush is an enjoyable casino title which can be used to keep your skills honed in downtime between trips to Las Vegas, and also is a great way to introduce a newbie to gambling especially given the authenticity of its game’s odds settings. Furthermore, the online component helps to increase community awareness and socialization.
To clarify, this review was written by the mighty Boothby, but submitted by yours truly as he could not do it this morning.