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Phantom EFX



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09/02/08 Phantom EFX
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Review: Reel Deal Casino: Millionaire's Club (PC)

By Sqrl 24th Feb 2009 | 3,415 views 

Casino games have a unique charm and there are few good reproductions of those games in the world of PC gaming. So is Millionaire's Club the new hot spot to roll the dice or another risky gamble?

Similar to Reel Deal Card Games '09 which we reviewed recently most of you have probably never heard of the Reel Deal Casino series, and again you probably aren't looking forward to it. So let's start there, what is Reel Deal Casino? Unlike Reel Deal Card Games there is a bit more than meets the eye here this time, but it is still basically a massive collection of Casino games, many from ShuffleMaster, but it also includes Slots and classics like Roulette, Poker, and Keno with Sports Book and Race Book thrown in for good measure. Once again they've added in a tiered prize system along with Diamond Points to keep players interested and goal oriented as they work for prizes and perks to keep the game fresh. But does it work, and is the game worth your money? Lets find out...

Starting with presentation the overall graphical presentation is never a huge factor for games like this, but in this case the game does a pretty good job, particularly considering other entries in this genre including other games from PhantomEX. Not only do things look much better than other entries in the genre, but the menus are also less confusing and most games are easy to figure out with the help of the in-game explanations (with the exception of the Race/Sports Books and Slot Machine games which have no in-game explanation and can be annoying to sort out). A nice improvement is that overlays can be dragged and dropped where you want them and in many cases you can actually adjust their size. The size adjustment is probably most useful for those who have bad eyes but it can also be helpful if you just want to squeeze it into a corner out of the way once you've set your bets and are content to keep hitting "repeat bet".

Sound and music are again a very strange selection, but again they seem to work well despite their oddity. If you read our last review we had an issue with skipping/stuttering music and I can thankfully say this issue was not present again. Unfortunately a new issue has cropped up and those seeking to point the game at a folder with your own MP3's will be disappointed to learn that you have to manually type in the directory each time you load the game. To make matters worse, the game is fickle about accepting key presses - the old entry has to be backed out one character at a time, and you can't copy/paste the new directory in from the clipboard. By the time all of these little issues add up it's almost not worth loading your own music unless you're planning on playing for a long time, or really have to have your music. I suggest loading your own music player on the side and running the game in windowed mode with the sound off, as this is what worked the best for me.

The games themselves work fairly well and while crashes do happen occasionally, the game is significantly better than Card Games '09 about saving data. After every hand your cash is saved and any bets in play will not be lost as it reverts back to the last save. Play on some tables can be a little slow when playing against the AI players and there was no way to eliminate them or speed it up that I found. While playing table games you will build up experience/reputation and once built sufficiently high you will gain access to "trials" for that game. Usually trials involve playing the game until you hit a set hand rank (or better), which is usually extremely annoying as the hand rank required typically has exceedingly long odds. To make it even more frustrating to do trials the house will hit the hand (or better) that you're trying to get several times and in general take you for an absolute ton of money while you're playing the trial. Once you finally complete a game's trial you then can participate in a tournament for that game which usually consists of playing a single table 5 man tournament where you play for 15 or 20 rounds and the player with the most cash at the end wins.

Just as with the poker represented in Card Games '09, the poker in Millionaire's Club is simply not up to par with what you can get for free elsewhere. So the real reason you should be interested in Millionaire's club is if you enjoy the table games found at casino's but don't like the cash you inevitably drop playing them. This game certainly provides a faithful simulation of the experience minus the guy who moans about every loss and excessively celebrates every win (despite him being down overall). The Sports/Race betting is a bit of an odd feature in the game and I honestly didn't find it to be easy to use or particularly interesting as the excitement and intrigue of this sort of betting in reality is assessing the lines and odds being laid and comparing with your own subjective views of the teams/dogs/horses/players involved. But if you're a complete junky for this sort of thing it's here and might be a nice distraction for you.

Reel Deal Casino, like Card Games '09, has online that isn't quite up to what it should be in terms of ease of use, but once you figure your way around and get used to it, it's not so bad and the added replayability of human opponents, or in table games table mates who are also playing the dealer, is worth checking out for the free 15 days you get. But once your 15 days are over you're going to have to sign up at the cost of $8 to $10 a month (depending on how long you subscribe for) and frankly I don't see it as anywhere near worthwhile. So just for reference my "Value" score for the game is based on "Offline Value" not the online, my online value score would probably be 3/10 and frankly I'm being generous at that. Developer/Publisher PhantomEX has their business model to look out for and I don't know what it looks like, but from the consumer perspective I have to say I have a problem paying for a game that I will then pay a monthly fee for, particularly a compilation of games that really isn't unique in content. The final thing I will say about the online is that once again you will need to patch before you can even get online and once again the download is painfully slow even on fast connections.

I said something similar to the following in my last review, but it's just as true now as it was then -- The key to whether or not Reel Deal Casino is worth your hard earned cash is what you're expecting from it. The list of games available is impressive, the overall quality of the package is high for the genre but mediocre overall, and the incentives and goals they create are fairly shallow and uninspiring. So my suggestion is simple; if you're looking to get a game to putz around on at night when you can't sleep, at work when you can't work, won't work, or just don't want to work, or while traveling then this game is probably a solid purchase and you could easily do a lot worse with another entry in the genre. If you're not in one or more of those groups then this is probably a tough sell and I wouldn't recommend it.

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