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Hoyle Casino Games 2009

Score: 60%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Encore
Developer: Freeverse
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 (Online Multiplayer)
Genre: Card Games/ Family/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Just like the other titles in the Hoyle line of games this year, Freeverse's Hoyle Casino 2009 is far from graphically genius. While it's true that the many slot and video poker machines look good visually, they are nothing special nor are they anything that you haven't seen before. There are some 3D elements in the game as well - including a dealer and tables to sit at - but again, they are nothing to write home about.

In fact, Hoyle Casino 2009's GUI is the main thing that you'll need to worry about, considering that the game is essentially one big 2D interface. While the buttons are easy to use, the general Menu system annoys me a bit. Since the ability to play a large number of games exists, there are sometimes many Sub-Menus involved, but they don't always work the way you would think. When backing out of a game, you're taken straight to the Main Menu instead of the previous Menu, making for unnecessary clicking.

The audio in Hoyle Casino 2009 is a mixed bag. The Menu system has tolerable music, while the in-game machines have authentic slots sound fx. The most notable feature has to be with the avatars that are present in certain games that involve multiple players. With these avatars come positive and negative buttons that can be pressed at nearly any time. If you feel like saying something kind to the person at your side, simple hit the button and strike up a short (automated) conversation. Likewise, if you don't like the way someone played, you can say something witty to their face.


Hoyle Casino 2009 has a ton of different games to choose from, but they are mostly more of the same. The main focus here is on different casino games, ranging from card games to slot and other video casino machines, but you'll also be able to play a couple of lounge games. From the Main Menu, you'll be presented with three categories of play: Tables, Slots And More, and the Sports Lounge And Keno room.

Before you begin, however, you'll have to create your character, or rather an avatar, to represent you both online and off. You do have a very wide variety of combinations to choose from, and the customizability of your avatar is nearly endless. Not only will you be able to drop on individual facial features, but can also move them around a bit to come up with some crazy combinations.

The most entertaining section of this virtual casino is by and far located in the Tables room. Here you'll enjoy games like Craps, Roulette, and different forms of Poker, as well as a new favorite, Texas Hold'em. In the slot room, you'll be able to play multi-line slots and have the ability to set the minimum and maximum bets at each machine when you first sit down. Actually, you can also do this at the tables as well. Also included in the slots room are video poker machines, but I liked the odds and had more enjoyment at sit-down tables, just like in the real casino. In the Sports Lounge, you'll be able to choose from only two games, Keno and Horse Racing. The former is just a game of random number draws (for those who may not know) and the latter is a pretty cheesy representation of a track-betting game, complete with 3D horses running the track. Unfortunately, Hoyle Casino 2009 could have easily added dog tracks or possibly some other simulated games, like basketball, boxing, or other sports commonly bet on in order to fill out this room.

Hoyle Casino 2009, like the other game that I recently reviewed (Hoyle Card Games 2009), has its problems with presentation, graphics, and the Internet play, but it may not feel as bad (with the exception of going online) because some of the problems aren't as severe due to the single-player nature games. The slots were relatively glitch-free, however the graphics on the spinning wheels sometimes did pop a bit. The main problem with Hoyle Casino 2009 comes in the form of dealer animations, where the cards are sometimes transparent. These cards often show the face of a card (instead of the back) when dealing, yet the face appears to always be the Ace of Spades, even when it isn't as it is turned. The table games also tend to be a bit slow, mostly due to the constant interruption of avatars speaking.

There have been updates for Hoyle Casino 2009 already, and each have taken over an hour to download via a wireless LAN. These updates have addressed some issues that I had with the game, but have also added animations and, I believe, audio for the dealers.

However, these updates still haven't addressed the online play's main drawback... that of no people playing. I have yet to be able to test the online component of Hoyle Casino 2009 because I have been the only player signed in at any time while working on this review. If it is anything like the Hoyle Card Games 2009 that I reviewed, it may be riddled with bugs, but as of now, it's even worse because there is no way to try it out.

Hoyle Casino 2009 is also a part of the Royal Suite (along with Hoyle Card Games 2009 and Hoyle Slots 2009). As such, they all have a joint monetary system, so when you create one character/avatar, he, she, or it (there are non-humans in the game as well) will be available in all games, and so will the character's bank roll. If you own all three titles, you will be able to go online into a private area reserved for Hoyle's elite. If you gamble away your winnings, you'll either be able to use the house's credit or be forced to reset your character's money and stats, starting from scratch once again.


There's not much to say about the difficulty of Hoyle Casino 2009, especially considering that playing slot machines is basically mindless entertainment, not to mention horrible odds. You do have the ability to play multiple lines, and adjust the amount of your machine's high/low amounts, but other than that, it's just the luck of the draw. There are also Progressive Jackpots, but like my luck in real life, I have yet to hit anything big.

When it comes to other machines like Video Poker, you'll have a bit more skill involved, albeit not that much more. Here you'll also have to choose which cards to keep and discard, all based on that particular machine's winning combinations. Each machine is different, some being a bit more finicky about which hands will win you some coin.

As far as the table games go, the biggest difficulty falls in knowing how to play each one, and where you have the best odds against the house. Craps is one game in particular that has a variety of possible betting combinations, so those who may not be seasoned veterans in the casinos will have a bit of a learning curve, and it usually happens the hard way... by losing a lot of virtual cash. Other table games of interest are Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, and Caribbean Stud.

Game Mechanics:

Since Hoyle Casino 2009 would easily be defined as a casual game, it does involve a lot of clicking on a 2D interface. This interface is generally good, but does have its problems. A few times I found myself clicking an unwanted button because I was trying to play fast and either mis-clicked or subconsciously got the names on the buttons confused with my intended interaction. The online component still baffles me. I'm not sure if I'm missing something, but it seems that sometimes the only way to exit a room is to fully quit out of the game.

Hoyle Casino 2009 did seem to play a bit better than its card game counterpart, and while it did have a lot of the same problems and bugs, certain ones (like the inability to read cards) don't happen in Casino because there are no partner games present. However, a big plus to a game like this is the ability to go online and find games at will, but this is not the case with Hoyle Casino 2009. I would love to have tested this section more thoroughly, but the fact is that, at the time of this review, I had never seen a single player online to play against, and none of the table games allow for single player Internet play. Tournaments were also unavailable at the time of this writing.

No network play and a mediocre graphics engine really does hurt Hoyle Casino 2009, but those who are really into this sort of pick-up-and-play type of game will still likely find some enjoyment. I'm confident that the online play will get better, but be cautious.

One Final Note: The Hoyle Card Games 2009 DVD will work on both PC and Mac, but be sure to check out the system requirements because the Mac version requires an Intel processor to run. The Mac version was not tested; therefore this review only applies to the PC version.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows: XP (Home & Pro) SP3/Vista SP1; Pentium(r) IV 2.4 GHz processor or faster; 512 MB (1 GB RAM for Vista); 1024x768 16 bit color display; 64MB VRAM (Intel GMA chipsets supported); 3 GB Hard Disk Space; DVD-ROM drive; 33.6 Kbps modem or faster and internet service provider account required for internet access; Broadband internet service recommended

Macintosh: OS X 10.4.10-10.5.4; Intel Core Solo processor or better; 1.5 GHz or higher processor; 512 MB RAM; 64MB VRAM (Intel GMA chipsets supported); 3 GB hard drive space; DVD-ROM drive; 33.6 Kbps modem or faster and internet service provider account required for internet access; Broadband internet service recommended


Test System:

AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile Technology TL-52; 1.61GHz (Duel) Processors; 960MB RAM; NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150 Integrated Graphics

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