Though there have been a glut of poker video games since the popularity of Texas hold 'em spiked a few years ago, casino video games are nothing new, and Payout, the new casino game from Namco Bandai, mostly treads on familiar ground. It plays a decent game of poker, and it offers some mildly exotic games like baccarat and red dog, but its promise of delivering an authentic real-world casino experience is left largely unfulfilled, and most players simply won't care about most of the games of chance that are on offer.
Payout invents a reason for you to play the slots with imaginary money.
One of the hurdles of turning games of pure chance into video games is fabricating some incentive to play. Playing games that require a modicum of skill, like poker and blackjack, can be satisfying enough, but in the real world, you play slot machines, craps, roulette, or the wheel of fortune because there's real money on the line. Payout comes up with a pretty clever way to entice you to play the pure chance games with its "star system." You start off creating your own gambler, though the options here are a little thin, and regardless of whether you choose a male or female gambler, the characters look kind of pasty and stiff. From here, you walk into an Egyptian-themed casino with a bankroll and no other pressing engagements. This casino has all of the games you'll ever see in Payout. There are three-row and five-row slot machines, video poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps, red dog, the wheel of fortune, and a poker room.
The poker room offers several different variations beyond the popular Texas hold 'em, including Omaha, Tahoe, super hold 'em, pineapple, and crazy pineapple. You can choose between a sit-and-go and an open table, and you also get to decide the buy-in, the betting limit, the starting blinds, your position at the table, the frequency of blind raises, the number of bets allowed per round of betting, and the number of opponents you'll play against. If you're unfamiliar with any of the games, there are a few paragraphs of text you can read to get the gist, though more thorough tutorials on the finer points of the more obscure casino games would have been appreciated. As you play, you'll find that the poker players at the Egyptian-themed casino are total pushovers and that there's also a relatively low bet limit in place.