I would wager that the majority of people reading this have never played Baccarat (pronounced ‘bah-ca-rah’). Maybe a slightly smaller percentage have never even heard of it. I also bet you pronounced it wrong in your head when you read the name! Suffice to say, I’m guilty of all of the above. So how did this game fair against a complete noob like me?
Baccarat is a game invented by the Italians in the 1400s and brought to France. It came about with the invention of the first 52-card deck during the Renaissance period. How do I know this? I learned it from Baccarat PRO! You know, they probably could have renamed this game “Baccarat BECOME A PRO,” because after sitting down with this game, I feel like I’m ready to hit Vegas high-roller style!
Aside from offering an interesting history of the game, Baccarat PRO also has an in-depth rules and terminology tutorial, along with a strategy guide – and that’s not even the help menu! I was hoping I would be able to pick up this game, learn the rules, and start playing. That’s what I did!
Baccarat itself is basically a complete game of chance. Like Blackjack, it is played against the “house” (or dealer). Bets are made on whether the house or the player will win, or if there will be a tie, before the cards are even on the table. Two cards are dealt to all players and the house, then flipped over. The goal is for the cards to total to nine. Face cards and tens are worth zero, Aces are worth 1, and the rest of the cards are worth their face value. If your total is more than 9, the tens place is removed. (5+8=13, 13-10=3)
After the initial 2 cards are placed, one more card can be drawn by all players and the house based on set rules (if you have a 5 or less, you must draw, 6-9 you stand, etc). After the 3rd card is drawn, the closest to nine wins. So if you bet on the house winning, but your cards are closer to 9, you lose your money because the player (you) won the hand. Winning a bet placed on the dealer or player gets you double your money back. However, winning when betting on a tie is an 8 to 1 payout! I got really lucky on the first turn of a game and won a tie with a maxed bet. For playing an iPhone game by myself in a hotel room, I was quite pleased with myself!
You can bet on all three options if you want to guarantee you get something back, but this can drain your funds quick. There are some other subtle rules, which is where the fantastic “ask dealer” button comes into play. If you’re wondering exactly why you lost a hand, you click this button, and it is layed out quite clearly. Just another option of the game that will help sell it to new players.
The presentation of Baccarat PRO is incredibly polished. Great card and dealing animations, with appropriate sounds. The preferences allow you to change both the table color and card-back style, as well as several other game-related options. Controls are very intuitive, and are as simple as tapping the option you want to bet on, tapping your chips to choose the amount to bet, and then tapping the deal button. The game does the rest for you! There’s even a slick in-game menu for quick access while you’re playing.
As your playing, there is an ongoing record of final outcomes from hands you’ve played. You can use this to try to key into trends in the game (even though everything is just luck), and you can double-tap this for a full “Shoe History.” Finally, at any point in the game, you can “cash out,” and your winnings will be saved to the leader board. I couldn’t find a way to access this without cashing out, but maybe I’m missing something? Either way, this was a nice unexpected touch for a card game, and really rounds out the experience.
Presentation & Graphics:10
Absolutely professional from start to finish. I could see this game being released for a higher platform like the Xbox Live Arcade. Graphics are clean, animations are smooth. It’s got that “Apple look” that most games don’t accomplish.
Sound is simple and appropriate. Very few sound effects, but they work. A couple seem to be a bit on the low quality side.
SO EASY to pick up, even if you’ve never even heard of Baccarat! Touch controls are extremely simple, and the hand record and “ask dealer” feature really help in understanding and playing the game. There’s an undeniable thrill when you risk a lot on a hand and win.
Game life: 8
The fact that the game isn’t about card skill, but more on luck, could turn off some players after a while, but that’s just how the game is played. This game REALLY could have benefited from some local or wi-fi multiplayer. But still, I got back into this game several times during the review period in order to beat my last biggest cash out.
Game rating: 9
Baccarat PRO is simply what I expect from a well-developed iPhone game. Fantastic performance and graphics, an easy-to-understand tutorial, great support options in-game, multiple display options, and a leader board. Only thing missing is multiplayer, and possibly different gameplay modes (there are other forms of Baccarat). But still, this is a card game experience that will certainly impress you. (Especially for the current sale price of $.99! WTF!)