Reel Deal: Gold Rush

 Rating Preview
 Fun Factor

 8.5 
 Graphics

8.0
 Sound

7.5
 Multiplayer

8.5
 Single Player

8.5
 Controls

8.5

Gold Rush is the next installment in the Reel Deal series of casino games. Rather than replacing the last two years’ installments, it adds a completely new floor to the online casino and fits together with all of the other games from the past two years. This includes prior casino games as well as the slots-only games that are also released annually (including Reel Deal Slots Ghost Town, this year’s edition). From one convenient menu, you can reach any table game, poker game, or slot of any of the Reel Deal games you own. Both the hard copy games and the download slots are high in quality compared to the competing casino software out there. This game sets the bar in the gambling game genre.

You may play this game either offline or in a “massive multiplayer online” experience that includes play with other live players, experience points, and leveling up to earn new rewards. There are frequent updates. The first month of online play is a free trial; however, after the first month it costs $9.99, for the full experience. It is a good value, especially considering it also includes a brand new slot download each month for free that would cost $5.99 if downloaded separately. The slots you receive during your subscription are yours to keep forever, even if you cancel your subscription. How many other subscription games give you content to keep and use offline?

Screenshot
Even After A Bad Beat, This Game Will Have You Feeling Good

I have been subscribing to the Reel Deal online casino for two years, eclipsing the amount of time I’ve ever paid for an MMO subscription before. The frequent updates and new download content every single month keep the game fresh. But if subscriptions are just not for you, there is also online multiplayer “free” mode with Gold Rush, with limited access that includes live play with other players on table games.

There are so many individual tables and machines that you always have a dizzying array of choices. The slot machines include three reelers, as well as a lot of themed video slots with elaborate bonus rounds that play out as different minigames. Each one is unique and the artistic quality is high. There are some slots on Gold Rush, but if you want more add Ghost Town, the slot-exclusive game. As for the table games, I am disappointed that my favorite table game is not available (Caribbean Stud), however, I can forgive that omission when there are so many great others, including the old standbys like Black Jack and Roulette and rare games like Sic Bo and Faro. There are 36 casino games on Gold Rush. But my favorite feature is the Sports Book, where you can bet on real NFL, MLB, and NHL games (with your in-game money), and results are the actual results of the real games. As a rabid Patriots fan the opportunity to bet on my team each week adds excitement to the football game. There is also a Race Book with horse and greyhound racing, and in game races you can bet on. This version is far superior to some other casino games that show plastic models of horses circling around a plastic track. There’s a video feed on a monitor, a photo finish monitor, and a track with realistic-looking horses or hounds.

As you play on the online MMO game you earn experience points and level up, and with leveling, comes rewards. These perks include becoming a “whale” and being comped by a casino host to your own private suite (which you can decorate with furniture and casino games you can buy at the in-game mall), raises in table limits, and access to new areas and new stores. It’s exciting to earn new stuff, and it keeps the game fresh, but it can get tedious leveling and grinding if you have a level goal in mind to earn something specific. The game is a lot more fun if you aren’t worried about your level. Unfortunately the rewards can be tantalizing making that difficult sometimes…

This game feels more realistic to a real brick and mortar casino than other games, because of the stakes. On most casino games, if you lose your money, the game just gives you more and you start over. There’s no risk. Any gambler knows the thrill is in the risk and reward. On this game, if you run out of money, starting over would mean losing your experience points and levels gained. The alternative is a loan from the casino during which your exp earned is reduced. Because of the risk involved, you are more likely to consider your bet amounts and experience more of the highs and lows that are so thrilling in a real casino. And by the way, odds on this game are consistent with real casino odds. There is one exception, which is a “dream world cash” option on slots only where the player has a lot of advantage over the house. Real world odds are also available on all slots.

The sound effects on the game are good, and make you really feel like you’re in a real casino environment. Sound effects on slot machines are especially well done. The music isn’t even elevator-worthy, but thankfully the option to turn it off is available. There’s an mp3 player function where you can add your own music files into the actual game, but it’s more complicated than it’s worth.

Tournaments are available on the online game for almost everything – poker, table games, and slots. You can win in-game prizes in these tournaments.

There is a chat window in the lobby, a lounge exclusively for chat, and each game has its own chat. I prefer to turn on “stats” instead of chat on table games and slots so I can see how the machine or table is paying out, how much I’ve spent, how long I’ve been on the machine, etc. Some of the chat can be insipid chatter and annoying, but it’s easy to ignore the chat window at those times. When your friends are on, chat is a welcome feature.

Sportsbook
Fake Sports Betting Has Never Felt So Real

The staff at Phantom Efx spoils their customers. Instead of most games, where a customer will never have any contact with the company, the Phantom team regularly visits the forum to give updates, answer questions, and extend good will to their customers. They even appear on the chat window in the game on occasion socializing with the players. Once when I reported a glitch the owner of the company initiated a private chat with me to discuss the problem. It’s clear that the Phantom team cares about their customers.

There are some issues that mar the experience. The interface is somewhat unpolished and navigation is not ideal, especially when you are using several of the games. There are also some bugs, and while most of them are fixed promptly others can take months for them to resolve. The biggest problem is the flawed in-game economy. There is a huge discrepancy between the richest players, who have billions of dollars, and the poorest players, who have, well dollars… This has caused huge inflation at the mall and a lot of the goods available are outrageously expensive and will be impossible to ever own for the majority of players. Phantom Efx promises to resolve this problem when the next installment comes out, but for now it’s something we have to tolerate.

Not only do I recommend this game to anyone interested in casino gambling, I recommend the other games that represent the other floors of the online casino as well. These include Ghost Town, High Roller, Mystic Forest, Vegas Experience, and Bonus Mania. Each game costs a measly $19.99, and for a game with unlimited replay value and frequent new content that is truly amazing. This is just the game every gambling aficionado needs in between trips to Vegas.

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