Game Review: Uncharted: Fight For Fortune (PS Vita)

Magic: The Gathering has a lot to answer for. Not counting normal playing cards, while there had been addictive and compulsive card games around long before that (and as a Top Trumps collector I can tell you that can be expensive at times), nothing really starting a trend and a global industry like Magic. Adding strategy and depth of gameplay never seen before it captured players imagination and is still going strong almost 20 years after it first burst onto the scene. Customising the deck of cards you could use making each game truly unique was part of its appeal but the sheer scope and variety of cards on offer as well as the trading card element and sense of achievement as you collect particularly scarce cards for your collection just added to the attraction.

Personally I was never particularly interested in Magic, although I was still lured into the CCG genre through the sci-fi fantasy games released. The first Star Trek: The Next Generation game, released by Decipher was my main vice and while I actively played and collected it (as well as the werewolf game Rage and sci-fi / fantasy combat game Doomtrooper) I would estimate that I spent well in excess of £1,000 on the hobby. As with any game like this, as friends drift apart or as game systems dwindle I ended up with three very expensive trading card collections and no-one left to play the games against.

Onto Uncharted: Fight For Fortune and this is a strange one for Sony. While there are countless products, films, television shows and books that have been licensed for video games over the last 30 years, there are some that have been rather questionable. We’ve seen games based on fast food restaurants with little or no connection to the licence at hand, games based on cereals, and then games that make you wonder just how the source material can be adapted into game format at all. One of the worse I have ever seen was in the 1980s when Level 9 made the decision to convert the book The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole to the Commodore 64 and other 8-bit computers. Rather than a text adventure, point and click game – or any other type of game for that matter – what players were left with was basically the novels presented on screen with graphics… little more than an e-book!

However, Laughing Jackal proved with the Fighting Fantasy games in the Minis range that unusual games can be converted into successful games with a little thought and imagination, adding new twists to simplistic formats while still giving players something to do and interact beyond what they could do in a non-digital environment. That brings me onto Sony’s offering. The last major time Sony tried this was with The Eye Of Judgement and in that case the game combined the physical cards and animated on-screen combat with the use of the Playstation Eye camera really bringing the game to life. While it wasn’t the best CCG ever released, the addition of being able to actually see the interaction between the characters made the difference between the game being a normal CCG and a console game.

In Fight For Fortune, you take on a series of characters from the Uncharted series (or human players) using a deck of cards that you can create yourself or a randomly constructed set of cards. Taking it in turns you select a character card (chosen from heroes, villains or mercenaries each with their own strengths, weaknesses and abilities that affect gameplay). These are used to attack your opponent or their characters depending on where you place them on the five character slots on the game board. You then draw a random fortune card providing you with an item of treasure. These can be cashed in to build up your resources or assigned to a character to be cashed in later for greater value.

The final step allows to you choose and then assign a Resources card to one of your characters. These add additional abilities such as enhanced attack and defensive skills to help defeat your opponent. At the end of this phase your characters will attack your opponent (or any characters standing in your way). Once your opponent runs out of health, you win. If characters stand in the way of you and your opponent, they have a limited amount of health so you need to reduce that to zero first before you can get to your enemy. And that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

There are two slight twists to the game and this is where the strategy comes in… all characters have a cost value before you can bring them into play. You start out with so many points for each type of character and receive extra at the start of each turn but you need to choose wisely for which you want to bring into play. Similarly, while some Resource cards are free others need varying amounts of resource points earned from treasure cashed in so you need to save this to get the more powerful cards. You can also earn more from certain characters abilities or defeating your opponents characters and stealing their treasure.

There are several AI opponents you can take on from the games increasing in difficultly although they all seem to adopt the same general playing style and once you defeat them you can choose one of five randomly unlockable cards, background or other bonuses for use in the game.

There are hundreds of cards available to play to start off with from the Uncharted games, with more available as DLC from Uncharted 2 and 3, and additional cards are also unlocked depending on your performance in Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Visually, the cards look superb with great artwork from the games and are lavishly illustrated but apart from the art on the cards, and the portrait pictures of your opponents, there is little else to look at.

The big problem is that there is no difference playing this game on the PS Vita than if it was a traditional CCG other than the fact that here it is cheaper than it would be purchasing it as hundreds of packs of cards. At the very least, some form of on-screen combat would have broken up the bland look of the game, seeing characters shooting at each other, hiding behind cover, finding treasure… anything really to make the game look more appealing. Even the addition of mini games of some form – no matter what it is – would have lifted this above being “just another CCG”. I won’t deny that it’s still a fun game in short bursts but as for being something that is worth paying for… that I’m not too sure about.

Really this game is only for Uncharted completists and someone who is looking for a new CCG to play although I can’t see this offering the same depth as Magic or any of the other games out there either so without strong online play, organised tournaments, plenty of DLC and updates revising the gameplay with new features I don’t see Uncharted: Fight For Fortune having a lasting future.

Simon Plumbe

At A Glance

  • Title: Uncharted: Fight For Fortune
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: Yes
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 300Mb

 

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