Uncharted: Fight For Fortune Review
If Sony wanted to turn around the PS Vita’s fortunes by creating a new, bespoke game for the handheld using the Uncharted franchise then it’s going the completely wrong way about it.
A top-down twin-stick shooter like Renegade Ops; a turn-based RPG akin to Paper Mario; a tower-defence style Horde game like Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force – all more viable alternatives than a bloody card game.
And we like card games.
But though it was announced to a unified “huh?” from the internet, it’ll probably surprise you to find out it’s actually not awful. No, seriously.
The short-burst gameplay is well suited to on-the-go gaming and as an antidote to the longer games for the PS Vita – such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, even – it’s a fine addition.
The problem is, well, it’s a bloody card game. All fifteen fans of this nichest of genres will likely buy this game the very instant it’s released – regardless of what our Uncharted: Fight For Fortune review says – and no doubt enjoy it. Everyone else won’t care, as sad as that is to say.
And as a card game it ticks all the right boxes. There’s a healthy dose of single-player content – which pits you against numerous characters throughout the series – that unlocks extra cards to use in the next battle.
Applying the ‘Roll!’ ability to a character is a genuinely weird way of implementing the Uncharted series into a card game.
Each match is designed in such a way to teach you something about the way the game can be played, too, forcing you to understand and combat any of the potential tactics.
This speaks volumes of the hidden depth to Uncharted: Fight For Fortune. One player could prefer to play the long game, setting up characters with higher health values and creating an impenetrable barrier. Another may opt for brute force, saving up their resources to kit out a powerful character with additional damage.
It’s a malleable system, and when it comes to a collectable card game that’s perhaps one of the elements you want to praise the most.
Each match is a series of cyclical rounds: Faction, Fortune and Resource. Faction is your card placement, picking a character from Hero, Villain or Mercenary and placing them in one of five positions.
This is the part you have the most control over since it’s the only phase where you can choose which cards appear, and once you’ve got to grips with the system a little more it’ll likely be where the brunt of your strategy is forged.
After that comes Fortune, where you can pick one of three hidden cards to reveal a reward, either treasure for additional resources or an artefact to boost your cards in some way.
You can view all the cards the game has available. That’s great, but it makes for finicky deck customisation.
Lastly there’s Resource, which is primarily focused on adding defence or attack to an individual card. Much like the Fortune phase, the cards that appear are randomised, however you can see – and pick from – any of the nine cards that are there.
It’s all down to the luck of the draw as to whether you get any Resource cards worth using, and though you can discard one to receive another the next turn this can often weaken your plans.
There’s even more subtlety to it than that too, focusing on the need to build Resources through Fortune cards, as well as the emphasis on Faction points for the related cards.
But we won’t elaborate too much on this for fear of overwhelming any of the (admittedly rare) potential buyers; needless to say there is enough strategic depth here to keep you coming back for more.
And though there are a number of elements in play at any one time, Uncharted: Fight For Fortune is still fairly easy to grasp – even for newcomers to the genre. Follow the hints in the early games and you should have no problem understanding the system.
So it’s a good card game, then. The hard part for Sony is to get people to care, and despite the Uncharted name, there’s little in the way of flair.
For a briefest second you can see what card your enemy is applying, but not all cards have obvious bonus effects like this.
If Sony wanted to give Uncharted: Fight For Fortune a little more mass appeal it needed to disguise the strategic card game – we’re in a totally different era of gaming and without 3D visuals, some epic audio and the odd explosion no one will look past the fact that it’s just a deck of cards attacking another deck of cards.
Even still, there’s little finesse to the game as a whole. The deck building, for example, is unnecessarily unintuitive. You’re able to select or deselect which cards can appear, but you’ll need to scroll through all the cards – even those you haven’t unlocked – and choose them one by one.
It’s pretty arduous, especially since you only need to pick four of each Faction if you want to create a specific strategy. You’ll need to repeat this each time you want to tweak your deck too, and there’s no option for saving different builds either.
It’s little things like this that let down the overall presentation of Uncharted: Fight For Fortune, such as when an enemy plays an Artefact or Resource card it is practically impossible to properly read anything beyond the name of the card.
This is fine if you know the game inside out, of course, but until you do it’ll mean tapping further into your opponent’s deck to find out what benefit that card has given them.
But these are minor barriers that can be overcome, admittedly, and the game itself is enjoyable. Anyone who likes to think while playing their games will find a lot to appreciate about Uncharted: Fight For Fortune.