Game: Uncharted: Fight for Fortune
Developer: One Loop Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation Vita only
I must admit, I went into Uncharted: Fight for Fortune expecting to hate it. I hate card games but love Naughty Dog’s globe-trotting, treasure-hunting franchise with a passion. There was no way an “action card game” based on such a thrilling and colourful series could be anything other than throwaway tosh. For the first hour, my knee-jerk reaction seemed to be spot on; I was vindicated in my unfounded hatred. But then, quite unexpectedly, I began to enjoy it, maybe even like it. A bit, at least.
To begin with, it all seems very complicated. You’re given an initial deck of 52 cards divided into three suits: Faction, Fortune and Resource, and each round you’ve the option to play three. Faction Cards are all characters from the franchise such as Nathan Drake, Sully, Elena Fisher and Chloe Fraser, and these are divided into the sub-categories of Heroes, Villains and Mercenaries. Each Faction card has an attack and defence value, as well as various special attributes or abilities like an instant attack or increased damage against a specific character or faction.
You start by laying a Faction on any of your five slots. You can then lay a Fortune card, the attached value of which will go into your bank if the Faction card survives long enough. Alternatively, you can bank them straight away for a reduced amount. The accrued Fortune points are used to buy Resource cards, which will add attack or defence, or otherwise alter a Faction card’s values.
The objective each match is to have one of your cards opposite an empty slot on your opponent’s board, so that your attacks go through their defences and “damage” the player, all the time defending yourself with the right combination of cards. It sounds very complicated on paper, and the long-winded tutorial doesn’t help much, but it’s incredibly easy to pick up as you play. There are loads of cards to collect throughout, and if you have a Golden Abyss save (which you should have seeing as PlayStation Plus members can get it for free) you’ll be gifted with a few extras.
Playing against the CPU is tricky as you reach later stages, when you’ll now and again be completely blindsided by something you just can’t defend against, but go up against other players and it not only increases the challenge but forces you to think tactically against truly unpredictable opponents.
Aesthetically, Fight for Fortune is in dire need of some animation. Cards actually hitting other cards to the sound of a stock gunshot does not do justice to the bombastic thrills of the franchise, and a lack of voiced dialogue or even the familiar licensed Uncharted theme is borderline unforgivable. The colours are all in the same golden hues, but the static screens and fairly generic card effects mean this game need not be related to Uncharted at all.
The slow pace is also counter to Uncharted’s established precedent, and just what on Earth is taking so long to load all the time? Long loading times are acceptable in a game with moving graphics, but in a card game they should really be finger-snap fast. Fight for Fortune makes you wait, repeatedly, and it becomes incredibly tedious when you just want to get on and play some cards.
There’s enough here to keep most card game fans interested, but oddly there’s little to attract fans of the Uncharted series – which is undoubtedly not what Sony were hoping for. As it is, Fight for Fortune is likely to be remembered for all the wrong reasons, if it’s remembered at all. It stands alongside the recent PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale as a very strange and almost unnecessary outing for Nathan Drake, a character who has become a poster-boy for the Japanese publisher in the West. Enough bastardising of your franchises, Sony, it’s time to get on and make some decent sequels.
VERDICT: Fight for Fortune is a decent enough card game but, played alone, it quickly becomes dull. A lack of real imagination hamstrings the fun, and you can only look at still screens for so long before you lose your mind. That said, playing with others changes the pace and raises the challenge significantly.
Despite small issues like long load times, uninspired audio and no animation, it does present a fairly compelling case. Not particularly deep or especially clever, Uncharted: Fight for Fortune is at least pretty good at what it does.