recspec's Uncharted: Fight For Fortune (PlayStation Network (Vita)) review

An interesting combination of card battles and managing resources

When the latest Uncharted game was revealed to be a card game, some people were mad. Others were disappointed, while everyone else was just confused. There is nothing about Uncharted: Fight for Fortune that will rival any of the moments in the main series, and it doesn't need to. One Loop Games and Bend Studio take advantage of making a card game for the Vita, combining cards with resource management to create a game that is focuses on strategy during the game instead of building the best deck to win. 

There is a great tutorial that explains the rules, but I’ll try to explain the basic gameplay. You have three sets of cards you use. There are characters that attack and defend, resources that boost your characters or have other effects (healing, directly damaging your opponent), and fortunes that fund the previously mentioned resources. Each turn you will play a character, place a fortune, use a resource, then attack or defend. The goal of each game is to attack the player directly and take their life down to zero. It’s simple, but easy to follow. 
     The touchscreen controls work well, and rarely get in the way. 
  
Like checkers, the rules are basic, but there are plenty of depth in the strategies you can make. It sometimes feels like a turn-based strategy game because you are trying to manage faction points (used to play characters) and your fortune (used to play cards that can upgrade your attack). You get faction points every turn, but fortune is tied to cards attached to characters. You can cash in a fortune card (worth 5) or attach it to one of your characters (ranging from 10-50) if they gets a kill, you earn the fortune attached to them.  If your opponent kills your character, they get that fortune instead. The “board” is your row of five against their row of five, and characters can only attack what’s in front of them. Placement is important, and if you place two related characters next to each other, they get a combo bonus that can be increased attack, defense, or more fortune. If you miss anything, a game log tracks every move. By the time you finish the tutorial, you should have a good grasp on most of the gameplay.  

 All of your favorite Uncharted characters! Like this bird I don't remember.
The main single player mode is called Fortune Hunter. You will fight characters from Drake’s Fortune (first PS3 game) and Golden Abyss (Vita). After the tutorial, there are 16 matches. After each match, you can play the character again to get more cards and extras like card backs and player avatars. The single player mode is interesting because your cards are set, you have to beat them with what they give you. A lot of matches have different victory conditions, from hoarding your fortune to killing a specific character card. It requires you to learn different strategies to advance, which keeps the game from becoming too stale. This is great because the AI is nothing special. The story mode boils down to you using your cards to solve the puzzle they throw at you rather than outsmarting the computer. 
 
The deck system in the game is handled differently than other card games. Your fortune and resource decks consist of every card you have unlocked. There’s no way to take out cards you don’t like. You can unlock stronger cards through games, but the deck is so big, you’re only going to come across them once in a blue moon. This may turn off people, but I’m glad that I didn't have to mess with cards between games based on opponents. It puts more of a focus on knowing how to adapt mid game instead of trying to draw a certain card. 
 
 All effects a card has are explained in detail.
You can adjust the characters you have. Once the game starts you have four of each faction (hero, villain, mercenary) and those don’t change throughout the match. If a character dies, they go back to the pool and can be played the next turn assuming you can pay the cost. You can have as many cards as you want in each faction as long as you have at least six. Six per faction means that there is always some randomness to which characters you will get. This prevents you from relying on certain cards and combinations. The way the cards are set up means more balanced games. Since everyone has the same cards unlocked at the start (about 90 percent), your skill is more important than the cards you have.
 
When playing against strangers it's better to play multiple games at once instead of waiting for someone to move.
On the multiplayer front there is pass-and-play, online ranked, and custom ranked. Online play lets you play up to eight games at once. Once you get the game started and it’s your turn, you’ll see what your opponent did, then you get to make your move. After this, the game will send it to your opponent, and you’ll have to wait for them to move. This way you don’t have to worry about connection errors and people quitting. You have two days to move before you forfeit the game, which I feel is much too long, potentially if someone is losing they can just idle for two days. While the system is bad for playing specific people, it is fun having a bunch of games going at once. You can keep playing the single player while you wait for your opponents to move. I would love a quick play option to play a full game against someone right away. But the multiplayer is casual-focused, pushing you to play many games at once over a long period of time. The customization for non-ranked matches is pretty weak. You can adjust the starting values for health, fortune, and factions, but you are stuck playing the default type. It would have been nice to be able to play the horde or VIP modes available in the single player.
 "Touch My Rear!" can only be unlocked if you have the trophy from Uncharted: Golden Abyss 
 
A strange tie-in is the ability to unlock and power up your cards using your Golden Abyss save data. Trophies and treasures collected in Golden abyss will show up as their own cards or boost the power of other cards. Some of the cards get pretty overpowered based on your progress in Golden Abyss.  It's not much of a balance issue due to the way the game is set up. There are also two DLC packs available right now that have characters and cards from the other two PS3 Uncharted games. Together both cost more than the game itself ($3 apiece). Each has single player matches and new cards. The Among Thieves pack has 21 new cards and the Drake's Deception pack has 19 cards. Compared to the 400 cards you get at the start, and the 100 cards you can unlock from the base pack. It’s not a good deal unless you are looking for more single player battles. There are no DLC or boosted cards toggle, but it’s not game-breaking. A lot of the unlockable cards are doubles of other cards available to you.

If you like card games, Uncharted: Fight for Fortune is a decent card game that relies more on strategy than collecting and deck building. If you’re an Uncharted fan and you care about characters, you’ll enjoy going through and fighting each of the characters and unlocking their cards.  I’d even argue that if you’re interested in turn-based strategy games and you have a Vita it’s worth checking out. If you have a Vita and you need a quick cheap game,  Fight for Fortune is a fun way to spend the time. 
2 Comments
Edited by EverydayOdyssey

I have just about finished playing Golden Abyss and have unlocked and powered up so many cards I am now interested in playing FIght for Fortune. I was never a Magic player, but I did enjoy Metal Gear Acid 2. It's been about four months since your review - are you still playing the game? Is there a community? Do you still recommend the game?

Edited by EverydayOdyssey

I have just about finished playing Golden Abyss and have unlocked and powered up so many cards I am now interested in playing FIght for Fortune. I was never a Magic player, but I did enjoy Metal Gear Acid 2. It's been about four months since your review - are you still playing the game? Is there a community? Do you still recommend the game?

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