Uncharted: Fight for Fortune was always going to feel like a letdown compared to the epic adventure of Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Billed as a classic card game, the title lacks the explosive attraction of its parent franchise. But can the cheap and cheerful digital title succeed on its own merits, irrespective of the property that it's based upon?
It's certainly equipped with an extensive campaign. The Fortune Hunter mode – as it's appropriately named – consists of a selection of turn-based confrontations against various stars from the Uncharted universe. It's effectively a variation on Top Trumps, with character cards duking it out according to attack and defence attributes. Cards are moved around the screen with a swipe of the finger, while static backgrounds and familiar motifs from Greg Edmonson's famous soundtrack make up the music.
Different types of cards – fortune and resource – add genuine strategy to the proceedings, as you augment your characters with damage bonuses and shields. The effectiveness of these cards can be enhanced by collecting the treasures in the aforementioned Golden Abyss, creating a strong sense of continuity between the two games.
The gameplay loop sees you applying a character card to one of five slots, and then layering it with fortunes and resources. You can choose to bank the latter types, building up statistical bonuses which may (or may not) give you a strategic edge later in the battle. At the end of each turn, your character cards will attack those directly opposite, depleting their health points. If there's an empty slot on the other side, then you'll land a direct hit on your opponent. The aim is to whittle down your foe's energy, while protecting your own.
Winning a battle serves up one of five rewards, providing plenty of opportunity for repeat plays. Coupled with the game's deck building, secret avatars, and unlockable backgrounds, there's certainly plenty to do if card games are your forte. Sadly, it's not going to appeal to everyone, with the pacing desperately slow at times. It can feel like you're locked in never-ending battles, as you cycle through the motions, desperate to reduce your opponent's health to zero.
The multiplayer is similarly laborious. While the asynchronous mode fits the portable context well, the lack of notifications and alerts means that you'll need to constantly check the component in order to see if it's your turn. If you fail to move within a 48-hour period, you'll automatically lose. Seeing as matches can be long-winded in real-time, it's simply not a fun way to play. More enjoyable is passing your PlayStation Vita backwards and forwards with a friend.
Uncharted: Fight for Fortune is a stopgap title that's designed to bolster the PlayStation Vita's limited line-up, and it's a decent idea when taken on its own merits. Unfortunately, the slow pacing and stripped back presentation make it an acquired taste, and a somewhat strange addition to Naughty Dog's otherwise flamboyant franchise.