UNO (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 06.09.2016 2

Review for UNO on PlayStation 4

It's hard to believe that popular card game Uno has existed in some form or other since the early 1970s, but it actually originated as a spin-off of Crazy Eights, a game played with a regular deck of playing cards that first came to prominence in the 1930s. It was only when American toy manufacturer Mattel properly licensed Uno in 1992 that gave it the type of mainstream success that, many years down the line, would guarantee numerous video game editions. Speaking of which, it's a franchise that has been notably conspicuous by its absence on the current generation of consoles, so it's a good job that Ubisoft has finally addressed this by releasing new versions for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

While the rules of Uno are simple enough that they can be picked up and understood within a couple of minutes it has a surprising depth that rewards good tactical play. The basics: seven cards are dealt out to each participant from the main stack, each of which comprise of four colours (red, blue, green and yellow) numbered from zero to nine. The top card from the discard pile gets turned over and kicks off proceedings for the first up to play a card to if possible or, failing that, take another one from the deck.

As an example, if a red six card was active, any red card or any other coloured card with the number six could be played on top of it. Simple enough, right? The tactical element comes in knowing when to play one of the Action cards (also attributed to each colour suite) that get dealt into the hand or picked up during play, as it's these that can be used to nobble opponents when it looks like they're close to victory, or even when they're nowhere near it ... just to be spiteful.

Playing a 'Ø' forces the subsequent person to miss a turn, which can be bad enough in itself, but for the more vindictive types there's also a card that forces the next in line to draw two more from the pile… and miss a turn. The direction of the play flow gets frequently changed during a match, courtesy of another Action card which can be particularly sweet for dealing retribution on the person that's been dumping lots of unwanted extras into your hand.

Screenshot for UNO on PlayStation 4

As if that wasn't enough there are also a pair of wildcards that can be played at any time though it's a good idea to hold onto these for emergency purposes, if possible, especially the colour change card. This is particularly useful when lumbered with a high number of a certain colour suite that has yet to make an appearance in the discard pile. The second wildcard forces the next in line to draw four from the pile (and miss a turn of course) but it can be challenged by the victim if they believe the perpetrator had any other card that they could have legitimately played instead. A successful challenge results in the person that played it being forced to pick up six cards but conversely, an unsuccessful challenge gets penalised by having to pick up six themselves (Ouch!).

For those wondering about the relevance of the name it's because the titular phrase 'Uno' is used as a declaration whenever somebody is about to get down to their final card. Obviously just shouting this out won't work, so that's replaced by a button press which needs to be done prior to playing the penultimate card in hand. Forgetting about this rule, which is very easily done in the heat of the moment, opens up a brief window where the competition can challenge the forgetful individual. If caught quickly enough it postpones victory for at least a couple of turns, by forcing them to pick up another two cards from the pile.

Screenshot for UNO on PlayStation 4

Whoever manages to get rid of all their cards first wins the round, earning a score tallied up from all the remaining cards in the three losing hands. A full match ends once one of the participants hits the target score, which can be changed if a shorter match is desirable but generally tends to be 500. As expected offline play against AI is enabled as well as online options for four player custom games and even 2 vs 2 matches for those that enjoy co-op (which can also be played locally against AI), giving plenty of options for fans of the original card game that struggle to find regular competition.

The online component feels fairly robust and operates on a 'drop-in, drop-out' basis meaning that any vacant slots filled by AI opponents can be replaced by human players at any given point during a match, and the fact that there already seems to be a sizable online population bodes well for the longevity of the title. Regular play contributes to an XP levelling-up system with numerous medals for profile card display purposes, proving to be incentive enough to keep chipping away at a long series of objectives. Hosting a match enables House Rules options that allow for any number of ways to tweak the gameplay.

Notable additions such as a stacking rule that enables anybody about to fall foul of a 'draw x amount from the deck' to pass an increased penalty on to the next player, providing they have a similar card to counter it. Action cards to swap/steal a nominated competitors hand and even rotate all the hands one space in the direction of play creates a party vibe that can prove to be most fun when everybody is battling to swipe the same hand. The presence of themed decks indicates where Ubisoft is likely heading with the DLC, but in fairness, the included Rabbids pack adds enough unique new features and themed power ups to the vanilla package to justify checking out new additions when they eventually arrive.

Screenshot for UNO on PlayStation 4

Uno is first and foremost a social game, therefore, it feels like an odd move on Ubisoft's part to completely hobble all channels of communication by limiting the Playstation camera and voice chat to friends only. The Xbox 360 version came bundled with the consoles Vision camera accessory, and, as a result, hopping into a match on Xbox Live could be likened to taking a stroll through the online equivalent of the Wild West. It was similar to Chat Roulette in that both opened up a window directly into somebody else's often bizarre world and many, many strange sights were seen as well as a few that, unfortunately, can never be unseen.

To be fair the Playstation community probably played their hand too soon as unintentionally-anarchic launch title, The Playroom, provided exhibitionist couples, bong smoking teens, and middle-aged men sat in their underpants covered in Dorito dust, the perfect platform to broadcast to a worldwide audience. In this respect the 'friends only' camera policy is unfortunate, but totally justifiable. Cutting off voice chat when mute functionality exists seems a bit self defeating though, especially when it's allowed in the Call of Duty series, which, arguably, has the largest population of squeaky voiced irritants in any gaming community. As a result, there is little to distinguish a match between AI bots and human opponents, unless of course a number of close friends can be convinced into making a purchase too. The silence is deafening.

Screenshot for UNO on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

With Uno, Ubisoft has taken an old classic and tweaked the formula just enough to make it feel fresh without losing the familiar, addictive gameplay that it's renowned for. It's just a shame that the social aspects that made previous iterations an entertaining, unpredictable place to hang out, have been completely neutered, leaving behind an online component that feels comparatively sterile.

Developer

Ubisoft

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

Table Games

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I think that you yourself explained pretty well why the social aspects were limited to "friends only" I'm afraid... :/ Cam should never ever be available for random people in online games like ever, but voice chat was sort of uncalled for. Personally I always play with mute on because I bloody hate voice chat but there is no reason to not have the option open for people who desires it. I am at least happy it is viable with friends who are the only ones those features feel viable with to me personally.

I guess it sucks for a game like Uno though which heavily relies on the social aspects. :/ Oh well, might pick it up as I am a big fan of card and board games and takes every option available to play them, even digitally. Smilie

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Yep, gamers with video cams just aren't to be trusted so it's completely justifiable not allowing them on Uno as it would no doubt need policing full time. Shame really as the odd time you'd stumble across some guy wearing a Batman outfit or a luchador mask in the Xbox version it actually caused much amusement and aided the party vibe they were no doubt going for. The fact that people were making that much effort just to play a video game was impressive enough in my book.
 
I'm usually the first to hit the 'mute all' button whenever I enter a multiplayer lobby but Uno always seemed a bit friendlier than other games as it tended to be random conversations with bored housewives rather than kids screaming abuse at you. As Uno goes though it's a great version, just feels a bit soulless compared to its chattier predecessor Smilie   
 

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