UNO, the classic card game, lands on Xbox One a surprisingly long time after the console’s launch. To us, with Kinect-in-the-box (aah, remember those days?) we couldn’t think of a better title to show off the Kinect 2.0’s HD camera. After all, UNO on the Xbox 360 launched at the same time as the Xbox Live Vision camera (I had one) and the delights of seeing other players as you stomped their scores was delicious.
Okay, sometimes it was delicious. At other times, you needed to wash your eyes out with bleach. Let’s just say that with alarming frequency the Xbox Live Vision camera wasn’t pointed at your opponent’s face…
And it was that kind of experience that has perhaps led to a vastly stunted social element in this latest version of the card game on console. More on that later. Let’s get back to the game.
UNO is UNO. A fun, simple card game. To win, play all your cards and score points based on the value of the cards left in your opponents’ hands. Here you can play against AI opponents or real people online, or play co-operatively with a local buddy. There’s no party mode, though, so that perhaps limits the game’s appeal as a local social title.
It’s pretty to look at though, with lots of visual prompts and cues, and a soundtrack that bounces away inanely in the background. And that’s it. If you want to play a fun, fast-paced card game on your console with friends and strangers, then this ticks those boxes. It’s not perfect even within its narrow ambitions; there are some mechanical issues when playing online. For once, it’s not the netcode that lets you down – finding and jumping into matches was super smooth. But exactly what you were jumping into isn’t always clear. UNO offers a dozen or so customisable rules which change the game in subtle ways – but if you jump into someone else’s match there’s no easy way to say which rules are in force and which aren’t, and it can take a round or two to work it out.
“Why don’t you just ask?” I hear you say. Good question. You can’t. Card games are a social experience. Or at least they should be. But here, UNO falls down. Social interaction is strictly limited to those on your friends list. You can voice and video chat with your buddies ’til the cows come home, and it’s a laugh doing so. But play with strangers and play’s all you can do. No voice chat, no video, unless you invite them on to your friends list first. AND WHO DOES THAT? Nobody, that’s who. Nobody will just invite strangers onto their list. I mean, it could be anyone. It could be Piers Morgan. Or worse.
And whilst no video or voice chat with strangers is the safer option – clearly given the ease with which the Kinect can be pointed at random anatomy and bathing-suit areas – it’s the far less entertaining one. And in sanitising the game, Ubisoft have removed its charm. With a 3+ ESRB rating, the “online experience may vary” line clearly isn’t going to cut it when faced with ugly naked strangers and recreational drug use. So, we get it. We’re not criticising its removal – just that what’s left behind is less interesting as a result. The inclusion of leader boards and challenging, if predictable, AI doesn’t exactly make the pulse race. Removing the ability to video chat with strangers was clearly the right thing to do. But UNO without it is like eating tofu.
Consequently, unless you’re a fan and want to play with other UNO fans you already know, UNO for Xbox One is unlikely to make it onto your must buy list. And if you’re looking for something to do when you have friends round, this isn’t it either. So… maybe just break out a deck of cards?
UNO is available now from the Xbox Store priced £7.99.
A fun and fast-paced card game is let down by limited online social interactivity.
A slickly presented representation of the fast paced and popular card game, UNO doesn’t do anything wrong. But it’s just so… unmemorable. Removing the one feature that made the Xbox 360 version so interesting – albeit for the wrong reasons – leaves a great card game, but just an average video game experience.
It’s sure to appeal to fans of UNO, but with no local party game modes there’s little here to tempt those only casually interested.