UNO

Uno for Sony PlayStation 4 is an adaptation of the well-known card game of the same name. Featuring all of Uno’s standard rules and an online mode, this should have been an easy sell for anyone who wanted a digital version of the game. Unfortunately, limited modes and lackluster online capabilities prevent this from being more than a serviceable version that fails to impress.

The rules of Uno should be familiar to anyone who’s ever played the real game. The goal is to whittle down your hand of cards to zero. You achieve this by playing cards that match the number and/or color of the card currently in the middle. There are four colors (red, green, blue, yellow) and ten numbers (0-9). For example, if the person right before you played a “Red 5”, you could play any red card or any card that has a “5” on it in your hand. If you don’t have any matching cards, you merely draw a card while the next person takes their turn.

The game features all of the cards in a standard Uno deck, including “Reverse,” which shifts the direction of player order, “Skip,” which forces the next person to skip their turn, and “Draw” cards, making the next player draw either two or four more cards. You can even play a “Wild” card regardless of which color is currently in the center, and then choose the next active card color as a bonus. An additional rule is that you must say “Uno” when you have one card remaining. If you don’t and someone calls you out, then you must draw two additional cards.

There are additional house rules that can be turned on and off between games to make rounds more unique. The special rules range from being able to stack “Draw Two” and “Wild Draw Four” cards to having to draw cards until you have a playable card. One of the best optional rules is that playing a “7” card allows you to switch your hand with someone else and playing a “0” card asks everyone to transfer their cards to the player next to them. More rules like this would have been appreciated to spice things up. You can also alter how long it takes to play a game. The default is set to whomever can score 500 points first. However, earning points takes a long time since the amount is based on your opponents’ remaining card values. Luckily, you can set the score limit to one round to prevent games from taking too long.

Uno also comes with an additional themed deck based on Rabbids, the rabbit-like creatures from Ubisoft’s Rayman series. There are four additional cards in this special deck that can change the flow of play, such as giving each player a three-second time limit to make a move, randomly distributing cards to all players, forcing the next player to draw one to three additional cards, and giving a player a chance to defend against a “Draw Two” or “Draw Four” card. Rabbids pop up, dancing around players’ hands and placing dynamite on the deck to illustrate these special rules, as well as being pictured on every card. Although it’s not much, it’s nice to have a mode that feels like it could have only been included in a digital game. Additional downloadable decks have been promised, but the Rabbids deck is the only one to come packaged with the game.

While a game of Uno can be occasionally fun, it also gets old quickly. Every game is dependent on luck and just a little skill and memory. You could easily go from one card to seven in the unluckiest situations.  When playing with friends in real life, these tend to be moments of surprise and laughter. However, in the PS4 version where you can only play against either the computer or online strangers, you will likely just be frustrated. The main issue with single-player is how dull it gets playing this color-matching card game with lifeless robots. There is a cooperative mode where you can see each other’s cards, oddly enough. However, that is the extent of its two-player compatibility.

The real meat of this game is online play. While it’s great that this game has online multiplayer at all, it quickly turns to disappointment once you realize that there is no voice chat or messaging functionality. Even the Microsoft Xbox 360 version had camera and voice chat, which meant that playing with random strangers could be fun thanks to the wackiness of seeing each other on video. There are certainly cons to that system too, but having no chat whatsoever makes playing online just about as much fun as playing with robots. Uno is simple enough that both real-life players and computer players would theoretically perform the same actions while playing. Without the social element of laughter and trash-talk, it is inevitably a boring experience.

Muddling things even more, players can actually jump in and out of games, with AI-controlled characters being replaced by real people and vice versa. You could have a human suddenly pop into a computer character who just called “Uno” and they may win the game without even putting in effort. Conversely, you may be on the verge of winning but see the other human players drop, leaving computers. There is no stability whatsoever in your competition. The online itself is thankfully functional with relatively few server hiccups. However, it should be said that Ubisoft has locked players out from online mode unless they opt in to their Ubisoft Club rewards program, which is admittedly sleazy.

The graphics are clean and simple. If you wanted a version of Uno that eliminated the need to hold actual cards, then the user interface actually does a great job of promoting that. A rotating arrow always shows you what direction play is going, you can easily see your cards, and numbers display how many cards your opponents have. In two-player cooperative play, the second player’s hand is always in the very back, making it hard to read. Otherwise, actions are appropriately displayed and well-telegraphed. The background music consists mainly of easy listening jazz and some goofier tunes while playing with the Rabbids deck. The music even dynamically adds instruments when someone calls “Uno,” so it serves its purpose well.

The PS4 version of Uno is an average offering that doesn’t take advantage of the fact that it’s a digital game. It provides a serviceable version of the popular card game, but not much more. Online play works fine, but without voice chat, it loses the social element that makes Uno fun in real life. Special rules and the themed Rabbids deck spice things up but do very little to improve the quality of the tedious card game. Only players who would love to constantly play Uno with online strangers might get excited by this. Everyone else should play their cards right and stick with the physical card game.

I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!