|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sierra Online Shanghai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sierra Online||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 24, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
As good as the online component is, the single-player mode doesn't live up to expectations. Why? Because playing against the CPU is dull, and there is no adventure to spur you on, to foment excitement or to provide a sense of accomplishment. Unlike other puzzlers on XBLA, Lost Cities doesn't take you on a colorful journey through perilous jungles and desolate wastes. The fact that the name and subject matter of the game play upon the adventure theme that it never actually delivers is a real setback. Consequently, the single-player mode is nothing more than an enhanced solitaire. It's nice that the XBLA version does all the point tallying for you, but it can't hide your cards from others in the same room. That means you'll be relegated to playing the computer or waiting for someone to get online and challenge you. In that regard, you'd be far better off going to your nearest hobby store and picking up a pack of Lost Cities cards. At least then you could play against friends at home.
I was disappointed with the quality of the graphics and wanted more from the sounds. First of all, the menu screens and board look nice, but the cards completely lack detail. This is another reason why the game lacks any kind of adventure punch. Other electronic card games, like Culdcept Saga, place a premium on the artwork of the cards as it helps to trigger the imagination. In Lost Cities you will be forced to look at muddled pictures that are only distinguishable by their colors and numbers. Greater emphasis should have been placed upon the card art. Second, and on a brighter note, the musical theme is really nice and soothing. It is the kind of tune you can keep on in the background during the entire gaming experience and not get sick of it. That being said, there is only one tune to listen to, and after several sessions it can get bothersome. Third, and best of all, the controls are so simple and intuitive that they're going to get a perfect score. Players only have to deal with three buttons and the analog stick, which makes the game accessible to everyone.
In conclusion, this is a quality card game that packs a lot of strategic fun for players aged ten and older. The simple controls make it accessible, and the varied play via Xbox LIVE is very satisfying. Additionally, a few of the more difficult Achievement Points are truly challenging. Much to my chagrin, the visuals are not nearly good enough and the lack of a single-player adventure component / storyline makes playing against the CPU uninteresting after just a short while. I liked this game a lot, but it's certainly not for everyone. If you enjoy card games such as solitaire, hearts, gin, and even Magic the Gathering, there is good chance you'll enjoy Lost Cities. If you're looking for a beautiful adventure puzzler / card game like Culdcept Saga or Puzzle Quest, then keep looking!
CCC Lead Contributor / News Director