|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Microsoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 26, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Microsoft's Days of Arcade have brought us a number of great downloadable titles, not least of which is UNO RUSH, the sequel to one of the most-played titles on Xbox LIVE. UNO RUSH provides players with a fast-paced alternative to the laidback experience found in Uno. Instead of relying on a lot of luck and patience, UNO RUSH forces players to make quick decisions in order to implement strategy. Consequently, UNO RUSH is an addictive gaming experience with loads of play value. Of course, if you played Uno simply to virtually hit on Xbot-ladies, UNO RUSH doesn't offer quite the same single's bar atmosphere. Thankfully, the game is so good you won't miss it at all, you dog!
UNO RUSH is a new take on the classic card gameplay of Uno. Naturally, playing like-colored cards and numbers still figures into the mechanic, but instead of hiding your hand, playing cards one at a time, hoping the cards stay in your favor, or bluffing your way to victory, UNO RUSH uses a unique, exposed-hand combo system that lets you control your own destiny. That's right; all players will have all the cards in their hand turned up so everyone can see what they have. This allows neighboring players to develop counterstrategies. If players were forced to play only one card per turn, no one would ever win. But, in UNO RUSH, players will organize their cards in such a way that they can discard multiple cards in one long run. This is done by shuffling your hand, organizing like-colors, and making sure disparate colors are linked by like-numbers. As such, it is possible to get rid of all the cards in your hand in one fell swoop.
Sounds simple, right? In theory it is, but you will have to do all this rearranging in just a few moments, as each player is only given around two seconds on their turn. Moreover, players are constantly switching up the cards, thwarting your best-laid plans. To make matters worse, draw two, draw four, wild, reverse, skip turn, and a brand-new shuffle card will constantly frustrate you. Finally, calling out UNO! (via the X button) and challenging opponents too slow to react (by pressing Y) becomes an even more crucial part of the game. I can't tell you how many good-natured expletives get volleyed back and forth between friends. This all leads to split-second decision-making, lighting quick movements, and solid competition. It is a combination of factors that leads to a lot of intriguing gameplay. It's well-worth the 800 MS points ($10 USD) it costs to download the title.
In addition to standard play, you can also pair up in Partner mode or try to survive the longest in Elimination. Partner mode is great fun, as you and a friend will use team strategies to foil your opponents' plans, rather than simply playing all against all. In Elimination, you can win by discarding all your cards the fastest, however, the victor is usually the one that hangs around the longest. Every time a player can't discard, they are given a strike; accumulate three strikes and you're out! These modes are nice additions to the package. Unlike many other arcade titles out there, players will likely play these alternate modes frequently. Still, the standard mode of play will always rule the day, as it is the one that best breeds competition, boiling the blood in an instant.
As fun and as solid as gameplay is, there are a few problems with the game. For starters, the controls don't seem to work efficiently considering the time constraints placed on players. Selecting individual cards with A, and then moving them down the line with the analog stick, especially deep into a round, can get very cumbersome. I would have liked to have seen instant, move-to-the-front and move-to-the-back buttons mapped to L3 and R3. Also, organizing large stacks of cards can be overly daunting. This is due to the fact it is often difficult to distinguish which card your cursor has selected. Some kind of highlighting or elevated demarcation needed to be introduced.