Lost Cities. Hear that and you’d think something along the lines of an Indiana Jones-esque platformer. Well, that’s what I thought anyway. Exploring mythic caverns, finding cities that have been lost in time and taking magical artefacts. However, this isn’t true in the slightest. Lost Cities is in fact a card game that has been available to buy in shops for quite a while and has made a jump, UNO style, to the Xbox LIVE Arcade. However, unlike UNO this is neither addictive nor very fun. In fact, it is extremely confusing to start with.
Running through the tutorial didn’t really help me. It was only after learning from my mistakes and my many losses that I realised what it was I had to do. The aim of the game is to play through 3 rounds and score the most points at the end of the session. Each player has a hand of cards which contain different colours – yellow, blue, white, green and red. These colours represent “lost cities” and each colour has 9 number cards, from 2 to 10, and 3 “investment” cards. When a card is placed on the corresponding place on the bored, 20 points are taken away to start the expedition. The investment cards can be added before you start, each giving a multiplier of x2, then x3, and if you put the last investment card down – x4. However, each time you place an investment card, it knocks 20 points off. To get back into the positives, you need to use the number cards and place them in numerical order to earn points. However, they don’t have to be exactly in order. For example, you can place a 2, then a 5 but after that you cannot place anything between 2 and 5, you must continue up to 6 and beyond. You can discard any card you don’t need, but be warned; your opponent can pick it up.
The single player in Lost Cities is a bit bland. There is no story or tournament modes, just a match lasting up to around 10 minutes each time you press Single Player in the main menu. Once you win a match, all you get is a “You Won!” and, if you’re lucky, a piece of artwork. The “Lost Cities” aspect really does nothing for the game as it is never actually properly implemented. The graphics are simple 2D animations and the music is rather average. Online play is basically single player, but with an actual human opponent. This makes it a little bit more exciting but it can’t beat the addictiveness and fun of UNO.
Overall, Lost Cities isn’t really worth spending MS points on. If you have a few spare and want a nice mix between strategy and card games, then go ahead, but Lost Cities will not be for everyone.