Game Review: Magic: the Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 [Xbox 360/PS3/PC/iOS]
If you have never heard or played Magic before, it’s a simple card game to learn but one that is hard to master. Each player starts with 20 life points and the one left with zero life points loses the game. The way you can attack other opponents is with the use of creature cards or specialty type cards that deal damage, for example you could have a sorcery card that deals 2 damage points to all players.
The game does a great job though of explaining the rules with a very thorough tutorial. It also gives extensive help when you are playing it, with the option of tips or you can examine a card and get details on what it does. You will need all the help you can get as AI opponents get tougher with each battle. This causes you to change your strategy with each encounter, this can be done with either a new deck or alternately if you do have a favourite deck, you can manipulate it with the extensive deck manager tool.
For the most part you will be spending your time on the single player campaign, which has the potential to last hours for dedicated players. There are several decks that can be obtained and each deck that you do own has 30 cards that can be collected. These are collected by constant use of that deck, meaning that you are rewarded for using your preferred deck. It’s a simple but very welcome touch that lets you experiment with different decks, whilst allowing you to slowly build your portfolio of cards for each deck.
A big complaint that I have about the decks is that you can still not freely create your own deck. For lovers of the series this is a big letdown and hopefully is something that can be addressed in the next installment.
The campaign provides a story mode which pits you against AI opponents in one vs one battles. The revenge mode pits you against unforgiving foes that have all types of tricks up their sleeves. Challenge mode sees you in rather tricky scenarios that warrant your 100% focus, these are serious head scratchers that will have you thinking for a long time. The new game mode entitled “Planechase” pits you against three other opponents and the difference here is the plane cards, which are placed in the middle. Each plane card effectively changes the way you play the game, that is until another player changes it. This is an interesting concept on paper but in reality it slows down the pace of the game as it takes a long time for it to get around to your turn, this is particularly true against AI opponents. If they had introduced a fast-forwarding mechanic, it would be a much more enjoyable game mode.
The biggest problem that I have with both single player and multiplayer is the timer, which is used in between each stage of your turn, when other players are attacking you, and when you have the option to defend. Magic is a skill-based game, where every move counts and it takes time to strategize your moves, having to press a button with each stage of the game to stop the timer is frustrating and unnecessary. In moments of multiplayer I have found this to be particularly frustrating and in many cases has lost me the game. I know it’s there to keep you on your toes at all times but it would be nice to at least have the option to remove it.
Multiplayer in Magic 2013 is a fun distraction but didn’t keep me hooked for too long as there are no competitive leaderboards. If another player decides to leave the game then they are replaced by an AI opponent, allowing the game to continue without a hitch.
The best part of the package though is undoubtedly the artwork, which is gorgeous. Whether it’s a loading screen or the cards themselves, there is always something stunning to behold. The detail of each card is incredible and really boosts the presentation of the game.
Overall this is a very solid game that will keep fans of the series enticed for hours and for all you players who have never tried it before, now’s the time to catch up and play one of the best card games around.