"A Gathering that Could Lead to an Addiction"
Having bought the previous two Magic: the Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers games and never played them, I groaned when I heard about the 2013 version, thinking about all of the years I could have played and didn't. Having finally played the 2013 version, I see why it was a great idea I never played the other two: I would have been well in the middle of an addiction. Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 plays just like the physical version of the popular trading card game.
Following the rules of the Magic: The Gathering card game, players are given a deck of cards that consist of lands and spells. Lands are used to generate mana, of which there are five types, which must be gathered to cast spells. Spells are used for defense and offensive actions such as protection, one-time effects, and to summon creatures that are able to attack for and defend players from other attacks. The eventual goal is to attack the opponent enough to whittle their health down to 0.
Duels of the Planeswalkers takes this basic gameplay and adds plenty of things to make the game accessible to players of many levels. Upon starting up the game, it asks if you've played the physical version in the past and adjusts the A.I. accordingly. Two headed giant, a popular variant of the physical game, is available to play, while online multiplayer has been added for head-to-head battles over XBLA. For those playing alone, the game offers an expansive single-player mode in the form of a campaign that takes players all throughout the MTG universe as they face off against other Planeswalkers (A.I.opponents). This mode has quite a few of its own variants on the gameplay available to try, such as a series of trials that task players with turning around a game that could fail in one turn. There's also a lengthy tutorial mode that teaches players the basics in a controlled environment.
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 plays somewhat like what a player would expect a virtual version of the game to play like, just a bit slower. Even for someone who has barely played the game, like myself, the game moves at a very slow pace at times, with summoned creatures and their actions moving the slowest. It's not enough to bring the game down, but for a product where everything else is so polished, the game really holds your hand regardless of how long you may have played the physical version. Also, while guiding the player through gameplay at a slow pace, the game doesn't explain a lot of the terms and status changes that can be cast; during my game time I had to look up many terms in my smart phone.
Menus use the classic MTG artwork to give the game a high fantasy feel, although the CGI cinematics the game uses and the narration confuses, and the game feels as if it can't decide if it wants to acknowledge the player culture of the game or focus on the universe depicted in the cards. It just gets confusing when certain opponents in campaign mode are elaborated on more so than others.
In conclusion, Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is a great title that yet again shows that the gameplay of the card game translates well to a digital format. Not only has Stainless Games translated the card game to something playable with a controller, but they've added a ton of modes and variations on the gameplay only available in a digital form that make it a must have for die-hard fans of the card game and newcomers alike.
GameDynamo's Score for Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 (PC)
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