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Magic The Gathering – Duels of the Plainswalkers 2013 Review

/ Jun 25th, 2012 No Comments

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planewalkers 2013 Review

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planewalkers 2013 Review

Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planewalkers 2013 Review

Magic The Gathering – Duels of the Plainswalkers 2013 is the latest edition of the electronic edition of the popular trading card game, available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. For a low price of just under $10 you can take the action of MTG to your favorite gaming platform and play through a campaign mode, set up custom games against the computer or even compete online. The game allows you to play up to three opponents simultaneously in multiplayer format and uses the Magic 2013 Core Set before their original release date. The game is best played by those that already enjoy Magic: The Gathering and need an online fix between sessions with their friends and at the price point it’s being offered at, represents a good gaming value.

Features

Some of the key new features were ones that gamers from last year’s edition were asking for, which is nice to see in this year’s edition. There are updated graphics, music and most importantly new decks in this year’s edition. There are many different game modes between the campaign, custom game and multiplayer options. There’s the option to even play a “Planechase” format where you and up to three other players (be it AI or humans) will have to deal with game-changing events during the course of the match, similar to the way the Plainswalker edition of the game is played. Another key feature is the use of the Magic 2013 Core Set in the game before the cards actually hit store shelves. This gives gamers a competitive advantage over their comrades as the ones playing this game will be introduced to the new cards, abilities and dynamics introduced in this year’s edition.

Playing the Game

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planewalkers 2013

Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planewalkers 2013

This was our first foray into the video game version of Magic: The Gathering and tested it on a gaming PC via a Steam download. The popular video game site offers up the game for $9.99 which definitely won’t break any gamers’ bank accounts. Diving into the game you’ll play through a series of tutorials that culminates in your first match. For people just diving in to MTG you’ll be introduces perhaps a little quicker than you might like, but if you are patient and actually read the tips, you’ll be fine. For those of you that have been playing MTG it’ll be a very quick learning curve.

After your tutorial match, you’ll probably want to jump into the campaign mode which appears to take you through a progression of consecutively more challenging opponents. The matches are pretty fun but extremely easy early on. As you move forward in the campaign things definitely get more interesting. As a casual Magic player I found playing the video game edition novel and entertaining. It’s a great way to satisfy that MTG itch you might have in between sessions with your friends or at the comic book store. If you get bored of the campaign there’s plenty of other modes to check out, most specifically the Custom Game section where you can set up any kind of game you want. This makes just diving into a specific type of game against AI opponents pretty fun. There’s some fun game modes, including the aformentioned Planechase, but the FFA is really where I found spending most of my time because it felt authentic to the classic Magic: The Gathering experience.

The mechanics of playing is pretty easy to pick up and figuring out what cards actually do is also easy thanks to the zoom in/out feature courtesy of your mouse wheel. It feels like a genuine game of Magic and playing through all the new cards is a nice little thrill. You’ll be able to take advantage of manual mana tapping, something that apparently was the most asked for feature in this year’s edition. The only negative was trying to figure out deck customization – it certainly didn’t feel open enough to give you a real-world experience when it comes to the joy of building a multi-colored deck just the way you want it.

In terms of a pure game playing experience, it feels like Magic, acts like Magic and satisfied my itch for playing the game whenever I fired it up.

Multiplayer

Duels of the Planewalkers 2013 - Campaign Screenshot

Duels of the Planewalkers 2013 – Campaign Screenshot

There’s an online component to Magic: The Gathering Duel of the Planewalkers which held mixed results when testing the game for this review. Whenever trying to jump into a game, it failed to deliver a match. This was tested over the course of a week and every time we tried, it simply failed. However, when trying to host a game, things started up just fine and it took very little time to find an opponent. There’s an entire ranking/score system in place for all the different game modes, including multiplayer (aka online). The mechanics scoring system isn’t easy to figure out and for the life of me, I could never find a win-loss record anywhere. Summed up, the multiplayer experience was a little frustrating trying to get going but once I found a workaround that yielded results, we found playing real humans a lot more exciting than AI opponents.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics of the game certainly isn’t really the major piece of the puzzle when reviewing what amounts to a trading card video game. Sure, the screens, backgrounds and interface screens are well designed, but just how important is all that to a game like this? The answer – not all that much. The card artwork looks fantastic and the “special effects” for the cards, such as when they cause damage, when you assign something to attack or block, if it flies or even when auras/enhancements are cast all look great. The only downside with the graphics had nothing to do with the art design, but rather the weirdness behind how the main menu work – it sometimes seem to have a mind of its own going in the wrong direction. That’s a minor ding though, as the graphics for the game were as good as they should have been. There’s a decent “ambient” soundtrack in the game that isn’t exactly stirring but at least provides some background sound. There’s some decent sound effects for when cards are played, creatures take/deal damage and you win a match. A nice to have would have been an option to turn something in terms of custom audio on during a game.

Overall Impressions

Magic The Gathering – Duels of the Plainswalkers 2013 is a great buy considering it’s under $10 and available for all the major platforms. It’ll definitely satisfy your MTG itch without breaking the bank and also help you improve your game skills and give you heads-up on your friends (unless they are playing it too) on the Magic 2013 Core Set.

GAMING ILLUSTRATED RATINGS FOR MTG: DotP 2013 (PC)
Rating Description

8

Presentation
The game has some nice art direction and when playing in-game it looks great.

8

Graphics
Given the context of the game type, the graphics are pretty solid and certainly don’t take away from the experience.

7

Sound
The ambient background soundtrack was decent enough but nothing special.

9

Gameplay
If you’re a fan of MTG and want to dive right in to some games, look no further.

8

Lasting Appeal
Given the low price point, this game represents a fine gaming value considering how often MTG fans will be playing it year-round.
80% OVERALL SCORE

Sean W. Gibson

Sean W. Gibson

Founder, Featured Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Sean Gibson has been the owner and Executive Editor of Gaming Illustrated for over eleven years. His roles include acting as CEO and President of Gaming Illustrated, LLC and also includes being a reviewer, previewer and interviewer. Sean's opinions on this site do not reflect those of his full-time employer.
Sean W. Gibson
Sean W. Gibson

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