Developer(s): Stainless Games
Publisher(s): Wizards of the Coast
Platform(s): PC, iOS, Android, PS3, XBLA
Review Platform: XBLA
Release Date: June 26, 2013
Sliver me timbers! Is that another Duels of the Planeswalkers I see on the horizon?
Wizards of the Coast foray into a playable, virtual version of their popular Magic: The Gathering trading card game isn't as in depth as Magic Online, but surpasses every other entry in the series that preceded it. 2014 is shaping up to be a great year to be a Magic player and this game may finally get your unconvinced friends into slinging spells.
The physical game of Magic: The Gathering is easy to review. It's a ten. It's no surprise that it has existed for nearly 20 years. With over 10,000 interchangeable pieces, the options for creating unique and powerful decks are endless. In recent years, Wizards has tried to immortalize the fun and excitement of Magic via its Duels of the Planeswalkers series. Does 2014 offer up anything nostalgia for those who may have fallen out of love with the game? Yes. Does it have a revamped tutorial mode to entice newcomers? Yes. So, is it worth ten bucks? Yes!
Magic is, admittedly, not a jump-in-and-play card game. There is a steep learning curve that tends to frustrate newcomers. A familiarity with the different kinds of cards is necessary to fully grasp the deep intricacies of its core gameplay mechanics. DotP's tutorial mode breaks down all of these necessities down into a comprehensible, interactive package that is way better than hearing your friend rant about how the game has declined in the past five years. I have a hard time explaining things when communicating in a non-text format; so if you're that type of person, get them to play the tutorial.
Once you have a feel for the game, you could try to give DotP's campaign a try. Like previous entries in the series, you start off with a single deck and battle your way through multiple Planeswalkers, unlocking access to new decks as you progress. The reason I emphasize try the campaign is that the deck you start out with is a terrible green deck with almost no card synergy. It's difficult to beat Chandra with no, or very little, prior knowledge of the game. At times during the campaign, the computer AI's deck seems completely stacked against yours. This may frustrate newcomers as well, but hang in there, this game gets better.
The newest feature of DotP 2014 is the sealed deck campaign. This allows intermediate players the opportunity to crack open six virtual packs of Magic cards and construct a 40 card minimum deck that they can play against computer AI or online in up to four-player matches. As you progress through the sealed campaign, you will be awarded additional packs with which to customize your own unique deck. You can create up to two sealed decks upon purchasing the game with additional sealed deck slots being priced at $1.99.
In addition to over 50 upcoming cards from the Magic 2014 Core Set being featured, this DotP showcases the return of the popular creature type slivers. Not only have these snake-alien hybrid creatures evolved physically by growing arms and legs, but their downside has been eliminated. Instead of giving their abilities to all slivers on both sides of the board, their hive love has been restricted to only sliver creatures you control. This is a strictly better upgrade compared to the last batch Wizards gave us and quickly snowballs into an army of these powerful, little buggers.
|Final Score||“Magic Fans Rejoice”||8.0|
The game doesn't impress visually, but it's not about the graphics! It's all about the card art, which is as phenomenal as ever this year. Some cards even have a slight animation in the art when you zoom in on them. Neat!
The card game itself is easily a 10. In DotP, there are a few qualms I have with the gameplay. You have to be quick to stop the timer if you need to cast an instant in response to a spell your opponent's casting. There can also be some slowdown mid-battle when playing games online. Other than that, it's the same 20 year old game.
Different challenge scenarios, two campaigns, an expansive tutorial, and an online mode are enough to keep you around awhile. That is – if you're a true Planeswalker up to that task.
Not the worst, not the best. The background music in every battle keeps the mood tense.
Review by Michael Engle
Raised on punk rock and video games, Michael Engle remembers a time when Mario was on his second birthday cake and when game reviews weren't biased and contrived. Engle hopes to bring his love of nostalgia and gaming honesty to you. He co-hosts his own video game news podcast, All Your News are Belong to Us. He loves games, writing, music, and not sleeping. All Articles by Michael.