Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Box Art
System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360*
Dev: Stainless Games
Pub: Wizards of the Coast
Release: June 20, 2012
Players: 1-2
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

Finally, there's a ridiculous new mode, Planechase, a free-for-all four-person match in which an unmanned deck of cards unleashes "Planes," or random global effects that wreak havoc on the game.

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Screenshot

That's all to the good, but it's not to say that Magic players will be leaving the card stores in droves. Planeswalkers 2013 lacks a lot of what the paper game provides. Some of this is inherent to the medium of video games—for example, the basic conversation and camaraderie that accompanies a card game goes missing when the game is online. (We nerds don't get out much, so we need all the social interaction we can get.) Also, the game is constantly pausing for a few seconds to let you look at new cards that have been played and make decisions about how to respond—which is often necessary, but also interrupts the more natural flow of the paper game.

Some of the design decisions are kind of obnoxious, though. For example, the game seems to pause more than it needs to when there's absolutely nothing you can do in response to your opponent's cards. It seems that a better system would allow the A.I. to make these moves instantaneously and simply provide you with a summary. The animations are also longer than they need to be. And despite the fact that the entire game consists of showing you simple images of cards with some text and animations, there are loading times between matches. Overall, the gameplay feels much, much slower than it needs to. With other card games (like hearts and poker), the digital world offers speedy games to make up for the lack of social interaction. Planeswalkers 2013 fails to take advantage of this possibility.

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Basically, Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 does an acceptable job of bringing Magic into the world of video games and upgrading the 2012 version. However, there are enough hiccups in the implementation that most Magic fans will prefer to stick with the paper product—and those of us who no longer play Magic aren't missing anything by skipping it.

By
Robert VerBruggen
Contributing Writer
Date: June 26, 2012

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.0
Graphics
All the game does is show you cards and animations, but there are still loading times.
4.5
Control
Select card. Push button.
4.3
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The fantasy music works with the game.
3.5
Play Value
It's just a card game, but it's basically well-designed.
3.5
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Players face a greater challenge, Magic's ultimate evil mastermind, the dragon Planeswalker Nicol Bolas.
  • Ten fresh decks.
  • Multiplayer game mode featuring Planechase.
  • Fresh puzzle challenges.
  • Optional manual mana tapping
  • Integration between the digital and paper product: Duels of the Planeswalkers players get the first look at cards from the upcoming Magic 2013 Core Set releasing this summer.
  • In addition to XBox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is going to be available on iPad!


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