Any review that starts with the words “Online card game” will usually only instil excitement in a select few people – after all, with the deluge of interesting new indie releases running for the same price tag and gun-heavy triple AAA titles dominating the main pages of digital storefronts it almost feels like you’re going to get shot for looking at something that hasn’t been published by a gigantic corporation.
For the very real online card gaming crowd, this game should be the beginning and end of your collection. It’s just that simple. There’s a pretty finite amount of options you can justify taking with the development of one of these games, because in truth, there’s no point in pouring time and money in creating spectacular visuals or flashy effects because Magic: The Gathering doesn’t require it. As long as the cards and the game itself is recreated faithfully, gamers will be happy, and Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 takes that and runs with it.
So assuming you don’t know the details of Magic: The Gathering, let me fill you in a little bit. It’s a fantasy card game based around the use of five different colours of mana (Red, blue, white, black, green) that each correspond to an appropriate element. You play land cards relating to these colours to cast spells and summon monsters to deal damage to your opponent, but you can play mana in any combination. Want a deck that focuses on building an elite team of undead angels? Go for it. Want to summon hordes of virtually unblockable phoenixes to decimate your opponent’s life points in the blink of an eye? That’s just as easy. It’s an overarching mechanic that’s simple to grasp but takes a lot of time to master.
The sole focus of the game is content, content, content, and then when you run out of content, there’s even more content thanks to cheap purchasable decks and online play against limitless opponents. If Magic is your thing than this will keep you entertained for months with 10 total unlockable decks that grow and become more and more flexible the more you use them. No matter your preferred play style there’s a deck for you amongst the comprehensive customisation system, and even when you’re forced to play with the basic decks at the very beginning you might find a particular colour more fun than you have before. It encourages much more experimentation than the physical game because you can’t just stick with the colours you usually prefer to begin with, and certain coloured decks are much more suited to overcoming specific opponents and encounters.
It also provides the perfect starting point for new players. It might not accustom you to playing face to face with someone but each deck is automatically set up for rookie use from the start, with ample options to configure it for more advanced players, and the game does a perfect job of guiding beginners through the basic and more advanced rules. It’s easy to see that it’s been designed with hooking the uninitiated into the ongoing Magic phenomenon but it does nothing to pander to the masses or simplify the game itself.
It’s not a story-based game, although it does have an expansive amount of campaigns and challenges. You get to face off against some of Magic’s most famous characters and do battle in its most notorious planes, and that’s all Magic fans can really ask for.
It’s the perfect port of the physical card game. You get to test your decks against a variety of opponents and ‘encounters’ specially designed to teach you how to react to specific strategies and the flawless translation to video game form is a crystal clear example of how well designed Magic is. It develops a perfect understanding of the rules in new players and offers varying degrees of challenge depending on your level of experience with the game. It’s a perfect way to learn how to play Magic as a beginner or refine tactics and strategies when you don’t have an opponent as an experienced player.
Crisp and lovely to look at, the star of the show is the stunning artwork present throughout. The tiny snapshots on the cards don’t do the unreal fantasy art justice and it’s great to see them on a bigger scale. The style is perfect for the game and everything is pretty enough to be easy on the eyes during the many, many hours you’ll be fixed to the screen.
There are absolutely no complaints to be had with Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. It has something for Magic players of every level and age, working as either the perfect introduction or a mighty gauntlet of challenges . Buy it!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.