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This review was submitted by Alex Walker. If you’ve played Duels of the Planeswalkers, or just want to ask Alex more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers (PC)
After a year on the Xbox Live Arcade, Stainless Games' downloadable title for the most popular collectible card game next to Pokemon hits the PC. But is it fun?
Please Explain: It's impossible to fully understand the labyrinth that is the Magic: The Gathering ruleset in less than a week, but the tutorial does a decent job of setting you up for the campaign.
Challenging: The challenge mode gives you a set of scenarios where you have to win in a single turn. It's the most enjoyable part of the game, replicating the addictive puzzling nature of Magic: The Gathering at its most complicated.
Free-for-all Magic: On top of the single-player campaign and one-on-one online play, there's also a co-op campaign, three player and four player free-for-alls and the team-based Two Headed Giant.
Pre-made Decks: Building a deck is one of the most challenging parts of Magic, and the game removes this hassle by providing a wide range of pre-made decks that offer a good mix of play styles.
Pre-made Decks: But while building a deck might be tough, it's also part of the fun - except Stainless Games doesn't want you to experience that, since they removed the option altogether.
Sideboard: As you win duels, you unlock extra cards that you can add to the premade decks. But that's as far as it goes; you can't substitute weaker cards out, and you can't adjust the amount of lands in each deck either. The whole point of a sideboard is to sub out ineffective cards for stronger ones. Just increasing the size of your deck makes it weaker. It also makes online play pointless when you're playing against someone with the exact same deck.
Wasteland: It's possible that gamers were spending their waking hours watching E3, but the online play was completely dead. I couldn't get a game online the first two days after release, and even on the third I had to wait half an hour.
Co-op Controllers: Co-op campaign is a neat idea, but it's not available unless you've got a controller connected to your PC. I can't even find the words to express how stupid this is.
Lifeless: The campaign consists of a series of duels - one on one matches against the AI - and once you're finished you're sent back into the menu screen. There's no storyline, no victory screen, no intro sequence and no charm whatsoever. It's dull, lifeless and utterly devoid of any charm.
Stainless Games should have taken a leaf out of Microprose's book, who recreated the card game into a non-linear campaign that saw you taking down enemy castles, hunting through dungeons and saving the world while faithfully recreating the Magic experience. This iteration of Magic: The Gathering by Stainless Games is uninspired by comparison. What's wrong with a little creativity, guys?
Reviewed by: Alex Walker
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