Review by knucklez

"The Best Magic: The Gathering Beginners Game Ever."

Magic: The Gathering is the longest running game in the history of Trading Card Games. Playing the game with actual cards is cumbersome for busy people and the game's deep roots make it intimidating for the average gamer to try out. Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers changes all that.

Gameplay: 8/10
The game plays out like a normal game of Magic: The Gathering. You take turns with 2 to 4 opponents. The basic steps of the game is putting down Land/Mana cards in order to summon creatures, spells, artifacts and other various cards. You can only play 1 Land card per turn, meaning the game gradually builds up to a point where you are summoning stronger creatures and using abilities with wild effects. The game features 1v1, 3 Player Free for All, 4 Player Free for All. It also features Co-Op 2 headed Ogre, but this mode is not enabled for online play.

The game comes with 8 decks of 60 cards. They contain various colors and color combinations. Each deck type is unique in it's play style. Some focus on overpowering your opponent with monsters, some focus on manipulating your opponent to the point where they're helpless against you. Each deck is fun to learn to play with, and you'll find yourself surprised at new tricks you learn as you play more. The game is very beginner friendly and gives you tips as you play along. It also lets you view specific abilities and effects in greater detail.

There is also a challenges mode, that pits you into certain scenarios already in progress. In these pre-crafted puzzles, you have to figure out which moves must be used to win the game in one turn. These certainly train you to observe and adapt in the actual games.

There are a few complaints, more so from the experienced Magic player. The most prominent problem is that you can't edit the 60 cards of each deck at all. They give you a little freedom however, by allowing you to earn up to 17 cards for each deck in single player mode. The game can also somewhat artificially limit your pace by providing timers between actions. This helps players observe what's going on, but hinders people who want to play quicker.

Controls: 9/10
Controls are simple and straightforward. The analog sticks select cards, the A button selects, B button cancels, Y button continues actions to make sure you've seen them, and Right trigger zooms in on cards for greater detail. You can also rotate the table view as well.

Sound: 7/10
Sound is fair for the most part. You here a sound effect or the ruffling of cards as you select different options. Different attacks will cause a different sound to play. A sword will sound like a slash. The music is better than good. They're memorable, catchy, and help build up the tension in a close game.

Graphics/Story: 10/10
While the game has no story itself, the art on the cards are fantastic and each one is subtitled with a quote or tidbit from the Magic: The Gathering universe. Personally I appreciate the art and information and it's easy to imagine the card game art as a window into a fantastic world.

Final Score: 9/10
For what it offers, Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers is a fantastic game. Collecting the extra cards for your deck and online play give you lots of replayability. Magic Gurus may feel a bit out of place being unable to customize their decks, but it offers a fair playing field for newcomers. New and Experienced players can even use the mentor system to help others or get information about the game.

If you've ever wondered why Magic is such a popular gaming franchise, or if you're interested in learning or playing a game you're already familiar with - Magic the Gathering does not disappoint. It's a great deal at it's modest price tag of $10.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/29/09

Game Release: Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers (US, 10/16/09)

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