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Review – Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012

Posted by on June 30th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Tags:

It has been a long time since I played a game of Magic the Gathering, and Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 was also the first time I had played the game digitally. I guess I should also state in the interest of full disclosure that the last edition of Magic that I played was fifth edition. Several core sets and a few digital games later, here we are with Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. MtG2012 from the outset does a great job of acclimating the player to the basics regarding Magic as well as many of the rule changes that have been made for this latest set of cards. MtG is a card game that allows you to summon creatures and spells to defeat your opponents. In order to summon these things a player must have access to lands such as islands or forests to tap for mana. Different card combinations can have different effects and work better against certain types of decks.

The game features several AI planeswalkers that will test your skills and your ability to discover which decks are best to use against them. The only problem with this strategy is that it involves some trial and error in terms of finding a deck to use against a specific opponent, and this is further compounded by how, given the MtG’s roots as a card game, it  relies on luck of the draw for those moments when you need mana or a creature in order to cast something or damage your opponent. There’s a story surrounding all of this that is embroiled within the trappings of MtG, but its largely forgettable and just plain ignorable. In fact if this game had eschewed the narrative it would have been less contextualized, but at the same time less cheesy.

MtG2012’s single player campaign is broken up into 3 tiers. The first tier is the standard mode where you beat each planewalker in a one-on-one duel. As you beat each one you unlock their deck for use in the game. This campaign mode also features several challenges that will give you a default set of cards and an opponent, and ask you to defeat your opponent in a single hand. Its very reminiscent of the puzzle challenges in Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes. You can also replay any of the planeswalkers in this mode in order to unlock additional cards (up to 16) for each deck. The second tier is the Archenemy mode where you again duel the same planeswalkers, but this time you have either two human or AI (or some combination thereof) partners to help with defeating an über powerful version of the planeswalker. The one downside in this mode is the AI partners you’ll have who can make things very frustrating as you can’t dictate which card they should use. As a result they may be holding a card that could win a game, but don’t play it for one reason or another. The last tier is Revenge which is basically an extension of the standard campaign, but each planeswalker has a better set of cards and a higher difficulty level.

As stated before, as you win games against the AI cards for the deck you win with are unlocked. You can then choose to customize the deck. The problem, however, is that if you wish to have full customization and create a deck from scratch you are not given the option. You always have to use one of the unlocked decks as a starting template, and you can’t splice in cards from another set. Its a bit annoying, and limits the options available to more advanced players. Still, the variety of decks again has familiarity with Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes in the sense that while the core gameplay for Magic is the same regardless of deck used, the individual card types present in each deck present unique advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, this factors well into the multiplayer, which can be played cooperatively in the aforementioned Archenemy mode or competitively.

Overall, MtG2012 is a huge improvement over its predecessor, and does a great job of bringing in new players to Magic, while at the same time allowing more experienced players some freedom to customize. It also leaves some room for improvement in terms of tweaks to the AI and an increase in customizability of decks. If you’ve been interested in learning how to play Magic this is a great way to learn some of ins, outs, and intricacies. For those of you that believe in Magic already, you can pick this up if you want to play online against a friend, or you don’t have enough money to spend on the next core set. Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is available for $9.99 ($7.99 if you have PlayStation Plus). You can also pick up a copy of the original Duels of the Planeswalkers for free if you have a plus account if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

General Info

  • The story is provided merely for context, and is largely forgettable.
  • Co-operative games played with AI teammates can be frustrating.
  • Co-op games in Archenemy mode can be too reliant on a player's luck rather than skill.
  • Dearth of deck customization options.

  • Eric G

    how badass was the opening cinematic? awesome.