modeps's Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers

Magic the Gathering has been around for over 15 years now and has seen it's fair share of expansions, tournaments, rule changes and shoddy video games. Sure, you can take to the PC and play Magic Online, but really... who wants to spend real cash to get virtual booster packs? Not this guy. Enter the latest video take on the super popular collectible card game. Titled Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers, Stainless Games has tried to give every type of Magic player (newcomer to veteran) something to enjoy.

Learning the rules of Magic can be simple or difficult depending on the method, therefore Stainless has included multiple ways to learn the ropes. First, you've got your typical tutorial that will help you get started but due to the sheer number of things you'll need to know, playing is the best way to get your learn on. The tutorial does a fair job at helping you learn the different phases of play and order. While you play and card with a new attribute is introduced, you'll get an explanation right there in plain words, describing the new ability of that card. What's smart here is that they allow you to just dismiss it for the time being so it will be explained again if that attribute comes up again, or permanently once you feel you know what it means.

The most helpful included learning method is quite cool. There is a 'mentor' system in place that allows you to either mentor, or be mentored by people on your friends list or on Xbox Live. This is often the best way to learn how to play Magic as you'll be able to ask questions and get responses to immediate situations. If you're a noob and worried about running into a foul mouthed tween who really doesn't want to help and instead berate, don't. After each mentoring session, you can rate the person you were with on a scale of 1-5 stars and that info is displayed for everyone to see when picking who they're going to learn from.

During the campaign mode of the game, you'll fight a series of Planeswalkers without any specific story tying them all together. This is mostly a catalyst for online play as you'll get to learn the ins and outs of the included decks as well as unlock plenty of extra cards to use. Each deck is unlocked by playing through the campaign mode, and have 17 unlockable cards on top of that. While this helps with aiding customization and variations on decks you'll see online, its a fixed and known quantity and removes much of the randomness you see. You can pick and choose which of these extra cards you'll include, but cannot remove anything from the pre-builts. Additionally, while you have 17 cards to unlock, some are dupes as its usually prudent to include multiple copies of certain cards to ensure they come up during the game.

Feature wise, this game has just about everything you could want with the exception of tournament play. Campaign mode is there, alongside an offline co-op campaign mode. When you take your fight online, you've got 1v1, three and four player free-for-all, and two headed giant games (2v2). Lastly, you've got a puzzle mode to mess around with and learn how to effectively use your cards. Veteran players will certainly enjoy the competitive nature of Xbox Live matches although the deck customization (or lack thereof) will probably eventually force them back to the real world.

I'd be amiss if I didn't mention some technical issues with the titles. For whatever reason, the game has a tendency to lock up on you at inopportune times. This is severely frustrating, particularly in the midst of a heated battle. You'll need to reset your 360 to get things going again. Hopefully Stainless will fix these random lockups. Additionally, if you want to take a look at a specific card on the table, highlighting and enlarging is often a chore and sometimes can't even be done, so I hope you've got a good memory. There are icons that denote a card's special ability, but it'll be a while before you can easily recognize what all those mean.

Xbox Live Arcade has seen it's fair share of tabletop games, most of which translate very nicely while some seem like simple cash in takes on social gaming. Thankfully, Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers falls into the earlier category with a title that streamlines and somewhat simplifies the complex rule-set of MtG which can be daunting to learn for beginners. While the 'seasoned' player will certainly find faults, for the price point it truly is a great way to get some some quick and entertaining games of Magic in without having to brave the nerd shops and spend all your disposable income on boosters.

The Good
  • For 800 MSP, this is a no brainier if you're interested at all in Magic
  • Attractive, high-res card artwork
  • Features up the wahzoo
The Bad
  • Played card selection and enlarging is overly laborious
  • Card customization is weak
The Ugly
  • Random lockups on a console game? Fail.
1 Comments
Edited by BillToWin

Quote: "Additionally, if you want to take a look at a specific card on the table, highlighting and enlarging is often a chore and sometimes can't even be done, so I hope you've got a good memory. " 


You can use the right stick to select any card on the field allowing you to enlarge it also. Try it out! :)

Good review, I bought the game because of it. Thanks

Other reviews for Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers (Xbox 360 Games Store)

    I'll counter that 0

    Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers is a game that's hard to judge. It's going to provide something radically different for different people, and your own enjoyment of it will depend heavily on your history with the Magic card game itself. In short, Duels of the Planeswalkers is a great introduction for newcomers, but might not offer the level of depth and customization that Magic veterans ultimately seek.For those not in the know, Magic the Gathering is a ridiculously complex (but...

    5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

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