Guild's Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 Review

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by Guild McCommunist, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    My inner nerd can breath once more! Duels of the Planeswalkers is back!

    [​IMG]

    Magic the Gathering is probably one of my saddest and best obsessions. Over my 10 year playing history, I've spent more money than I care to remember and littered my entire room with these damn pieces of cardboard crack. But I can't blame the game, it's fantastic. Magic is THE trading card game, essentially making the genre and with future trading card games (most notably the Pokemon Trading Card game and Yu-Gi-Oh!) owing most of their merits to it. But sadly, despite being around for almost 20 years (20th anniversary I believe is 2013), video games based on the franchise are quite rare, with only a few of them actually based around the card game (one being Micropose's 1998 computer game, another being the original Duels of the Planeswalkers, and the other one being Magic Online). Fortunately, Duels of the Planeswalkers has been delivering your Magic playing goodness, offering a comprehensive video game adaptation of the classic card game that's available to any level of player.

    First off, I'd like to say Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is absolutely fantastic for Magic newbies. If you were interested in the game but didn't feel like gambling a bunch of cash (trust me, to get a decent Magic decks requires A LOT of cash), DotP 2012 is definitely the way to go. For $10, you'll get access to a bunch of decks and get a feel for how the game works. If you really love it and know people who will play with you, you can start investing in actual cards. If you enjoy it but don't feel like/have the funds to get into serious collecting, you can always just stick to playing the game and buying their future iterations. Even if you're a pretty large player and collector (such as myself), it's still a way to play the game solo or across the magical intertubes with all the trimmings of the rulebook (tabletop programs like OCTGN are a bit more comprehensive but often require you to manage everything while DotP has all the rules built in). It's also a great way for expert players and novice players to play against each other without as much imbalance as in real life (since expert level players will have expert level decks and novice level players will have novice level decks).

    However, this "newbie's allowed" type of game can be unattractive to some. There's pretty much no deck building in DotP 2012. All the decks are prebuilt and while they allow for some modification, you can't build a deck from the ground up. They did, however, compared to the previous DotP, allow you to remove cards from the core deck instead of just add them, so you can say goodbye to those useless Runeclaw Bears and Giant Octopuses. Still, the decks incorporate some basic themes like standard speed red decks (namely Chandra's in game), ramp (definitely Kiora's, Garruk's might go under there too), etc., so odds are you'll be able to stick to the theme you want (I couldn't really find a good control deck though). Some will probably hate this aspect, I for one think it's a good idea to keep the playing field relatively level. Side note, there are definitely some minor deck balancing issues though (Koth's deck is significantly worse than Chandra's, for example) but in the end most decks can compete with each other.

    As for the gameplay itself, it'd take me a long time to go into all the aspects of Magic. It's probably easier to try the tutorial in-game than have my type it all out for you. So, I'll be evaluating the game on its interpretation of the card game, which it does mostly well, but makes some sacrifices to streamline the experience. The following is gonna be a lot of Magic jargon, so prepare yourselves. First thing I noticed is that they cut out the End Step. Typically I'd use the End Step to do activated abilities or play Instants so that my mana and creatures untap immediately after that and I basically did all my actions for free. After Main Phase 2 it goes immediately to your turn. It's not a big issue though as you can tell when your opponent is done playing stuff on Main Phase 2, but it's noticeable. A lot of the playing is also automated, such as land tapping. Usually this isn't an issue as the game taps your lands to make sure you'll have the right ones open for cards in your hand, but there have been times that it'll tap the wrong set of lands and leave me unable to play a card. There's also not as much "rule bending", in particular cards that say "may". In the actual game, if a card says "You may do this", it doesn't mean it happens. It's up to you to call it. Most decent players will call this so it's not a huge issue, but there are some instances that you may (no pun intended) not want your card's ability to be activated. Overall though, the game plays just like real life, and the streamlining is acceptable given the circumstances.

    Outside of the core gameplay, the game gives you a few different play options. There's three separate single player campaigns: your standard 1v1 match, a new Archenemy gameplay that's 3v1, and Revenge (which is a harder version of the standard 1v1 campaign). As you play, you'll unlock decks and cards for each deck. In each campaign, there's also puzzles, where you'll have to defeat the enemy in a single turn with a given situation (think of those chess puzzles in newspapers). The campaign does offer some good single player Magic although it can get kinda repetitive, especially with only having access to a few decks. Still, it's an addictive game, and unlocking all 16 extra cards for each deck is definitely alluring, as well as beating all the campaigns. There's of course the multiplayer though, which brings backs your standards selection of 1v1, Two-Headed Giant (a 2v2 game), and also allows you to do Archenemy as well. If you've got enough Magic-philes on your Friends list then this game is a must, especially if you can't play a game in real life and find OCTGN to be a bit of a hassle.

    The UI here also works rather well. For the Xbox though, navigating with the analog nubs is nowhere near as ideal as using a mouse, but once you get a hang of it, it'll work, although still feel rather clunky. You can also zoom in on any card to clearly read everything (which is good because depending on your TV size, it's near impossible to read some cards). You can stop the timer at any time to put a spell or ability on the stack, clearly say what cards are targeting what, whose attacking who, all that stuff.

    The game itself doesn't feature a lot of flash in graphics or audio, but it wasn't really expected. It's based on a game made out of paper cards after all. It does, however, feature a pretty neat opening cutscene and the same fantastic Magic the Gathering art that's expected from the series, which looks particularly awesome on a larger screen. For audio, there's some basic background tunes that are either forgettable or a bit annoying, but you'll be too focused on Gideon's Avenger and these new M12 cards to notice. Oh, did I mention this game features cards from the upcoming M12 set? Well it does.

    Overall, if you're a Magic player, this is the game for you. Whether you're old, new, novice, experienced, or even if you haven't played the game ever and wanted to test the waters, for a $10 price tag, it's hard to pass up. Between the classic multiplayer (the original DotP has been high on the Xbox Live Arcade charts since it was released two years ago, so expect this to keep an active online community too), addictive singleplayer (a tad bit repetitive but you'll still be playing it), and just being able to play Magic whenever, it's the game for virgins Magic players all around.

    Presentation: The UI isn't as easy to navigate as on a PC but given the controller, it's the bet it'll get. Menus are clear, it runs fluidly, and everything is very visible. For the system at hand, unless they implement Kinect support (but even I wouldn't spend $150 just for a better way to play DotP), it's the best it's gonna get. 7.5/10

    Graphics: It's based of a game played with paper cards so if you were expecting a lot of flash, then you're retarded. Still, the artwork is fantastic (particularly for loading screens) and looks great, all the animations are smooth, and all the original card art is crisp and defined. Intro is pretty nice though.8/10

    Audio: There's some basic background tunes and that's about it. Not really necessary for the game but some of them can get annoying (for me at least). 5/10

    Gameplay: There are some minor sacrifices to keep the game a bit more streamlined but they're all acceptable. A lack of deckbuilding may be upsetting for some but in the end, it keeps the game more balanced between newbies and pros. It still keeps all the Magic rules intact and Magic is a timeless and, simply put, the best collectible card game ever made. Archenemy is a decent addition but not nearly as good as original 1v1 or 2v2. 9/10

    Lasting Appeal: Between 3 separate campaigns and multiple decks to play as (and unlock all cards for), you've got some decent single player time on your hands, although it gets quite repetitive after some time. Still, the original DotP has stayed in the top 10 for Xbox Live Arcade title activity since it was released two years ago, so having an active online community is pretty much a given. And with Magic being all about the multiplayer, it's more than enough for any Planeswalker. 9.5/10

    Overall: 8.5/10

    If you're a Magic fan, buy this shit. I may force my friends to buy and re-up my Xbox Live subscription just to kick their asses online (I already do in real life [​IMG])
     
  2. ZaeZae64

    Member ZaeZae64 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I preordered it when it came out. It's rather interesting. Got some cooly TF2 hats for preordering as well :3
     
  3. Hedgehogofchaos

    Member Hedgehogofchaos GBAtemp Regular

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    I am an avid magic player myself and I would like to point out that the ability to modify decks is limited for a few reasons. The first reason is not to directly compete with an existing product of Wizards of the Coast (which is Magic: The Gathering Online), and the second is to maintain a balance for online playing.

    I've heard some complaints about the time it takes after every action, what most new players dont realize is that this time is valuable for playing instants and activating abilities.
     
  4. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    I'm still wondering why they gave Chandra's goggles to the Scout when the Pyro A) uses fire (like Chandra) and B) is rumored to also be female (like Chandra). Just have them put it over their mask.
     
  5. ZaeZae64

    Member ZaeZae64 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I hadn't thought about that actually. And you're right, they would be much more suited for the Pyro (I mean c'mon they even have fire on the goggles). Now that I think about it, Pyro hasn't gotten any promo items (not counting all class promos like Buds and Bill's hat). Wait a minute I forgot about the Killing Floor items. But still Pyro barely gets anything in the all class updates.
    VALVE. Y U NO LIKE PYRO?
     

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