Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planewalkers 2014 Review: dynamic, digital magic romp returns with a slight identity crisis

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Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planewalker 2014

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DoTP has brilliant core gameplay and a near-perfect interface, but it's hampered by locked content, and not knowing what game it wants to be.

We like

  • The core gameplay is well-replicated
  • Standout multiplayer
  • Sealed Deck is a great addition

We dislike

  • The dull interface
  • Lazy tutorial
  • Feels directionless

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

(continued from previous page) ...That changes the game somewhat as players share a life total. It is better suited to multiplayer than single-player, as you can communicate with your ally. As well as providing the opportunity to talk about strategy, it also makes the battle feel more alive. The other returning single-player mode is Challenge, which is a solid game mode and a worthy distraction. Its purpose is working out how to win in certain pre-set scenarios. It is appealing, but it is only bite-sized, and obviously the battles don't have the dynamic nature of a traditional Magic battle.

The new Sealed Play mode is new and much wanted. It is probably the best mode in the entirety of the game, as it gives you total freedom to build your deck, since you receive random cards. Building your deck is one of the most exciting aspects of Magic, and is ultimately very rewarding if the built decks brings success. It feels somewhat stingy that you are only given two slots for decks, the opportunity to earn three more booster packs in single-player not making up for this. The limit undermines the benefit of a computer-based Magic game, in which you could potentially have a near-unlimited array of cards. You also don't get free reign with your deck in single player, as you can only play with it in a Sealed Play campaign, which puts brakes on the fun.

Multiplayer is where the game really comes into its own. Fighting against AI can't replicate the thrill of playing against real people, who you know are responding to your actions because of programming rather than thought. The modes available are Free For All, Two-Headed Giant and Sealed Play. The latter gives multiplayer even more longevity than the single-player modes, since you don't have to fight a series of duels as in the single-player version of Sealed Play, or use pre-constructed decks.

The game is difficult whether online or off, and it may seem to be impenetrably so for beginners. Certain battles are very difficult when you're not using an appropriate decks. To stand a chance of winning, you will have to customise your decks, you might have to play to unlock more cards, and, indeed, the player might find it easier with one of the decks that has to be unlocked. The only benefit of beginning online is that there will likely also be inexperienced places, whereas the AI seems tough competition offline on whatever difficulty you choose. Lower difficulties do have the benefit of hints as to what cards to play, which might be necessary in order to keep motivation.

DoTP 2014 builds on the successes of previous instalments, with Sealed Pack being a brilliant introduction that really deserved to be there from the start. However, this represents how the game is torn between being focused on duels and appealing to those who want to play a standard Magic game, and the latter certainly seems the better, more long-lasting attraction. On top of that, hurdles stop the game from being able to be fully experienced from the start. For a game that has all the brilliant gameplay it needs, it is a shame that it can't be rated as highly as it could have been.

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