Magic 2013 Preview
Handy improvements mark the release of Stainless Games’ Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. The successful and most recent predecessor seemed a bit tough to beat in terms of quality, entertainment and functionality, but the developer has found little ways to make even the most scrupulous Magic fan feel satisfied. From the casual gamer to the hardcore veteran of the Wizards of the Coast franchise, 2013 is sure to leave you coming back for more.
After a short intro into the back story of some of Magic’s characters, you’re given the option of choosing between three difficulties for your solo campaign. You’re asked, “How much Magic: The Gathering have you played?”. Your options: None, A Little or A Lot. These varying degrees definitely can be challenging at times, but the satisfaction in defeating some very tough AI opponents is completely worth it.
In the main menu, under Player Status, you’re able to track your most important personal stats, such as your highest life total and the highest power of a creature you have controlled, to name a couple. Simple bragging rights and leaderboard placements are always a plus. As always, the Deck Manager option proves to be useful in creating a more personalized deck. For the newcomers to the series, a helpful tutorial is also available to give you some basic knowledge of how to play, but is not required in order to begin the game.
Upon initial gameplay, there’s not many obvious changes to the graphics or controls. The card illustrations do the real-life versions complete justice. Switching back and forth to examine your hand is incredibly smooth and makes for virtually no frustrations. Also, the option to zoom in on the details of any given card is just as flawless as in the two previous Magic games. Through beating certain opponents, you’re able to unlock an array of cards and decks that prove to be highly useful in your campaign, as well as multiplayer. Fans of using multi-colored decks will be happy to know that there is also now a manual mana-tapping option, allowing them to decide which specific-colored mana they’d prefer to tap when selecting a creature or spell. This takes a good bit of aggravation out of previously not being able to have a choice.
New to Magic 2013 are Encounters. When described, they “…are a way to test how your deck performs against a specific strategy. You play your deck as normal, but your opponent plays the cards in the same order every time. Recognizing the patterns in your opponent’s play can help you beat the encounter.” This feature will surely help those who need that little bit of extra practice. Encounters appear to be completely optional and allow you to use any decks you have unlocked already. In the demo, I was able to skip an Encounter and opted to fight the first boss instead. Besides the expected campaign, there are a few other options of gameplay which include Revenge, Planechase and Challenges. This is certain to provide lots of play time and give you more bang for your buck, as if the traditional multiplayer modes weren’t enough to keep you interested already.
The demo for Magic 2013 is short and sweet. But, as an avid lover of the series, I’m almost certain the purchase of the full game is well worth it. With ten new decks and a new boss, Nicol Bolas, Stainless Games has merely taken an already-successful series and tweeked it here and there to provide the best experience possible. The fans will surely thank them for it.
Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is now available for download on Xbox 360, PS3, Steam and iPad for $9.99.