Duels of the PlanesWalkers from Wizards of the Coast has already been reviewed on this site, way back in 2009 when the game was released on XBLA. Now, after all of this time, it has finally arrived on PSN. Nothing really has changed, except that maybe the game looks a little better, but for the PlayStation fans out there who are considering picking this up, and to please me as I love talking about Magic: The Gathering, let’s just recap…
If you have never played Magic: The Gathering before in any of its forms, it is a card game, possibly the most popular collectible card game in the world. The basics of the game are simple. The player begins with a deck of cards containing lands and spells or various types. The player draws a hand of cards and from there may put down one land each turn. These lands provide the mana that is required to cast spells, with different types of spells requiring a different number of mana points. The lands and spells come, at their most simple, in five different colours that correspond to each other, black spells require black lands (Swaps) for example. The aim of the game is to cause damage to your opponent through the use of spells and reduce their life points to zero.
There are different types of spells that can be cast, such as healing spells or direct damage spells, but the most common type of spell is the creature summoning spell. With this the player can summon a creature to the table that will attack the opponent or defend against the opponents creatures. Some of the creatures have special abilities, such as flying which means that the creature cannot be blocked by a non-flying creature.
That is the game at it’s most simple, although I am sure that you can imagine that the game can become far more complex. This is mostly down to the collectible side of things and the huge number of different cards that are available to buy. The game has been going for quite some time now and new cards are released regularly, allowing players to not only spend huge amounts of money, but also create their own custom decks with which to do battle. This opens up a huge amount of possibility for players to adjust their tactics and throw other players off guard.
Duels of the PlanesWalkers offers the same experience as the actual card game, but only in part. The campaign mode will see the player working through battles with different “PlanesWalkers” that gradually become more difficult. This is down to the decks that they use becoming more and more complex and powerful. As the player beats one of these PlanesWalkers, they will gain access to that opponents deck and they can unlock extra cards for the deck through rechallenging and winning again.
The campaign will keep Magic players busy for a while, but there is also the chance to play online in a number of different modes against real-life opponents, which is really nice. The modes can see up to four players competing.
I have mentioned that Duels of the PlanesWalkers only offers part of the experience of the card game. This is because, although the actual games are pretty much identical, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the card game is the creating and customising of the player’s deck. Within this game players are able to unlock new ready-built decks and learn how to use them, but creating your own deck is not a possibility. It is for this reason that I think many Magic fans will be disappointed. However, by sticking with the ready-built decks, the game keeps everything even and puts each player on a level playing field.
The selection of cards available in these decks is quite good and allows for a huge number of different strategies to be employed. This is enhanced even further by DLC which offers up new decks and new opponents in the single player campaign. There are quite a number available and players will be able to choose one that appeals to them. Also from the DLC, the player can purchase new tables on which to play, new backgrounds and new pictures to represent the player. Whilst this is all only cosmetic, anything extra is nice.
Magic The Gathering: Duels of the PlanesWalkers offers nothing new over the Xbox360 version of the game, other than the chance for PS3 players to join the fun. Without the deck customisation options, many fans of the game will initially find Duels of the PlanesWalkers to be lacking. But for new players and those experts who are willing to overlook this issue, the game offers a nice introduction to Magic and maybe the chance to try out some different tactics. Certainly worth checking out for Magic fans, card game lovers and those looking to learn something new.