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[PS3 Review] Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers

Ignite your spark with Magic 2014 — Duels of the Planeswalkers!
With over 12 million fans, discover what makes Magic: The Gathering the world’s premier trading card game.
Become a Planeswalker and travel the planes of existence unleashing a torrent of spells and creatures to devastate your opponents. Prove yourself in combat against Chandra Nalaar—a fiercely independent Planeswalker with an affinity for fire and quick temper—then battle your way through the planes to face the mysterious villain trying to pull Chandra’s strings.

Explore the rich storyline of Magic 2014 and fire up your game:
• The best way to learn to play Magic: A detailed tutorial makes it easy to get started.
• Deck building: Open virtual booster packs of Magic cards to build decks and battle in single-player and multiplayer modes.
• Hours of game play: Discover 10 new decks, each with many new cards to unlock, plus campaigns to complete, encounters to overcome, and challenges to decipher.

For those unfamiliar with it, Magic: The Gathering it is a trading card game that has existed for over 20 years. In 2009, the first of the “Duels of the Planeswalkers” Magic games was released digitally for consoles. Since then, there has been a new annual release that improve on the game play elements from year to year.

The big change this year is the new sealed deck campaign mode. This mode starts with you opening a bunch of booster packs and seeing what cards are available to you. From there, you can sort them into a deck of your choosing, and there is also an auto-deck builder option if you are not creative enough to build your own. I tried it a few times and it constructed some decent decks for me, making it a great tool for beginners. Once you assemble your deck you take into the Sealed Deck Campaign mode which is essentially 6 battles against different Planeswalkers. Along the way, you will unlock more booster packs so you can adjust your deck and make it more powerful.

This is what I can only hope is the beginning of a great mode in future games as I can see the value in it. It reminded me from when I was younger, attempting to put the perfect deck together. That being said, this mode has it’s limitations as there are only 6 battles, and then the campaign is over. I also felt that it was difficult to make a great deck with the given cards, but your opponents seem to have a very well put together deck. This can make getting through the campaign very difficult. You start with 2 slots to make custom decks, but you can purchase additional slots from the PSN Store, which could be an interesting idea if they go with a free to play model for future years. You could start with your base cards, then purchase booster packs as needed, and perhapds it could Also create an online trading system with other players to get the cards you need.

The campaign mode this year sees you as a Planeswalker helping Chandra Nalaar track down Ramaz, her nemesis. There is a very loose story here basically there just for connecting the duels. There are multiple worlds and each world has 4 battles, and once you beat the fourth battle you can move onto the next world. You will also start unlocking different decks for play. The decks that are unlocked are pretty good and I did end up developing a favorite white deck – Avacyn’s Glory. At one point, I had 44 creatures on the board with it and caused over 400 damage to the other player. Once you have completed all of campaign mode you will end up unlockin the Revenge Campaign mode which is essentially a run to fight all 10 Planeswalkers with harder variations of their decks.

I wish there was a better story putting these battles together. The cut scenes the game does provide make it seem much older than it actually is. They could potentially make something very special here if more effort was put into it. There have been strong stories told in the “Magic” Universe, and I would love to see them capitalize on this. Also, there seemed to be some very interesting decks that I played against but they do not unlock for you after you played them, and it would be great to see all decks unlock after being played. There was one unique battle that saw you play against an opponent that has only 10 life; however you only have 9 turns to win. I liked the pressure that was put on and how it forced me to play differently. I would love to see more unique challenges like this in the campaign mode.

Challenge mode returns this year with 10 challenges requiring you to win on your turn under different scenarios, which is Very similar to last year. Overall I found the first 7 were very easy, the next two difficult and the last one made my brain hurt. There are probably hundreds of scenarios that could be provided and there definitely is potential here for more.

The online mode was very fun, and this is where I got most of my enjoyment since you can play with the regular decks or the sealed ones. There is also a “2 Headed Giant” Mode where 4 players battle two on two and share a life bar. I found it easy to get an opponents to play and the connection was great. This mode also supports the PlayStation Eye so that you can see your opponents.

While playing the game you do unlock different personas and titles which can be applied to your profile, and tt gives different goals to strive for which makes you to play with different decks and styles to unlock them.

The trophies this year are disappointing. Year-over-year there have been fewer trophies put into each version, and this year only has 15 trophies total. Also, the trophy choices are odd since there is a trophy for completing the first “Challenge” but not one for when you solve all 10. Also, you receive a trophy for beating the campaign mode, but nothing for beating the more difficult “Revenge” Campaign mode. There were many opportunities to put some meaningful trophies to help extend the life of the game but they were not utilized.

Overall as I have said throughout the review, I see a lot of untapped potential. I’m not sure if a longer development cycle is the right answer or a free to play model is the way to go. I hope that it does not get stuck in the rut that most annualized sports games get into. If you haven’t purchased any versions of Magic prior to this and want to give it a try then this is the game for you. If you have last year’s release, you will need to think hard about the cost as well as if the new “Sealed” mode is worth it.

[review pros=”Good Gameplay

Online Mode Works Great” cons=”Very Similar to last year.

Campaigns are too short

Not enough trophies
” score=75]

Cost: $9.99

PS3 Game size: 950mb

You can purchase Magic 2014 — Duels of the Planeswalkers from the PSN store


This review is based off of a PS3 copy bought by the reviewer. Game developed by Stainless Games.