Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers (Video Game Review)
Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers features a brand new storyline featuring familiar characters and fresh faces alike. Players are immediately thrust into the game's new storyline upon loading the game for the first time. The highly popular character and Planeswalker Chandra Nalaar greets the players and warns of a dangerous new foe that has appeared and is threatening to destroy the entire Multiverse. As a Planeswalker, the player will need to travel between worlds seeking powerful artifacts from each in order to succeed in a battle with this new enemy. Each world will require the player to do battle with lesser enemies to gain knowledge on the Planeswalker of the world in order to challenge them and win the important item, and each world will correspond with a different Plane of existence taken from Magic: The Gathering's mythology including Innistrad and Ravnica. Each new chapter in the game offers up a new cutscene that is fully voice acted and animated to bring the characters in the game to life like never before in the Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers series, and of course, there are plenty of new decks to unlock and new characters representing each of the game's unlockable decks to boot. Storyline has never been a vital component of what makes this series so great, but it's safe to say that Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers features the best narrative yet that will keep players pushing towards the end goal rather than simply wanting to collect more cards.
At first glance, Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers won't seem very different from last year's Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. While the game does feature new characters and deck for the game's main campaign, the storyline is still very much straightforward and linear. The game does feature some new Encounters as well as some that have been recycled for the new release with each building towards an eventual showdown with the Planeswalker of the particular realm with an important item to the campaign and a new, unlockable deck up for grabs. Encounters are still predetermined by the game to give the same experience every time played, which can be good for new players but a bore for veterans, but the easier encounters do offer the best way to unlock additional cards for unlocked decks. All of these features have been included in past versions of the game however, so the team behind the series has added the ability for players to further customize their own decks with any cards unlocked for the deck, including lands, removing many of the restrictions that have turned many players off to the game in past releases.
Luckily, the new features don't end there. Players can now head into Sealed Play to experience a completely different campaign that will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has participated in booster drafts with friends or at a local hobby shop. Six packs of non-randomized cards are unlocked here for players to create their first sealed play deck. This allows players to fully build fully customized decks with as many different colors, lands, spell types and other types of cards as the player wants with the one restriction of building decks that have at least 40 cards and less than 100 cards. Unlocking additional cards for sealed play works much like in the original campaign with certain matches unlocking nothing at all and others giving new packs of cards, only the card packs here are randomized with one rare or mythic card, three uncommon cards and ten common rarity cards. Sealed play in Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers is as close to playing the actual collectible card game in real life as possible but is obviously less costly, unless you'd like to spend currency to purchase additional in-game packs of cards. Finally, Magic: The Gathering fans have been given what they've begged for over recent years, and it's even easier to assemble and create new decks in Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers than in real life!
Of course, developer Stainless Games and Wizards of the Coast want to attract veteran players to their game without alienating newcomers looking to join the ranks of collectible card game fans at the same time, so there are plenty of tutorials included in Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers to ease players into the very intricate rules of the game. When first starting up the game, players will be asked how much experience they have with Magic: The Gathering with the game automatically setting the difficulty based on the player's response. The game's main campaign also features a skippable tutorial that introduces players to basic mechanics of the game including types of spells, how to attack and block and the various card abilities available in the game. Players will also receive additional help with in-game tips unless the setting is disabled. Creating a deck in Sealed Play is also made more simplistic by tools that rate a deck's strength based on several factors including colors used, types of cards included in the deck and each card's mana cost. All of this allows a player to quickly become familiarized with the game as a newcomer or receive a quick refresher for longtime fans.
In addition to the major changes made in Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers, the game still houses an abundance of new enhancements and tweaks that make this the best release in the series. The presentation has once again received several important aesthetic changes included a much improved loading screen that shows off player avatars and quickly jumps into matches. Deck Manager has been improved to let players easily sort a vast amount of cards to customize decks much faster than before. Decks can also be swapped without leaving deck manager for players that enjoy unlocking cards for more than one deck at a time. The Player Status screen has also been tweaked to include new Titles and Personas including many that are unlockable in campaigns and custom matches, and players can also check interesting statistics such as the highest life total attained in a match and most damage done in a turn here as well. Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers comes packed with a plethora of extra content too including character galleries and biographies where players can learn about their favorite Planeswalkers, a video gallery to rewatch important scenes from the game and some cool unlockables just for downloading a copy of the game. All of this is presented in a fine new overlay and plenty of first look cards taken from the upcoming Magic: The Gathering 2014 Core Set of cards scheduled to release later this Summer.
Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers offers the best way to learn how to play the collectible card game if you're looking to get into it for the first time ever and is the best way to play the game next to getting together with a group of your best friends, which is not always an easy option. Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers is flexible enough to offer something for newcomers and veterans of the series and includes a variety of game modes for local custom matches or online versus and cooperative matches. Players can duel one versus one, battle in free-for-all matches for up to four players or team up in two versus two matches. Plenty of options accompany each game type, though game types included in previous versions have been excluded for sealed play, versus matches and two-headed giant match types only. The introduction of many new features, including the most prominent sealed play game mode, makes Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers a must purchase for Magic: The Gathering fans and a title that is sure to be one of the most addictive downloadable titles of the Summer. Stay cool this Summer by downloading your copy of Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers today!
Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers is now available for PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade, PC via Steam, iOS, Android and Kindle. Magic 2014 -Duels of the Planeswalkers is rated T by the ESRB for Blood, Suggestive Themes & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers website.
Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade, PC (reviewed), iOS, Android & Kindle
Release Date: June 26, 2013