Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers

It’s time to fully embrace your inner geek as you get your Magic on.

It’s time to fully embrace your inner geek as you get your Magic on. It’s hard to keep a game interesting when you release an updated version every year, but a plethora of updates and new features show that Stainless Games are not getting complacent.

Magic is an insanely popular card game in the real world. It involves building an army of creatures with assorted skills to protect yourself and take down the opposition. Flyers can soar over the heads of those on the ground, some heal their owner, and all take some careful planning if you’re to be successful. A huge of array of spells, enchantments, creatures, and land cards can be used as you furiously battle in some turn-based strategy brawls.

Magic 2014 has clearly had some more polish added. Graphically, it won’t be winning any awards any time soon but within its limited scope huge improvements have been made to the play area and to animations that appear on selected cards. The multiplayer works flawlessly, a far cry from where it began, and even the menu system just seems tidier.

This year’s campaign has the most complete narrative yet with a clear mission being proposed to you when you start. Cut-scenes and text appear after each bout guiding you to complete your task. Chandra requires some assistance and as you battle, you assist her by providing items till you eventually take on her enemy in a two on one situation. The bulk of the campaign is reminiscent of last year’s outing with a smattering of battles appearing in-between encounters.

The encounters mainly require you to get lucky with your cards and charge head-on before you get swamped but some have twists that make them far more varied than in previous years. An early spike in difficulty did sound alarm bells ringing but upon arriving at the second plane it eases back down in to a challenging but clearly sensible difficulty. Once the campaign is complete you will, as in 2013, unlock the revenge campaign: no encounters, just harder rematches against all your opponents.

The bottom line is that Magic remains simple to learn and complex to master.

The decks this year appear to have more personality whilst remaining very well balanced. Plenty of favourite cards have returned but there are enough new ones to keep the tactics fresh and the challenges new. The bottom line is that Magic remains simple to learn and complex to master.

Also included are the ever popular two-headed giant multiplayer option, in which you and a buddy take on a pair of foes, and the challenges, in which cards must be played in a particular order to solve a puzzle. Challenges certainly seem easier than in previous years because they’ve stopped being quite so picky about how you play your cards. The result is that they’re far more feasible for anyone who’s spent a sensible amount of time playing the title to complete. The frustrations of old certainly won’t be missed.

The most demanded improvement from the last few years is Sealed Mode. In Sealed Mode you are given a pile of virtual booster packs, which, once opened, allow you to construct your own deck. Cards are sorted for you by colour, and land can be added at your discretion. A meter allows the game to tell you what it thinks of your deck (my first attempt started at average but was quickly tweaked to be awesome). A mini campaign (six fights) allows you to test your deck in combat and win more booster packs to improve your card choices. Although the booster pack system is still more limiting than the free range many wanted it does keep the choice level sensible whilst giving you enough freedom to make what you want. For those who don’t wish to undergo such adventures the AI can make a deck out of your boosters for you, but where’s the fun in that?








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