Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015Overview -
'Magic: The Gathering' was released in 1993 by hobby company Wizards of the Coast after being developed mostly by just one guy, a student named Richard Garfield. It was so popular at the beginning that Wizards had to curb their advertising because they could not keep up with demand. It is a collectible card game (CCG) with a fantasy theme and rules that have become more complex as the game churns out expansion packs. The most important rule is that any card can freely break the fundamental game rules.
Stainless Games developed the first 'Duels of the Planeswalkers' in 2009 and its release on the Xbox Live service quickly broke sales records. It has since released a new edition every year, generally with a price point of $10 and, increasingly, DLC and paid deck unlocks.
For an inexpensive video game based on a turn-based card game, 'Magic 2015' looks pretty good. Card art is rendered perfectly from the paper version. There are animated effects for many card mechanics, offering a bit of dramatic flair for what otherwise be a visually dry exchange. Besides the aforementioned framerate problem, the presentation is clean and efficient. There are also a few cinematic cutscenes during the campaign, but these are short and not of a particularly high quality.
Most of the music for 'Magic 2015' is not very inspired. It’s a kind of epic fantasy elevator music. It’s most audible at the menu, and diminishes during matches. Sound effects are a bit more resonate, with lots of slices and crunches and sorcery during each game to spice up card actions. There is precious little voice acting, most often heard in the bland cutscenes during the campaign. The tutorial’s narrator is very chipper, at least.
'Magic 2015' is frustrating not because it’s bad, but because it is so close to being so good. It takes a step forward with the deck builder and two steps back with its cumbersome interface and lack of engaging gametypes for both single and multiplayer. The pay-to-win model has not taken over just yet, but it is creeping steadily closer. If you have enjoyed previous versions of 'Duels of the Planeswalkers' and are a serious 'Magic' fan, it’s not a bad play. If you are a newcomer to the series, consider the 2013 or 2014 edition instead.
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