Home > Video Games (Main) > Magic: The Gathering, Xbox 360 Revisited

Magic: The Gathering, Xbox 360 Revisited

After moving into my new place last week and having Comcast plant its bureaucratical dick in my ass with services not working properly and long waits for installation, I’ve now gone exactly 10 days without Internet access save for my time at work.  It’s shocking how bored I am without it.  It did however give me plenty of time to sink my teeth even further into MTG:  Duels of the Planeswalkers on Xbox Live Arcade.

The game really is one of the best (THE best?) bargains on XBLA.  For $10 you obviously get to play Magic against other people that love the game, either in player matches or ranked matches.  You also have a 1P campaign mode that allows you to play through 16 levels against the computer and unlock 15-17 cards for each of the 9 available premade decks.  Also included are limited versions of 4-player matches and 2v2 matches.  These currently aren’t available to join up with a friend online which is a shame but something tells me it will be fixed in the near future.  Lastly, a Challenge mode allows you to be thrown into in-game situations where you have one turn to figure out how to coordinate the available cards at the right time.  There are 8 of these challenges and when you put your mind to them they can be beaten in a matter of days but it’s a great addition and one that the developers obviously didn’t HAVE to include in a game at this price point.

The in-game experience is true to the physical card game and your turn proceeds pretty much as you’d expect in a virtual interpretation without hardly any hitches at all.  At some point it becomes a bit tiresome waiting for the timer to run down after every single thing that happens throughout the course of a turn but you have to remember the game has so many cards that can be played at so many different times this is an absolute necessity. 

As mentioned the game comes with 9 premade decks, with only two available at the onset.  You don’t have access to any cards that aren’t available in the decks or that aren’t unlockable, however you have to keep in mind the context of this version of Magic.  Its purpose is not to eliminate the paper card game or the online version thereof, but to provide an easily accessible representation for Xbox 360 owners that stays true to the game enough to interest veterans as well.  I would say overall this was accomplished very well.  You have a great number of modes and enough cards/decks to keep people busy for a long time (I’ve logged dozens and dozens of hours in the 3 weeks or so the game has been out). 

For someone like me that is familiar with Magic from years ago but wouldn’t consider myself  “hardcore” this is a must-buy.  If you’re entirely new to the game but always wanted to try it (but didn’t have a friend to show you the ropes), the game has you covered as well.  There is a built-in tutorial mode that teaches you fairly well and if you feel like jumping right into things the game makes sure any time a card with a specific trait is played a small pop-up explains what it can do (this can also be turned off at the press of a button).

I would say the only people that this game wouldn’t appeal to would be hardcore Magic veterans that know most of the thousands of cards off the top of their head and can build their own decks without having to reference any Magic-related sources.  The only other group is possibly people that have no interest in trying the game whatsoever, although I would argue maybe 50% of those people would end up enjoying the game if they gave it a shot (if you’ve ever been interested in any kind of strategy game you’ll love it).

If I had to make a general statement I would say at least 8 out of 10 people that are familiar with Xbox Live would enjoy this game.  That’s a hefty endorsement I know but I truly believe unless you’ve played the physical card game to death already or you’re just not a fan of strategy it’s $10 very, very well spent.

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