|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Stainless Games|
|Pub: Wizards of the Coast|
|Release: June 15, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violent References|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
I have a confession to make: I am a Magic: The Gathering newbie. Sure, I got the basics from some friends back in high school, and I've even participated in a few low-key matches. But when it comes to deck-building or playing in any kind of serious manner, I have no clue what's going on. However, I think people like me are exactly who Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is aimed at. The game is formatted in such a way that it courts gamers who have heard of Magic, but have been a bit intimidated to jump in full force. And on that front, this game is a total success.
Like anyone relatively new to a game, the first place I went to was the tutorial mode. While the tutorial wasn't as exhaustive as it could have been, it gave me a good handle on the basics and introduced me to the flow of the game. After an easily-won test match, I thought I was ready to launch headlong into the single-player mode. And then I got my butt handed to me. Over and over again. And on easy as well.
It wasn't one of my most proud moments as a gamer, but the A.I. was slick—even on easy—and I was forced to examine the intricacies of the game and devise a real strategy instead of just throwing cards around. This is one of the things that kept me so engrossed in the game. There's a certain type of gamer that may balk at the mere mention of playing a role-playing card game, but I would caution those people to think twice before writing this one off. Though the action is admittedly slow, if you are a fan of slow-building strategy and great A.I., Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 has what you need in spades.
Needless to say, I got myself pretty obsessed with Magic in fairly short order. The game's rules-based strategy is so simple to pick up, but the game's 10 different decks and special challenge modes offer enough variation that you'll keep finding reasons to get back into the game. The challenge modes in particular are really interesting, and put you in very specific situations with a set amount of life points. It'll be up to you to figure out how to use the cards you're given to get out of whatever diabolical situation the game has set forth for you. These challenge modes are particularly good for players like me who need to develop their own personal strategy, as they coach you through some of the game's more interesting intricacies.
There are three different single-player modes that advance in difficulty as you plow through each. Finishing different single-player modes will unlock new decks and special cards for you to use. Though it can be a bit of a pain if you are an advanced user, it is highly advisable that you complete all the single-player modes and challenges before jumping online so you can work with the best deck possible. However, the good news here is that the single-player mode is deep and very engaging. There is easily at least ten hours of gameplay in this mode alone, which is more than enough for a $10 game.
Like any good competitive game, Magic: The Gathering 2012 relies heavily on robust online offerings in order to keep the game fresh and interesting for those who consider themselves experts on all things Magic. There is a standard duel mode that allows you to face off one on one against an online opponent. However, if you want to make things interesting, there's a new co-op mode that allows several players to team up against one super-powerful enemy. There is also a split-screen co-op offering if you want to team up with someone locally and take on another team of two online. Though I didn't spend a whole lot of time with the multiplayer offerings (I am a self-described n00b, after all) I'm sure that those who are more experienced will have plenty of fun online.