Okay, I admit it, this review was supposed to be up a few days ago, but I was not about to let a computer beat me at a game I played numerous times as a 16 year old kid in upstate New York. Be it pride, or the refusal to admit that I might just suck after not playing for so many years. Whatever it was, I could not rest until Ramaz was defeated, and all was right in the realms of the Planeswalkers.
Magic: The Gathering 2014 is the latest installment of the popular Magic: The Gathering series released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, iPad, Android, and Steam. In this installment the player’s course is narrated by Chandra Nalaar, a Planeswalker herself as together the both of you work to take down Ramaz, a Planeswalker that had manipulated Chandra into stealing the Dragon Scroll.
Magic: The Gathering 2014 uses the same rules and gameplay featured in the physical card game it’s modeled after, and is equally as challenging. The team at Stainless brought some polish to the game this time around as well, starting with the graphics, Magic: The Gathering 2014 definitely has a more polished look than the previous installments, and features brief cinematics to aid in telling the story, a definite improvement over the motion comic style found in MTG: 2013. While still keeping the same encounter format, MTG: 2014 expands on it by giving players the ability to duel the Planeswalkers from the Duel of the Planeswalker and unlock their individual decks, and trust me when I say, every deck is needed.
One thing I had to quickly get over, was my allegiance to playing a red and green deck, players going through the single player campaign mode are not given many options for a deck when the game first starts, and only through winning duels, and completing chapters are players able to gain additional card and additional decks. While limited in the type of decks available, players do have the ability to edit the existing decks received throughout the campaign, by swapping cards won in and out of the current deck, decks can also be fully unlocked by purchasing keys from the online marketplace.
One thing I have always enjoyed about Magic: The Gathering on a console is the fact that Wizards of the Coast goes out of their way with each installment to make sure the game plays on the console, exactly as it does when playing the tabletop version, and if there’s one thing that the teams at Wizards of the Coast, and Stainless games want you to remember, it’s the fact that there are Magic tabletop games going on everywhere, loading screens feature links to the MTG website where players can find tournaments at local hobby stores.
I’ve saved the best feature of Magic: The Gathering 2014 for the last part of this review, because, well, it’s epic. MTG 2014 introduces players to a new game style, that of the Sealed Play. This feature brings players as close to the real experience of table top MTG as they are going to get. The sealed deck option presents players with five unopened booster packs to start, additional booster packs are provided as the player moves through the campaign. The unopened booster packs provide players with the realistic experience of sorting through cards to build various decks, players can then name their decks, as well as choose box art for the deck. As players go through and build or edit their deck, they can see the immediate impact of their editing via the deck strength meter on the editing screen, upon completion players can test their deck in a scenario, or throw caution to the wind and dive right into a duel with one of the Planeswalkers. Players can create additional decks by purchasing additional deck slots from the online marketplace.
Old favorites are back in this installment as well, players can engage in challenges, where strategy is encouraged as players have one turn to overcome their opponent, something I repeatedly failed horribly at, but again, that’s what I get for not playing for so long. For players looking to rub their opponents face in defeat again, the available Revenge campaign provides new challenges from familiar faces, and for those looking for the feel of the tabletop game, there is always multiplayer, although not being able to see your opponent’s may be a bit of a hinder.
Overall Wizards of the Coast has brought fans a Magic: The Gathering game that is just as challenging and exciting to play as the tabletop version, with updated graphics, and a compelling campaign story, this Magic release had me gripping my control tightly as I watched my own HP and my opponent’s HP deplete with each turn, each loss sent me back to the deck manager as I furiously ran through scenarios in my head, trying to stay one step ahead of my opponent, each victory was hard fought, and sometimes won in surprising ways. Magic: The Gathering 2014 is perfect for those who are just getting in to the game, as the tutorial does a great job of explaining the phases of each turn, as well as giving hints as to what card to play. Not only does the game welcome new players, but seasoned vets will find challenge as well, and if you can’t get to a Magic game night, then you’ll have it right on your console, Magic The Gathering 2014 is definitely worth the pick up, and has earned every one of it’s 10 buttered pieces of toast!
Magic: The Gathering 2014 is available now for Xbox 360,PS3, Android, iPad and Steam.
For those interested in finding a community game night near you check out www.wizard.com/locator