Stainless Games really has done a superb job making Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. It controls and plays as well as I could ever hope. The visual style is clean, the controls are quick to learn, and the game functions nearly perfectly. The biggest problem, and it is a HUGE one, is that it has almost no customization when it comes to creating a deck.
For those of you not familiar with Magic: The Gathering, it is a pretty simple fantasy-themed STRATEGY collectible card game at its core. Each player has a deck consisting of different types of cards: mana, creatures, and spells. The player uses mana as a resource to “summon” a creature or cast a spell with the goal of damaging the other player to get their life down to zero. The reason such a simple idea has attracted so many players and survived for so many years is because of the massive customization involved in making a deck.
I will say that the game does have a pretty decent variety of preconstructed decks, and those are great and necessary. Magic 2012 still has unlockable cards for each deck but it also has the ability to remove unwanted cards from the deck. The customization stops there. If the developer doesn’t want certain cards to be played together, the player can’t put them in the same deck. The strategy of Magic comes in making a deck and not just using somebody else’s. This complete lack of deck creation makes the multiplayer component completely boring and a waste of time.
The single player, however, is a lot of fun. I hadn’t played a game of Magic in years. The controls of Magic 2012 were easy to pick up and the game features plenty of older cards that I remember along with a whole slew of new cards as well as totally new creature abilities that I had never heard of. Luckily, the game has a feature that allowed me to pause the timer whenever something happened that I didn’t know could happen.
One of the other things that tripped me up at first is that the game will only allow certain abilities to be played in a certain order or at a certain time. Say I wanted to do A then B then C, the game wanted me to do A then C then B. Both ways would be possible in a normal game of Magic, it was just the way was programmed. In reality this isn’t an issue at all and it only threw me off at first because it was just a different order than I was used to playing.
I have played through all of the single player and a handful of multiplayer matches to check it out. I am very pleased with everything that is actually in the game. Where the previous title was riddled with bugs, I have yet to find a single one in Magic 2012. At the end of the day, this game is a great way for people to experience and play Magic: The Gathering, newcomers and veterans alike. The biggest problem, as stated before, is the utter lack of customization and deck making. Magic 2012 offers an extremely stable framework that is just begging to be expanded into a full fledged Magic titles that could include thousands of the already existing Magic cards and could host a flourishing online competitive community.