If you’re not familiar with Magic: The Gathering – Dules of the Planeswalkers 2012 (M:TG) allow me to quickly bring you up to speed. You have a deck of cards which you draw from on your turn, including land cards which represent your mana and which you spend to summon creatures and to cast spells. The aim of the game is to reduce your opponent/s life points to zero. These basics as well as that of gameplay are explained to you via an in-game tutorial which, thankfully, isn’t mandatory but is robust enough to bring a new player to the point where they can play a game. Additionally there are a collection of challenges that will help you think more tactically in how you play and how to better use abilities, these are unlocked while you play providing further opponunities to hone you skills.
M:TG uses the same illustrations as the cards do in real life, which means the artwork is superb. The loading screens also feature larger pieces done in a similar style. The arenas, though, are quite basic and while it’s understandable that they didn’t want to draw attention away from the cards themselves - which are the main focal point of the game - a variety of tabletops would have been appreciated. While the art is nice it does feel quite flat and while this may appeal to the purists, I’d not be opposed to seeing 3D models of the cards as I played them. A nice touch is how the main menus look like physical packs of cards that you’d buy from a shop. Attacks and spells have small animations that aren’t spectacular enough to be either distracting or gripping and I did turn these off.
The campaign sees you firstly tackling 1-on-1 duels against the computer, which are the bread and butter of M:TG and a good way to try out different decks of cards. You’re also able to battle Archenemies, these fearsome opponents will be tackling you and either two friends or computer controlled allies. To prevent this from being an unfair, one-sided fight the lone opponent has access to powerful cards that are played every turn and range from dealing damage to creating seven small creatures for the Archenemy. This variant is enjoyable and can lead to some tense battles especially if you - the last member of your team still standing - manage to pluck victory from the jaws of defeat. You can also play several custom games from two verses two to four-way free for alls. These game modes prevent M:TG from becoming stale quite as quickly as it may do if it was only 1-on-1 duels.
The controls on the PC are intuitive and what you would expect. You can control everything through the mouse and you’re able to quickly zoom in on cards to see what effects they have and admire the art work. There’s also a useful guide button that’ll explain the abilities of each card if you forget or want to see how it works.
The game did have a tendency to slow down and become slightly unresponsive when I was playing with a large number of cards on the table, over 30, which isn’t a major concern as having that number of cards was because I was trying to stress the game. Also of some concern was the fact that occasionally if I wanted to use an ability, the computer would see I couldn’t lay any cards and swapped to the next player before I could use the ability I desired. The lack of an ability to build a deck from the ground up caused me some unhappiness but the available decks are wide enough in variety that you can find one to match your play style.
If you’re a fan of Magic: the Gathering and want to play it but don’t have anyone to play with, this is the game for you, it’s also in all probabilities cheaper than buying the physical version of the cards would be, which makes this a bargain.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platform: PC/XBLA/PSN Release Date: 15/06/11
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer community member DangerousBobby bought a digital copy of Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.