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Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 Review

Greg Tito | 28 Jun 2011 21:00
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Playing against the Archenemy is a fun diversion. You can play as one of three teammates against an uber-opponent with twice the life and extremely powerful "scheme" cards that play each turn. Teaming up with a friend with local coop or online is cool to take down the big guys in the campaign to unlock more goodies, but random multiplayer Archenemy didn't hold my attention. Maybe that's because you never get to play as the Archenemy, but that could be my bully fantasy talking.

The Two-Headed Giant option is fun, though. This Magic variant has been around awhile, with two teammates sharing a turn and a life pool of 30. Matching up with people online is a lot like 2 vs. 2 in a game like Starcraft II, you could get a teammate that's really skilled or one that can drag you down so I wish there was a Two-Headed Giant campaign to go with the Archenemy one. Well, I guess that has expansion pack written all over it.

I'll play a random ranked match or two online when I feel jaunty, but I'm much more of a single player at heart so that's why I appreciated the advancement in the AI and the interspersed challenges in the campaign. Playing on the medium difficulty will certainly kick your ass and have you hitting the menu to restart the duel more than a few times once you get to the harder Planewalkers like Sorin Markov's damn vampire deck. The Archenemy campaign is even more brutal, and you need a combination of skill and luck to persevere, never mind the tough final match against Karn in the double-secret campaign called Revenge. The AI will make a boneheaded move or two, but, in general, is a worthy opponent.

The downfall for a game like Duels 2012 is that it only provides a taste of Magic without delivering the real fun of coming up with a concept and assembling a deck from many different parts. Crazy core fans might be enticed by the new cards previewed here that will appear in the 2012 set, but there is little else for them. The ease of play and the well-made interface is much more focused on the casual player, and if you always wanted to see what Magic was like, downloading Duels 2012 is a great place to start. Just hide your wallet before you go into the game store or you'll soon find yourself $200 poorer.

Bottom Line: The engine of the game hasn't changed, but the chrome is super-polished and new multiplayer modes are great new features.

Recommendation: If you've never heard of Magic, Duels 2012 is worth playing if you like games with equal parts strategy and luck. If you have heard of Magic, you should probably download this game unless you have 4 Black Lotuses up your sleeve already.

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Game: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform(s): PC, XBLA, PSN
Available from: Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network

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