Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers
Duels of the Planeswalkers is an expanded re-release of Microprose's original Magic: The Gathering game for the PC. Featured in this release are 400 cards from the Fourth Edition set, plus 80 new cards from the Legends and The Dark card sets. This release also features the introduction of Manalink, the new online matchmaking software for use with the TEN gaming network. If you already own the original Magic: The Gathering for PC, then you can get a $15 rebate when you purchase this expansion.
Duels of the Planeswalkers (DOTP for short) is really two games in one. Microprose has finally shored up the Internet matchmaking capabilities for this title, something that players have been wanting for some time. Let's face it: Magic: The Gathering was made for human-to-human combat. You get the most challenge, and hopefully the most satisfaction, by dueling your friends or competing in tournaments. The original release of this game left a lot to be desired in this area, but happily, DOTP offers the kind of support that gamers have been waiting for.
With that said, there is a single-player game here, and I must commend Microprose for accomplishing what I thought impossible -- making a successful single-player experience out of Magic: The Gathering. In the single-player game, your character moves around a map of cities and works to free the world of Shandalar from the oppression of the five Wizards. You do this by dueling the various creatures of the land and, eventually, dueling and defeating the Wizards themselves. Sounds kinda dull, perhaps, but the way it is presented makes it work. Your character can buy and sell cards in the various cities, and can complete simple quests to earn Manalinks (which give you extra life for your next duel). I spent almost as much time playing the single-player game as dueling online against real foes, and that should tell you that this is a versatile and solid gaming package.
The only real issues I had with this game were with the single-player mode. While it was fun to move around the map and duel monsters and go on quests, I did not like the fact that there were many times when I had no choice but to duel. For instance, I'd be walking towards a city to replenish my food, and a Vampire Lord would attack me from nowhere, leading to a duel. In most games you can run away if fighting is not on your agenda at the moment, but here, once a monster touches you, you must duel it -- meaning that you could potentially lose a valuable card for simply running into a monster. The other problem with this is that often you need to get your character from point A to point B in a hurry to stop some creature from attacking a town. But it's virtually impossible to move more than thirty paces without running into -- and dueling -- a monster. This means that by the time you get to point B, it's almost always too late for you to help.
One of the areas that wasn't really changed a lot in this release were the graphics. Then again, not much needed to be changed. After all, this really amounts to a sophisticated card game, and so there's no need for 3Dfx, super-polygon special effects or anything. You have the basic crisp SVGA rendering here. The cards are shown in all their glory, except that sometimes you cannot read all of the text on a card (and therefore cannot fully understand a card's special abilities). But Microprose did the right thing by making the card game itself the star of the show here. Any extra glitz would have just come across as superficial and annoying.
Since Magic: The Gathering is a card game, there wasn't a big need for cool sound effects or a big-budget orchestrated score. The single-player game has sounds and music that fit well enough with the action, but the rest of the time you will probably not notice the sound aspect of this game too readily. That's the way it should be.
Duels of the Planeswalkers comes with the same thick manual as the original game (a wonderfully detailed accounting of the rules and nuances of the card game), as well as a supplemental guide for this release only, explaining the Manalink software and covering the new game features. Nothing is missing here.
Required: IBM PC 100MHz 80486DX/4 compatible or faster, 4X CD-ROM drive, Windows 95, 16 MB RAM or higher, Super VGA graphics for 640 x 480 x 256 colors
Reviewed on: Pentium 2-266, 64 MB RAM, 16X CD-ROM drive, Diamond Stealth 2000 video card
Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers is an excellent PC translation of the popular card game. This release features many additions and improved multiplayer support, finally fulfilling the potential of the original game. If you enjoy playing the card game and have been considering a purchase of a PC version, this is the one you want. If you are curious about the card game itself and want a basic introduction, go to your local game dealer and buy a starter kit for the card game, then sit down with a friend one night to try it out. That way you'll only spend $10-20, and you'll get to see Magic the way it was meant to be played.
Download Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP