The lights are on
I started my love affair with magic some 15+ years ago, with waxing and waning waves of interest during different times of my life. As I entered my adult life, MtG became a a late night fall back to be indulged with like minded friends that still cared enough to sling a few spells. As families and distance separated me from more and more of my nerdy brethren, i feared the past time finished. With this understanding, know that if not for my 360, this would indeed be the case, but now after the A.M. has rolled around and my buddies are done with their MW3 or whatever, a few of us will inevitably find ourselves knocking out a couple of hands before powering down. It is from this rekindled nightly experience that I draw my love for the digital incarnations of MtG, though it is with a heavy heart that I must dissuade my fellow gamers from partaking in the bevy if blah 2013 has to offer.
When the original debuted on the arcade, we were blown away. I realize that Magic online is the proffered experience of many of my fellow digital spellslingers, but none of my friends game on PC, and be default, with only the rest of you freaks to game with, I have adopted the 360 as my prefferential gaming system. While we loved the opportunity to go hand-to-hand again, th inability to remove less desirable cards from your deck severely limited our appreciation of the system. 2012 saw this problem addressed, but there was still the issue of your inability to choose how you tap your mana. For instance, you have 2 swamps and a mountain., a terror and a shock. If you cast the terror first, the game was as likely to tap you mountainto help pay for the terror and leave mana which can not be spent on your remaining cards, such as a swamp for a shock. 2013 adresses this situation, but what is the point if you only have 1 deck of 9 which can even utilize this astounding mechanic?
While this new version offers 10 new decks to fiddle with for $10, a better bargain than the expansions for previous versions that would only afford you 2 new decks for about $5, I still recommend this latest version, but the monochrome conundrum is not the only problem. The entire game can be described as sluggish. I don't understand the disconnect, but 2013 just does not respond to my touch the same way I came to expect 2012 to. You do have a bit more control when trying to select a card that is attached to another, such as an enchantment or an armor, do to individual stacks spread when selected, which is very nice, actually, but as with removing crappy cards and tapping mana correctly, this feature feels late to the game, as these mechanics should have been I place I the first game.
When I play 2013, and I win a match, the victories are soured by another feature that I feel is a real step backwards for the franchise. Game Informer clued me into a gaming concept that I have been ever vigilant to identify if encountered... Artificially Extended Gameplay. In other games, this can mean having to run back through maps over and over, but here I am using it to describe the procedure through which you unlock new cards. 30 in all to unlock for each deck, more than previous versions for day 1, as other versions allowed you to unlock additional cards for the core decks through the purchase of expansions, but this lofty number is brought low by the fact that you no longer unlock duplicates at the same time. Coupled with the fact that many of the unlocks are measly commons, even sets of commons that you will have to unlock, and you can see a potential burnout factor build along the way to the 300 victories needed to have acces to all this game has to offer.
A few other nagging problems persist across the series that still need to be addressed. First, I want to take mana out of my deck, especially when I am forced have 25 mana in a single color deck, which leads me to the suspicion that this game just can not shuffle right, but I can't prove that. Finally, how can you expect anyone to use the blue discard deck in ranked matches if your opponent can schlep 90 cards into a match? Sure, player matches, go nits, but I would like to see the traditional 60-card standard applied to ranked matches, even if it seems kinda fascist.
Well ther you have it, my love, my hate, but in the end it is just my opinion. I have fun playing all of the versions, though I have friends who are reluctant to leave behind the systems and decks that work for them, and I can not blame them. I agree with the GI review that this is the weakest link, and that is unfortunate as the series shows to be striding arrogantly forward with sloppy controls, neutered decks, and a shuffling demon that delights in flooding my hands with useless mana.