Going in to this review, I'll admit I was prepared to be disappointed by non-asynchronous play. I had read about the game features and noticed that the online matches were real time. .. I'm a big fan of async for the freedom it allows in scheduling gaming especially on iOS, so I thought this would be a problem. I was also prepared to be confused by the controls after having looked at some early screen shots and seeing arrows and colors and cards all over the place. (Hint: I was wrong on both) On the positive side, I was pretty sure I'd see some great artwork – I've always loved the amazing art on the Magic the Gathering games. Beyond that I pretty much had an open mind and was eager to get started.
I've played the PS3 version (full version) and the iPad version (demo). Other options include XBOX 360 and Steam for PC. I can safely say that my expectations were very much exceeded. So far, I don't mind the lack of async play and while I had a little trouble with PS3 controls, the game play itself is NOT confusing. So my assumptions were proven unfounded. In addition, I was right about the art. The artwork in the game look as good as I expected and I appreciate the inclusion of the artist's names on each painting.
My confusion on with the PS3 controller is mainly my own fault – I keep wanting to use the up, down, left, right buttons instead of the left joystick to scroll through the cards. It's a nit but I can't tell you how many times I switched views (because that's what happens when you press the buttons) when trying to scroll through my cards. On the flip side, the iPad experience is great since it feels more like the card game. There's no scrolling through cards with the joystick, you just tap on the one you want to view or drag it to the playing field to cast. Very natural. Very easy.
Entertainment Value 5/5
I really like it so far. I haven't played through the entire campaign mode yet but I've defeated a number of enemies and have gained extra cards for my deck. The computer campaign opponents are challenging enough to make it fun but not impossible. I selected the medium difficulty level since it has been a while since I played Magic. I'm sure the expert level will be more difficult if and when i play back through. I have barely scratched the surface of the online game play but that appears to be fun as well. Have you tried it? Priced at $9.99 for the full version, it's bit more than the average iOS game but it appears to be worth it.
For the iPad version I could give this a 5/5 since it is very intuitive but for the PS3 getting used to the controller was a little more difficult. Playing on the PS3 feels a little more restrictive but that seems natural given that one is a touch interface and one uses a controller.
Likelihood of Replay 5/5
I'm currently hooked. There are only a handful of games that I play on a regular basis and this one has just pushed its way to the top. I look forward to building out and customizing my deck and continuing in to online game play.
Amazing graphics. Especially the illustrations/paintings. The design of the interface used during the game play is such that you can tell who is attacking, what they are attacking and what spells affect what. The color coding is really easy to get used to. Sound effects work great. It is all very well done.
GO GET IT. This game, especially the iPad version, really is a lot of fun. If you are a fan of the collectable card game genre and just can't get enough, give this version of Magic the Gathering a look. The demos are free and give you a good sense of the game play. For $9.99 you can upgrade your favorite platform to the full version. Other than the space required (iTunes says the iPad version is 999MB), there is a low (FREE) entry fee. Give it a go and see if you like it. The game is available on PS3, XBox 360, Steam and iPad.
Get the iPad version here