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Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds Review

Gather your magic skills it's time to head to the battlegrounds and fight.


Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 8th December 2003

Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds

  • Developer: Secret Level
  • Publisher: Atari
  • Release Date: 21st November 2003

Think of a beat ‘em up, take away the violence and throw a little magic into the mix and you’re left with Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds. Based on the card game Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds pit’s the mighty magically acclaimed duellers against each other in an unreal fantasy style battle of wits and well, magic!

The game features a number of modes of play including quest, arcade, multiplayer and quick battle, Quest mode takes players through a set number of quests based around learning new spells and defence techniques for battle. This tends to grow tiresome very quickly however as it seems that the enemy AI are either programmed to win or lose and the battle really isn’t a battle at all. Other modes such as arcade and quick battle allow players to let lose with their powers in more even matched battles.

At the beginning of each battle players get to choose a character to use, the duelling pair is then placed in a battlefield consisting of two halves and should a character wonder into the oppositions half he or she will take damage depending on how long they stay there. Before the battle commences players must power up their characters by collecting the little magna crystals that appear on the field, thankfully these continue to appear during the fight so you’re never really left with no power.

All of the action naturally is in the spells and these are colour coded into categories ranging from Sorcery, Creature and Enhancement. Sorcery spells gives players certain powers such as enhancing strength, weakening all creatures on the field or transferring life from one creature to you. Creature spells allow you to summon creatures such as goblins, elves and other such allies that in turn attack your opposition and Enhancement gives the ability to add enhancements such as speed and strength to your creatures.

The bulk of the battles are played with the spell book and I personally found that by casting the same spell over and over again you could quickly weaken your opponent and ultimately win the battle (if you get lucky!) however the better and more interesting way to play is to use strategy. Strategy plays a major part in how you handle the spells and how the battle takes form, summoning one creature for instance will 9 times out of 10 result in your opponent summoning a creature in order to kill it making the move pointless. Summoning 3 or 4 creatures however, allows one creature to attack the duellist whilst the others either add their muscle or take care of whatever creatures the duellist summons in return. Adding enchantments onto your creatures naturally gives them that special edge and the to whilst your opponents are busy dealing with that use a touch of sorcery and set the nearest one on fire.

The controls are pretty easy to work and the game is nicely set out and presented. Spells have their own disciplines adding to the strategic effort of the game and balance must be struck between defence and attack in what usually turns out to be fast paced, furious battles. Of course with the creatures and other spells you can cast there is always a chance that an opposition creature may get through its handy then that your dueller is not completely useless in the fighting department like most magical characters in games. Armed with a sword your dueller can take swings at approaching creatures and weaken or kill them depending on their strength meaning you don’t always have to rely on the spells you have cast to keep you going.

Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds features sharp and nicely textured graphics with some brilliant special effects. Characters and creatures all look distinctive and are animated quite well and environments are nicely detailed and varied. The games audio is also pretty good giving power to the special effects and helping to create the unreal fantasy environment.

Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds provides fast, action packed, magic based beat ‘em up and should appeal to those who like to plan their moves based on strategy and timing. It will also appeal to those who just like an alternative to a standard beat ‘em up. The single player mode is a bit weak but played with friends or over the internet this game should keep fans of the genre amused for a while at least.

Review Score: 7.6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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