Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds is a real time strategy game that was developed by Secret Level, Published by Atari, and was released on November 18, 2003.

Developer: Secret Level
Publisher: Atari
Release Date: November 18, 2003
Platforms: Xbox
JustRPG Score:
 80%
Pros:
+See your favorite Magic the Gathering cards come to life.
Cons:
-Odd gameplay mechanics.
-Feels nothing like the original card game which it is based on.
-Poor visuals.

Overview

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds Overview

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds is a real time strategy game that was released for the XBOX in late 2003. The game, unlike the card game which it is based on, is a real time strategy game that puts the player in the shoes of a powerful mage. In this game the player can summon cards and other spells to help them in battle against the opposing mage. Overall the game is nothing like the card game so if you are looking for your MTG fix, this game is not for you.

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds Screenshots

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds Featured Video

Full Review

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds Review

As many of us know, Magic: the Gathering is one of the coolest card games around. So, whenMagic: the Gathering Battlegrounds was announced, the fact that it was a fighting game may have caught many by surprise. How did the game survive the transition from card game to an Xbox fighter? Read on!

The game starts out explaining that you are a powerful wizard. Years ago three powerful duelists fought a great battle. A Talisman, which you now posses, was at the heart of their conflict. You realize your destiny and set out to find the Talisman’s 5 missing gems. In order to do so you have to fight your way through a variety of duelists, including powerful Legends from Magic: the Gathering, such as Arcanus the Omnipotent and Maraxus of Keld.

Gameplay in Battlegrounds is much like that of the card game…deep and addictive! You and your opponent face off in an arena with a line dividing it down the center. You may cross that line, but you’ll take some damage and you wont be able to cast spells while you’re over there. You begin with just a few simple spells, but as you progress you’ll unlock even more and will be able to build a powerful deck with spells straight from the card game. Anyone who’s played the card game will notice quite a few similarities, but being a fighting game there are plenty of differences too. The gameplay is best compared to Lost Kingdoms 2 on the Gamecube, so fans of that game should be pleased with Battlegrounds.

You move from stage to stage fighting minor duelists and building up a deck. Combat is a little dull to start out with since you’ll have so few creatures, but as you build up your spells it’s a lot of fun! Unfortunately, in each stage you’ll be limited to using only one color. As you go through each mission in that stage you’ll fill up your spellbook with spells of that color, but once you’ve beaten that stage you have to start from scratch in the next stage. The first stage equips you with red, and when you reach the end you have to face off against the green Legend, Multani. Having to start over each stage is a bit disappointing as well as very limiting to the amount of spellbook customization you can do. Allowing you to carry spells over to the next stage would have allowed for much more spell variety and spellbook customization.

Each spell costs mana to cast. Your mana will slowly replenish over time, and you can quicken it by pressing ‘Y.’ From time to time mana crystals will appear, which refill some mana and increase your maximum amount. Dead creatures also drop mana shards, which replenish a small amount of mana.

Although Magic: the Gathering features a variety of spell types, Battlegrounds limits it to just three: Sorceries, Creatures and Enchantments (sorry, no artifacts and instants!). Each of these spell type corresponds to a button on the controller. By pressing ‘A” you can open your creature list. Once in your creature list you can then press ‘A’ again to summon a creature. The controls are all customizable, so you can set spell types and each specific spell to whichever buttons you want (X, B or A). You can take up to ten spells into battle with you, so you’ve got a decent amount of different spells you can cast once the fighting starts.

When a creature comes into play it rushes forward, either meeting up with an enemy creature in combat, or attacking your opponent directly. Once the creature completes its attack, it disappears and reappears back on your side. It will then go back and attack the enemy again as long as it survives. A sorcery will take effect and then disappear. An enchantment will set aside and it’s affect will continue throughout the match.

Aside from just casting spells, you can also put up a shield. This shield reduces all damage by half rounded down. You can also swing your melee weapon to do damage. Your melee weapon doesn’t do much, but it can be awfully useful to pick of those pesky Raging Goblins or Suntail Hawks.

Your missions will have a variety of objectives, but usually it’s “kill your opponent” or “kill your opponent in the allotted time.” You each start out with 20 life, and you’ll cast spells in hopes of reducing your opponents life total to 0. Sometimes you’ll have other goals, such as “destroy all creatures” or “Gain 20 life” or something along those lines. It adds a taste of something different to the game so you don’t have all the same quests. Very early in the game you have some extremely basic tutorial quests that will teach you the basics of the game. The goals in these quests are things like “kill 5 creatures” or “gain 5 mana.” In each mission you’ll be required to use whatever card you earned in the previous mission. This gives you a bit of a hint as what strategy you should use to win. Even with the strategy hints, the missions can still be pretty tough. Sometimes you’ll come across a fairly easy mission, but other times you’ll need to use all your skills in order to survive. Anyone looking for a challenge won’t be disappointed. If you’re a pansy and don’t want a challenge, then the game offers an easy mode for you.

The game has all sorts of spells that fans of the card game will recognize. Each color has 14 different spells you can conjure, from Sengir Vampire to Avatar of Might. There are cards from all sorts of different sets, from the new to the old, so all Magic fans should be pleased. Some spells are a little different than in the card game, though. Llanowar Elf, for example, gives the player one mana shard every 5 seconds, whereas in the card game it is tapped for a green mana. Still, the spells all survived the translation to the video game pretty well, and even those that aren’t exactly like the cards are close enough to provide a strong resemblance.

The graphics are decent, but certainly won’t amaze anyone. The spell effects look good, and the creatures have a nice resemblance to the art on their cards, but overall the game looks a bit dated. The duelists are poorly detailed and it’s often hard to tell one creature from another among the chaos of battle. The enchantments are particularly hard to distinguish from one another, especially when it’s an enchantment used by your enemy that you have not yet learned. The sound is at about the same level. The sound effects all work just fine, but they won’t impress anyone.

Battlegrounds is lot of fun to play. Personally, I’m addicted and have been rejecting everything from food to homework in order to play. Although, chances are you aren’t going to get the most out of it unless you’re a Magic: the Gathering fan. There’s a lot to do in the game, including several modes of gameplay and lots of unlockables, and the game’s strategically deep yet action packed gameplay keep things very interesting. If you’re a Magic fan I’d be sure to check it out. If you’re not a Magic fan, it’s still a solid rental.

Final Grade: 80%

Screenshots

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds Screenshots

Videos

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds Videos

Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds Trailer