Magic The Gathering On XBLA Is Very Broken

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I am posting this article up as a warning to anyone interested in buying the new Magic The Gathering game, titled Duels Of The Planewalkers on Xbox Live Arcade.

The game sets out to bring Magic the Gathering to both fans and newcomers, and actually does a pretty good job of delivering the experience on Xbox Live Arcade. It is all nicely presented and comes with online play, challenges and a campaign mode.

Just this weekend, I bought the game on Xbox Live Arcade and was quite keen on giving it a go online. It started off well enough, but after playing a couple of online games with some friends, some major issues started popping up, and often.

The problem you see, is that the game itself is very much broken, and to be honest it astounds me that the game even passed it’s quality assessment.

The first issue that was experienced is that the game has the tendency to randomly freeze your Xbox 360. This is nothing though, when compared to the online play.

We experienced multiple issues when playing online and they ranged from annoying to completely game breaking. To begin with, the lobby would completely break after a lot our games, which forced us to have to rehost games fairly often.

When in the game though, the big problems started popping up. We had a situation, where a player that was already out of the game activated the games’ stop timer automatically by choosing to zoom into the card that was being played, so that he could read its description. That’s all fine, until the game screwed out, and did not allow the player to continue the timer, meaning that the entire game had to be dropped (about 30 minutes in) and we had to start again.

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We also had similar issues when I had zoomed into a card to read it’s description, only to have another player cast a card on me forcing me to discard cards. The game didn’t like that, and in the end kept me stuck in the zoomed card screen until the timer ran out, which in turn made the game automatically choose which of my cards to discard.

The worst one, was undoubtedly the bug that happened towards the end of yet another pretty long game that was also already running at around the 30 – 40 minute mark. One of the players was attacked in the game with a large force, causing him to lose all but three of his health points. The issue being that I saw him as having three health points, he saw himself as having three health points but the third player saw his as dead (and out of the game). So one player saw him as dead, and the two of us saw his as still active, and that can’t end well.

The dead/alive player then tried to cast a spell in his turn, causing the entire game to get stuck yet again due to the issue, meaning that the entire game was a waste and had to be stopped.

The game itself has proven to be quite fun, but be warned. If you are interested in buying the game, I would suggest that you rather wait until a patch is released and the game’s issues are sorted out.

I say again, how did this ever get past the guys in the quality department?

Last Updated: June 22, 2009

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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