I'll save you some time by getting right to the point: Magic: The Gathering - Battlemage is a complete waste of time.
One might wonder how a game based upon such a property as popular as Magic could go so far awry. I can sum it up in one word: Interface. The interface that was designed for Battlemage renders the game virtually unplayable. There are other problems as well, but I'll get to those in a moment.
At the heart of game are two dueling wizards appearing on either end of a battle map screen. The first problem that the player will experience is that of being unable to view both wizards at the same time, since there is no zoom factor that will allow the entire battlefield to be displayed on the screen. This makes it very difficult to play both offensively and defensively at the same time (as needs to be done), as the player must continually scroll back and forth from one side of the screen to the other, wasting valuable time.
In order to attack the opposing wizard or to put up defenses to his attacks, the player must cast spells. The interface is again a problem in this regard, because spells are cast by using awkward combinations of keystrokes and mouse clicks. In addition, the only way for the player to change the spell to be cast is to "rotate left" or "rotate right" through his tome of seven spells, an activity that again wastes valuable time. Once a spell is successfully cast, it usually takes the form of some type of creature that will begin to traverse the map to attack the opposing wizard. This is also a problem, because creatures can encounter battlefield hazards that can impede their progress, requiring additional time from the player in order to properly direct them to their target. As a result, I found myself being assaulted very quickly by the opposing wizard, with not enough time to react to view his position, cast defensive spells, cast offensive spells, and direct those that had gotten into trouble on the map.
Another problem is that the wizard becomes an immovable object once it is placed on the map. In other real-time strategy games like Command & Conquer, the player is allowed to take advantage of the natural hazards in surrounding terrain to improve his position on the battlefield. Not so in Battlemage, as the player is simply stuck with the map position he is dealt at the beginning of each duel.
I could go on, but it would be a waste of words. I'll just say that you should suppress any temptation you might have to purchase this game, regardless of its shelf price.
Graphics: Some of the cut-scenes can be relatively attractive, but the player spends a majority of his time viewing an archaic, top-down battlemap. Spells are represented by icons, meaning that the player must know each and every icon before becoming able to play proficiently.
Sound: The sound was adequate, but incidental to gameplay. I found myself concentrating so much dealing with interface problems that I hardly even noticed the music and sound effects.
Enjoyment: Even if you find this title in the bargain bin priced at $2.99, you have better odds of achieving enjoyment by buying three one-dollar lottery tickets at odds of sixteen-million-to-one on each ticket.
Replay Value: Both an individual duel mode and a thirty-map campaign mode are avaialable, so I suppose there is some replay value for the player who can put up with the unending interface problems.
People who downloaded Magic: The Gathering: BattleMage have also downloaded:
Magic: The Gathering, Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds, Magic & Mayhem 2: The Art of Magic, Majesty: Gold Edition, Magic & Mayhem (a.k.a. Duel: The Mage Wars), Master of Magic, Master of Orion 3, Lords of Magic: Special Edition
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