Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds
Developer: Secret Level
Publisher: Atari Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds (MTG:BG) is one of the more unique uses of the Unreal game engine. Basically, it's you against many different opponents with many different abilities, in smallish arenas that are split down the middle by a mystical line. You can cross the line to take a melee swat at your opponent or steal some of his magical mana, but after two seconds, you'll incur damage yourself, so it's best to move quickly. In addition to your melee thrust, you have a wide assortment of sorcery, creature and enchantment spells at your disposal, virtually all of which you will need in order to get through the 'Quest'.The Quest, one of the four game modes, is basically a training ladder in which you work your way through five 'chapters' which correspond to the magical gems needed to assemble a powerful magical talisman. You'll want to complete the Quest before moving on to the other game modes. Each of the chapters also involves mastering each of the types of magic in the game - black, green, red, blue and white. Once you've completed the five chapters and assembled the talisman, you are granted the 'privilege' assembling your own spellbook using up to two different types of magic (green and black, for example) and competing against even stronger opponents in a sixth chapter. Be warned: the last couple of challengers are particularly lethal, and will require your best effort for success!In most challenges, you need to deplete your opponent's health from 20 to 0. Some special challenges require you to gain a particular amount of mana crystals in a predetermined period of time, vaporize the entire arena of all creatures, or other tasks. Each chapter of the Quest presents its own unique difficulties, some of which may seem insurmountable to you at first. Thankfully, there are hints available in-game, and by following them, you should be able to steadily progress through the entire Quest. Once you complete the Quest and get your skills up-to-snuff, your next obvious challenge is to enter the 'Arcade Duel'. Here, you battle against five duelists, using your own spellbook (which you can create). Once you've successfully defeated six opponents, you unlock the next duelist in the color that you just played.Arcade mode is tough, as you have only a limited spellbook to work with, and the AI quality of some of the opponents is rather good. For example, one of the opponents can sense when you are down to four health, at which time you can expect a 'Scorching Missle' to be fired at you, which has a full damage effect of - you guessed it - four.