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Paradox Interactive



Arrowhead Game Studios



T (Teen)



January 2011



- Experimenting with magic is fun

- It's even more fun in coop mode

- Some funny moments



- Imbalanced spells where some are much more useful than others

- Can exploit some aspects of combat making the game very easy, some thanks to the aforementioned spell imbalances



- Geometry Wars Galaxies (DS)



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Score: 7.5 / 10


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The world needs laughter, and colorfully robed wizards. It's as simple as that. Arrowhead's Magicka delivers both in spades, and ties it all together quite nicely by being an extremely fun game too. Encouraging players to combine spells and experiment with the results alone, and bringing even more spectacular results when playing online with others, it's challenging, will make you laugh, and only costs ten bucks. How could anyone not want to play this game?


As a novice wizard at the local magic academy, players are suddenly faced with the task of investigating some ancient evil that has decided to plot its return to the world. While on this adventure, disposing of the being's hordes of minions, players will stumble across countless nods toward popular video game series, and pop culture in general, while also experiencing a silly satirical take on the fantasy genre, all thanks to Magicka's narrator, and the wizards' instructor, Vlad, who also insists that he is not a vampire. The humor is well done, providing a steady stream of chuckles throughout the game.





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While it's nice to laugh once in a while, the real lure of the game is the magic system. Here players have eight individual schools of magic at their disposal: fire, water, cold, lightning, arcane, protective, earth, and life. These can be used alone for simple spells that can be projected at enemies, cast on the wizards, or used to temporarily enchant weapons, but the true benefits of these magics comes when players 


start to combine them. Some schools of magic complement each other quite nicely, and will be extremely useful on one's adventures, while other magics are diametrically opposed to one another whereby combining them will lead to disaster. The fun comes in combining all of these various types of magic, and seeing how well they work in combat. Moreover, it becomes even more intense trying to remember all of these combinations, and using them on the fly while being chased around a map by a dozen goblins, and their troll friends (for example), while avoiding accidentally combining the wrong spells and blowing yourself up. This concept grows all that much more in multi-player coop mode, since four people can play together at the same time, making for some ridiculous possibilities when combining spells. There are also a few spells that are learned via finding books hidden throughout the game, or are taught as players beat certain levels. These are called magicks, and serve very specific purposes. Some are indispensable, like haste, time warp, and nullify, while others players will likely never touch.


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With all of these possibilities, it opens up the game to a lot of experimentation, not just in what spells one chooses to combine, but also how one decides that they would like to deal with various encounters in the game, especially boss fights. A number of bosses are open to multiple types of tactics, and it's up to players to sort out which one works best for them. However, some bosses have particular strategies that are an absolute necessity in order to win, or a specific strategy that trivializes the fight. Also, some spells are far too powerful in comparison to others. There is one offensive spell that combines water and fire to make steam, then adds an arcane beam, and a ton of lightning. This spell is brutally powerful, and can absolutely demolish almost any enemy in the game. Even the game's final boss melted like butter to this attack, so a little more balancing of spells would have been nice. Moreover, it became far too easy to protect one's self from incoming waves of enemies simply by casting a spell that causes a bunch of rocks to come out of the ground. Most enemies just start attacking the rocks, and ignoring the wizards, making them easy pickings for players.


Aesthetically, the game looks alright. The environments are relatively simplistic and cartoon-ish, while the music feels about right for going on an adventure, but none of this goes above and beyond the call of duty. Regardless, it's hard to fault this, as both the visuals and sound get the job done, and play well into the lighthearted nature of the game.


There were some issues with bugs in Magicka when it launched, but these have mostly been dealt with now, and the game runs quite smoothly. While playing, I came across a few minor issues, but they were hardly game breaking.


Despite some imbalances in the game's spells, and certain aspects of the game's difficulty being exploitable, there's still a lot to like about Magicka. The experimentation is heaps of fun just to see the results, and this becomes even more entertaining in multi-player. There's even a challenge mode, and the option for some PvP when players have had enough of the main story.  Players looking for a fun little satirical romp through a fantasy setting would do well to give Magicka a spin.


Mr. Nash

February 26, 2011

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