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Platform

Playstation 3

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Zipper Interactive

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

January 26, 2010

 

 

- Solid gameplay
- Team based gameplay works well
- Solid online performance for the most part

 

 

- Visuals canít compare to todayís modern shooters.
- Small number of maps available at launch
- One character per PSN account
- Some frustrating moments
- Loadouts have limits

 

 

Review: God of War III (PS3)

Review: Killzone 2 (PS3)

Review: Rainbow Six Vegas (PS3)

 

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MAG

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

Those who were fans of the SOCOM series may have been surprised to see Zipper Interactive venturing into new territory with MAG: a first person massive online multiplayer shooter set in the future featuring up to 256 players online on a single map, which is astounding considering what other games have offered for the Playstation 3.

 

mag          mag

 

Believe it or not, MAG actually has a storyline. Based around three different military contractors fighting for supremacy these factions are S.V.E.R, Valor Company and Raven, each possessing unique uniforms and weapons. The way that MAG handles the factions is where the first fault with the game lies. You can have only one character per Playstation account, which means that once you want to try another faction, you are forced to delete your existing character or max out your characters

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rank (level 60).

 

Prior to jumping online you can go through the tutorials which teach you the basic controls. The tutorials do a decent job of preparing you for what lies ahead online, but I still found myself asking for help from my teammates to carry out specific actions.

 

While MAG is set in the future, most of the weapons and vehicles

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are pretty similar to whatís seen in games like Modern Warfare 2. You have your standard assault rifles, pistols, machine guns, grenades as well as special weapons that squad commanders can use such as mortar strikes.

 

Joining a game is done by choosing your game type and joining a queue. There is a fairly large online community so finding a game is usually not a problem. However, there were times when I had to wait for a couple of minutes in a queue prior to joining a game. When this was the case I found that quitting and re-joining a queue seemed to speed things up.

 

There are a total of four game modes: Deathmatch, Sabotage, Acquisition, and Domination. Sabotage sees one team defending a series of positions, while the other team attempts to take over these locations and destroy a final position to win the game. Acquisition is similar to SOCOMís hostage rescue mode whereby one team has to break into the enemyís base and steal a vehicle and transport it back to their spawn point. Domination puts team in competition for control of a series of points throughout a map. Deathmatch is standard, but where MAG truly shines is in the other multiplayer modes as the emphasis on teamwork is truly evident in the other game types.

 

The teams in MAG are broken up into squads. Each squad consists of 8 players, with a squad leader. The squad leader has the ability to call in mortar strikes, poison gas strikes or air strikes. Itís important to have someone who is qualified as squad leader, otherwise your squad will struggle to complete its objective. If you feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of a squad leader, it is fairly easy to pass on leader duties to someone else in the squad and there is always the option of voting someone out of the match.  The key to survival in MAG is sticking with your squad and communicating effectively with one another. Not having a mic while playing online can certainly put a damper on your online experience.

 

The enjoyment of the experience depends heavily on the people you play with. Teamwork is essential in MAG and games where you have good coordination with your teammates prove to be the most enjoyable. There were some games where the coordination between my fellow soldiers and I was so poor that we were completely annihilated by the opposing team.

 

The shooting mechanics are good for the most part, but do not feel as polished as Call of Duty. I frequently found myself getting frustrated with unloading round after round at an enemy only to find myself dying time after time. Not only that, but some weapons feel underpowered and/or inconsistent. This was most commonly the case with grenades. While the blast radius appears large I frequently found myself not getting enemy kills when grenades would explode right next to them.  Other times I would kill enemies who appeared outside the blast radius of a grenade.

 

Respawning is handled quite differently from other games. In addition to spawning at fixed points on the map, you can also spawn inside vehicles, which is one of the strangest features I have ever seen. In the larger game modes youíll frequently come across enemies who spawn camp and drop you within a few seconds of spawning. Other times you can spawn by parachuting into the map, which has its drawbacks as you are sitting ducks for close enemies who are close by.

 

mag          mag

 

The gameís rank up system is quite similar to Modern Warfare 2ís. During each match you gain experience points for performing tasks ranging from killing enemies to healing teammates. These points contribute to you leveling up and earning points which you can then spend on weapons, and weapon and character upgrades. At the beginning of the game, only certain multiplayer match types are available and you are required to attain a certain level to unlock these. In addition to that you can only be a squad leader if you have attained a certain ranking. One frustrating element of character customization in MAG is that you have a set limit on what you can equip your character with. I frequently found myself having to change my load-out to accommodate the gameís load-out limit.

 

You are probably wondering how stable the game is given that it was designed to support up to 256 players online. Based on my experience with SOCOM, I was expecting lots of lag and online glitches and bugs, but for the most part, the game is fairly stable. I was only disconnected a few times and only once did I ever run into a major bug online.

 

The game features a total of 9 maps. Maps are mostly specific to the type of game mode you are playing. One of the most frustrating elements of MAG is that rather than choosing which map you would like to play, you simply join a queue and are forced to play the map the game chooses. Quite frequently youíll play the same map 3 or 4 times in a row. Not only that, but quite often youíll be stuck playing offense or defense most of the time, rather than having equal opportunity on both sides.

 

The visuals in MAG are fairly weak. Textures appear low-res and characters lack detail. This certainly is no surprise since the game supports up to 256 players with audio chat. Effects such as explosions donít appear as satisfying as they should be and there are also some issues with the gameís framerate when the action picks up. Thankfully, the gameplay makes up for the weak visuals.

 

MAG is a solid effort by Zipper Interactive. It falls short in some areas, but proves to be an enjoyable experience that offers something not previously seen in any other online shooters for the Playstation 3. If youíre tired of standard shooters such Modern Warfare 2, then you should definitely give MAG a try.

 

- Siddharth Masand

(March 19, 2010)

 

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