Review: MAG

on January 29, 2010 10:00 AM

Massive Action Game (and yes it is as big as it sounds) is 256 gamers thrown into the mix to battle it out for the 3 different Private Military Corporations in the Shadow War. Since the concept was first brought up, gamers and press wondered if it could really be done. Zipper Interactive and Sony right from the start, said yes it can. There is no single player mode when playing MAG, it is go all out (online) or go home. It’s multiplayer only and strategy plays the most important part in this game. If you’re trying to make it on your own in MAG and you will be met with ultimate failure. You must choose a side and you must communicate with the rest of your team. Not only do your stats reflect on you, but also on the faction that you choose.

But first let’s get into the story of MAG so we can understand exactly what it is we are fighting for. The year is 2025, and all of the world’s goverments are finally at peace, or so they think. A Shadow War is raging between 3 Private Military Corporations (or PMC for short). You must swear your Allegiance to one of these PMC’s which areL Valor, Raven, and S.V.E.R. Then you are thrust into the world that is MAG. Players are given plenty of military assets to choose from including air strikes, mortar barrages, and parachute insertions which are really cool to behold.

mag_ps3_screen1MAG relies on player experience points or XP to climb up the ranks and realize your dream of military command. You start out as a recruit, can work your way up to Squad Leader (leading a squad of 8 people), to Platoon Leader (leading a squad of 32 people), and finally to Officer in Charge (OIC) leading the entire Army of 128. Each player has a responsibility to follow the chain of command, move up the ranks, as that will lead your PMC to the top of the Shadow War.

Game types vary from 64 player Sabotage missions, 128 player Acquisition missions, and finally the 256 player Domination missions. Sabotage missions are the easiest, as gamers must secure two satellite uplinks and once that is complete to finish the final objective given to them. Acquisition missions are a little bigger as 128 players (which involves 2 platoons) are tasked with the objective of trying to steal transport prototypes. The idea is to steal the 2 transports and get away. Whichever Platoon reaches this objective first wins the game. Domination is the ultimate battle in MAG and the objective is to destroy the fuel supplies for the other side. The attacking side must take 2 pairs of burn off and cooling towers, destroying one to get the next going. The attacking side must destroy the objectives and then hold on to the control panels causing ultimate damage, thus getting the win.

But wait just a minute there Rambo, you just don’t go rocking into the battle of 256 straight off the bat. You must first earn your way up the ranks and the only missions available to you at the outset of the game is training and earning your way up the said ranks. The bigger missions are locked until you, the player, reaches a certain amount of XP and then allowed to participate. Basically going in, all players are even and it is up to you whether or not you make it up the chain of command. And as you progress in the game, you unlock more weapons and more missions you can take part in.

screen-shot-2010-01-29-at-30706-amSo we have talked this much about the 3 PMC groups, let’s explore what each one has to say for itself and what exactly what it’s doing in this Shadow War. We will start out with Valor, the Private Military Corporation founded by former US Army Officers in 2007, is the oldest and most experienced of the PMC’s and goes by the Soldier’s Code. They were the first to embark on this great quest and took the first hit in the war when upstart Raven began poaching high ranking members from Valor, thus taking them into despair. Valor has since brought it’s way back up and has a bone to pick with the members of Raven.

Raven is based in Brussels, Belgium and is the closest to Valor in terms of talent and technology. They are made up of mostly German, French, and Italian nationals. Raven is funded by large defense industry contracts and they operate solely in the best interest of what works best for them. Raven believes in nothing but itself, and feels that anyone who serves any code other than money has no place in this world.

S.V.E.R is made up of any type of warrior they can find. Be it mercenarie, criminal, or felons, or worse. S.V.E.R operates out of the Chechen Republic and a converted military base is their home. S.V.E.R also has bad blood with Valor as well, by botching missions of Valor’s so they can run in and claim the fame for themselves. Seems as though they are prepared to do whatever it takes to be the best.

The weapons of MAG are similar to other games you may have played. AK-47s, Auto Shotguns, M4A1s, SAWs, etc. so firepower is all over the spectrum but it is noted that certain firearms are proprietary to each PMC so choosing which weapons you like may decide which PMC you choose.

As I started up the PS3 and put MAG in, I noticed the user screen is very detailed and easy to use. You can choose to change your weapon deployment for each mission, check your stats, communicate with other members and friends, and of course change controls, sound usage, and video settings. Seeing that I was not familiar with the SOCOM series, which MAG creators got their start from, I decided to start with the Training session. It begins fairly simply and you learn basic controls such as moving under a downed tree and then going completely prone to get under barb wire. So far, so good. You are then commanded to run to your next destination, and then to place a charge on a gate to access the next part of the Training mission. Once that is complete, you make your way to a firing range where you learn to reload from the ammo dumps located around the maps. Your next order of business is to use your assault rifle and fire on two of the targets. This next part is the first trouble I encountered playing the game.

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Okay, so after you fire at the two targets with the assault rifle, you are commanded to switch weapons to your pistol and fire two more times at the targets. Only problem is, when you fire at the two targets with your pistol nothing happens. The on-screen commands are still telling you to switch weapons, which I had and it still did not recognize my doing so. I repeated these steps 4 times and still the same result. So basically, training time was over and I dove right into Insertion.After selecting my weapons and supplies, I was thrust right into the action. I have to also add that the controls are very different from configurations of other games I play, and it may take some getting used to.

You start out across the map with your squad and are thrust right into the battle. Teammates fan out across the map, so having a headphone and mic will help you very much in keeping up with the action. I played the game both ways and I must say that with the headphones and mic is much easier unless you are alone wolf just looking for kills. But like I said before, that type of gameplay will not benefit your squad in the least bit.

Back on controls. There is a slight lag when playing the game and at times it feels sluggish. It really depends on the situation of course, because if your stationary you can keep your sights trained fairly easy. Firing on the move is a bit hard but I would assume practice makes perfect, so I will continue to give that a chance. One of the negatives I also noticed and I’m not sure if it’s a setting I had wrong, but I could not see the enemy on my HUD. Teammates show up as blue dots but as far as the enemy goes, nothing. One great thing I did notice is when you fire your assault rifle you can actually see the rounds leaving the barrell and follow them on their path. This makes shooting from the hip much easier than most games.

The maps are another thing about MAG that will blow you away. They are huge and on some maps there are very few places to hide. You sometimes find yourself out in the middle of a map and facing enemies coming from all directions. That is when you take whatever action necessary to find a rock, fence, or what have you. This game has really come a long way from the beta just a few months ago. The graphics are much crisper and the character controls are a little better than my first go around with it. I would really like to see it get more tight in that department. But it is nothing that can really hamper your gameplay as much as it is something you have to get used to.

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Overall gameplay and the MAG experience is better than what most games in the 1st Person Shooter genre can do. 256 players battling it out at one time is one of the most awesome experiences I have had as a gamer. With what you can do with this game, the little problems would be a fair trade in my opinion. Although I have seen much better graphics, and we all know what the PS3 is capable of, MAG does the battlefield justice with all of its detail.

This game was a real throw up for me. Even when I first heard about it, I had to wonder if playing on such a grand scale would even be fun. And the answer is yes. No matter where you go on the map a firefight is going to erupt and you must be ready to defend not only yourself but your teammates at any cost. This is MAG, Massive Action Game and it will blow your mind. DualShockers recommends MAG and just be careful which PMC you choose, it could mean your life. Hope you have a strong trigger finger.

Review: MAG

  • Title: MAG (Massive Action Gamer)
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.
  • Developer: Zipper Interactive
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • Category: Massive
  • Players: up to 256 online
  • Platform Reviewed: PS3
  • Available: Now
  • Rating: “T” for teen
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • Review Copy Info: DualShockers, Inc. was provided with a review copy  by the publisher for reviewing purposes
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Josh resides in VA and enjoys spending time with his wife Lena, two wonderful kids Peyton and Bailey, and their puppy Marley. He moonlights as an Xbox Ambassador and someday hopes to rule the galaxy. Favorite Games: Mega Man, Tecmo Bowl, Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare