Why MAG is Essentially a $60 Beta

By Joel Taveras

March 5, 2010

I know what you’re thinking. You just read the title above and thought to yourself “who in the name of Jim Sterling wrote this drivel?” and to that, all I have to say is… relax. Not only is what you’re about to read pro Zipper Interactive, it is also very much pro Sony. Just read on.

For the past couple of weeks, industry insiders have been all astir about big news to come for the PS3. It was pasted all over twitter and forums alike, with many publications going as far as making bold predictions as to which title it could be. After the MM deal, every one assumed that LittleBigPlanet 2 would be a lock (and I’m sure it still is). But when Zipper tweeted out: “It’s Official — SOCOM 4 is coming, and we’re developing it!” I think it’s safe to say that everyone let out a collective Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

This reaction, which I am sure was had by many, should be considered pretty normal. I mean seriously, when did they [Zipper] sneak this in? Am I complaining? Hell no. But MAG has not even been out for 2 months yet and that is what makes me wonder. What intentions did Zipper have for MAG all along?

From the start, many believed that MAG was something that was just a bit too ambitious. 256 players online (on consoles mind you) had never been done before and many people had their doubts as to how it would eventually turn out. Early reviewers (who shall remain nameless) based their evaluations of the title on theory alone rather than waiting for real world playing conditions, which I’m sure in retrospect has most of them wanting to eat their shoes.

Not only is MAG my pick for comeback kid of the year (if there’s an award for that), but it fits right in with Zipper Interactive’s lineage when it comes to making great games. With that said, I truly think MAG was really like a 60 dollar beta test of things to come.

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One thing that we know from SOCOM 4 that immediately separates it from MAG is that it is only a 32-player affair online. And yes, SOCOM always had a more tactical feel to it than most shooters out there but with MAG zipper have proved that tactics and scale can both be bigger without getting in each others way. With that said I think it’s obvious that they have much bigger plans for the series than what people think. Why would Zipper go from having 256 players all the way down to 32? There’s definitely something bigger that isn’t being said yet and I think I can take a guess as to what it is.

Now I don’t want to say the V-Word (*cough* vehicles *cough*) especially after SOCOM: Combined Assault, which I personally had fun with but SOCOM purists shunned, but this has to be it. What I think would be different this time around is that since Combined Assault there has been another 1st party Sony title that has managed to combine both vehicular and tactical combat very well, you probably know it, it’s called Warhawk.

Yes, it’s a completely different studio with absolutely no ties to Zipper except for their affiliation with Sony. However, what they [Incognito] have done is proved that vehicular combat as well as strategic tactical combat, can not only be done in a cohesive manner, but it can also make for one hell of an experience. Imagine a game of extraction, with the only way of getting the hostages out is via a helicopter? How about the ultimate sniper battle across huge maps with air support from above? All I can say is, look what was achieved with 256 players running around in MAG, with the number down to 32, it would only be natural to expect some really over the top action.

Not once did I ever think that the SOCOM franchise was dead in the water. Let’s face it though; Slant Six sure did a number on SOCOM: Confrontation, and not in a good way. I think that with SOCOM 4, Zipper Interactive will be determined to make sure that Confrontation feels like a bad dream that never happened, and once again solidify themselves as being just as important to the PlayStation brand as Naughty Dog, Inomniac, and Santa Monica studios for the past decade.

Just when everyone thought that they [Sony] secured Sackboy as the ultimate spokesperson by gobbling up Media Molecule, every one forgot that it was the M16 packin’ computer AI moron by the name of Jester that helped to get them where they are today.

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Joel Taveras

Joel Taveras is one of the founding members of DualShockers. He hails from New York City where he lives with his wife and two sons. During his tenure with the site, he's held every position from news writer to community manager to editor in chief. Currently he manages the behind the scenes and day-to-day operations at the publication.

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