MAG - PS3 - Review
So the year is 2026 and WWIII has come and gone. World powers are now reforming and allegiances have been made. Corporate entities are the new powers and control the armies of the world, and outfitted with new and old technologies these armies regularly engage in combat in order to maintain strategic advantage. Engaging in 128 player versus 128 player combat, MAG promises to scratch an itch many players feel needs scratching.
MAG is made by the good folks at Zipper Interactive. In case you are scoring at home, Zipper is the company that created the SOCOM series. Having arguably created a vicious and competitive online series already, it stands to reason that Zipper would be able to provide an interesting and efficient online game. After all, we have all heard of a FPS with massive amounts of online players but it never has been done really "well."
"Figures. Everytime I find a resturant I really like, the place gets shut down by the health inspectors."
When you first boot up, you are given the choice of picking which faction you want to join, if you like the US, Canadian, UK group, then you will join "Valor;" if you want to get down and dirty with a tried-and-true, rough and tumble group then you will join the soldiers from the Middle East and Russia and saddle up with "SVER." If you like high tech then "Raven" industries is your destination with their high-European style. Again, remember these are corporations that formed out of necessity and profit. Creating a character means sticking with their faction and only by deleting the profile can you create a new character and join a different corporation.
From an objective standpoint, it is clear that most players are joining up with either the Valor or SVER - SVER more than anything - and this is an important point to acknowledge. You see as the global war continues, it's inevitably going to swing all of the three ways. Most players are running roughshod over their enemies if they are in SVER. Valor is having some success, but in every battle I partook in Raven got whupped up on due to lack of players (and in some ways, quality players). I know that this will change as time goes on, but I fear that the newness of it all will rub off and may cause some players to abandon the game. This title may not have the legs of SOCOM 2 unless Sony and Zipper produce some additional content and have it ready for free download.
Which brings me to my next concern - the maps. Now while I fully expected to see all sorts of interesting locations and battle areas, I was somewhat surprised at the similar looking graphics that the game actually produces. The nine different maps are constantly reusing the same objects and while they are set in different parts of the world, it simply doesn't feel that way. This of course goes with how each map is used with the challenges required to win. Some maps are simple deathmatch-type wars, where you run, shoot and die, only to respawn within 1-20 seconds. I say that because the game constantly is on a respawn clock that shoots killed players back out into combat at the end of the countdown. Meaning, you could die and wait all of two seconds, or you could wait the full 20.
"There I am, minding my own business and then I turn this corner..."
Now before I get too in-depth here about how this game rolls, it is very important to set yourself up with the best load out of equipment. Picking which faction is important here, because there is a distinct difference in weapon strength and SVER seems to have a distinct advantage. Why? Because I played as each faction in order to give a thorough review and this I learned: no matter which body armor you choose, it still does not provide that much protection. That and the weapon load out for SVER is far superior to Valor and Raven. Lastly, no matter what you take as additional equipment, you need to bring first aid. Now there are two types in the game, one used solely for yourself, and usually you will use this fairly quickly after your first engagement of the enemy, you can only take a little damage before you begin to bleed out. Which brings me to the other type of first aid - the kind that you can use to revive fallen comrades. And this is important to get to use because each life you save is worth twice the experience points than taking one. In fact, experience points are the fastest (and only) way to work your way up the ranks and eventually command your own squad into battle.
Sadly, at this point in the review there isn't anything too terribly varying or innovative about the pre-made missions. Some are simply an exercise in combat where others involve a little more strategy, such as hacking computer terminals or securing and defending critical military installations. I spoke about this above, but it bears repeating simply because we have seen games in this vein that have more substance. Unreal Tournament III is a good example of this. Just the mere fact that the game has so little content is wont to put me off.
I do think the developers did do a good job on both the audio and visual departments. The game hums brilliantly through the surround sound and I couldn't be more jazzed. This is a big budget title and the little things, like far-off concussive explosions and gunfire right in front of you are all really cool sounding. Likewise, the game is clearly next-gen produced with the incredibly clean lines and attention to detail from the grains on the brick wall to the bright brilliant explosions from an RPG. If there is one setback it is that the game suffers from some serious lag when a really big game is being played.
Lastly, I should say that this is my kind of title, but the things that bugged me were pretty big - a lack of varied missions, an unfair faction system, and the drops that occur from time to time. Really, sometimes a game will just drop you like a bad habit. I wanted to review an absolutely killer title early on in the year, and while the game is definitely not horrible by any means, its not what we as gamers and consumers, deserve.
It is a fully functioning and well designed (control wise) FPS. There is much to be added on and leveling up through the game helps develop a better type of operative. Tight controls, but death comes way too fast in this one. Why is there even body armor?
Slick, well designed graphics are the order of the day, but you will see many of the set pieces reused as you move along.
The game's best feature in my opinion, strong driving track with full-on, in-your-face sound.
You could load up one time and be a one-man army taking on everyone, and then 20 minutes later you can't do anything right. It all depends on who you are playing against.
This is a rehash or re-imagining of SOCOM. Only they left out a lot of what made SOCOM so much more fun.
Jumping in a playing against another 255 players sounds good on paper, but the reality of it is that you will get lost in the herd. I think the good people at Zipper had something else in mind when they started out.
It's such an uneven and eventually tiring experience, I think this is a good foundation on which to build a franchise, its just they need to make it so much more.