For a while now, SCEA and Zipper Interactive have been talking about MAG, a
massive online war-based shooter game that can have up to 256 players online
simultaneously engaged in a battle. At E3 2009 in Los Angeles, the game was in
the SCEA booth as a playable battle, giving players the first real go with
experiencing this fast-pace and deadly world.
This is a player-versus-player conflict, with set maps (nine different ones –
three for 256-player battles, three for 128-player confrontations, and three for
64-player fights) and a leveling system that is based on experience gained in
the throes of battle.
There is an overriding story arc and that is essentially different armies vying
for government contracts. The contracts come in the form of controlling maps.
There are those who are awarded the contract and defend a map and its vital
points, and those who are attacking the vital points in an effort to overwhelm
the defenders, and win the scenario enough times that the army to which players
belong are awarded the defense contract.
In addition to securing strategic points on the map, and killing the enemy,
there are other ways to earn bonuses to experience gain. Players can work
through the leadership ranks, and how that is accomplished begins to show some
of what this game is made of – a squad leader issues commands for those within
the squad to deploy to a certain area and take out certain objectives. Should
the members of the squad obey those commands, every member of the squad begins
to accrue bonus experience.
As players level, skills become unlocked and characters become more customized.
Graphically, the game is a bit of a treat, with great effects, solid animation
and well-rendered environment objects, all running at 720p. Members of the dev
team on hand to demonstrate the game said that the game will run at a smooth 30
frames per second even in the massive 256-player battles. The game has a UI that
will issues orders, but voice is also incorporated into the story.
While the environment comes into play with players using it as cover, there is a
penetration system based on the type of cover being used and the caliber of the
ammunition being fired.
MAG is on track to ship to retail in the fall.