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Get Your Rambo On: MAG Video Game Review

Tuesday 16th, February 2010 / 09:20 Written by

MAG video gameAt E3 2008 Sony and Zipper Interactive revealed a brand new franchise. Outside of SOCOM, Zipper has yet to show us anything outside of that major franchise, until the announcement of Massive Action Game or MAG for short. MAG at the time of announcement was so early in its production that only details of the game could be announced.

One of the biggest announcements for this game was the introduction of Massive Online Warfare in the form of 256 Players in a single server, this was huge for a console based shooter. At the time, Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the biggest shooter in existence, so to do something even bigger was a complete and distant thought. Modern Warfare shows everyone that it doesn’t have to be Halo, SOCOM, or Unreal Tournament that there are new and better ways of creating an insane addictive online shooter. Modern Warfare is one of the biggest franchises currently available, however, its dominance of the market overshadows its one sided gameplay nature and the overall buggy programming that was involved in its design. Killzone 2, in my opinion a much better game then both Modern Warfare games, with so much competition out there how could Zipper Interactive even compete with the heavyweights out there being the first game of its type on the next generation of consoles.

Perfect Dark Zero, the flagship launch game of the Xbox 360, was supposed to support 128 players and sadly it feel very short of that goal. Proof that a feat of having over 100 players in a single game at a time was a challenge. However, in comparison, the Xbox 360 is inferior to the Playstation 3 in terms of technical horsepower. Both have there weaknesses in some regards but the biggest advantage the PS3 has is the requirement of the Hard Drive. With this requirement, Sony can push developers to utilize that onboard drive and really push for more data processing speeds and more reliable networking capabilities.

The Xbox 360′s Live service is much bigger in scale since it has a huge install base that grows each month, but the Playstation Network is gaining momentum and now with a game like MAG now available, if marketed correctly, Playstation Network could grow to even Xbox Live numbers! Its a lot of pressure to put on one game I mean really with the likes of Killzone 2, SOCOM: Confrontation, LittleBigPlanet, and Uncharted 2 the Playstation Network has received more users from those game all together making it a large installed base of users. Xbox Live has the advantage of being simple to use and also being on its second console, Xbox Live was marketed, installed, priced, and handled extremely successful. A game like MAG can really set the PS3 into the stratosphere, and its definitely worthy of doing so, its an amazing game to say the least.

MAG At E3: http://i49.tinypic.com/2ly0mqg.jpg
Official Logo: http://i45.tinypic.com/6faa8k.jpg

I have been beta for this game since Last Fall and let me just comment on that. The users I have encountered during the beta were all very excited to be involved in such a large scale game, an online MMO-FPS (Massively Multiplayer Online First Person Shooter) with the entire engine and mechanics built from the ground up on a console its hard to believe that we can finally have a game like this without the need to update our computers or hope it runs on our Mac. Also unlike the MMORPG’s of the PC and Console scene, MAG also has something else involved in it that many users who have never played an MMO do not have, No Monthly Subscription. All of us beta testers loved playing the game and were in complete awe of its scope and amazing detail.

The major problem with the beta was the issues of connecting online to play games, now there were only set times where the servers were open and when they were there were major issues with connecting due to the fact the game was beta so it was yet to be finished and Sony was not going to let there huge online shooter experience a known server wide crash while in its testing cycle, an event like that will draw doubt as to whether or not Sony can handle this type of game once it goes live. MAG missed the 2008 and 2009 holiday seasons one reason for a missed holiday was the game was the game was to far off from release back in 2008 and it missed last years holiday due to the gam being in its final testing phase before the game would go public. MAG was finally released on January 26th, 2010. Making this the first major game for 2010 for the Playstation 3.

Box Art: http://i47.tinypic.com/2wlttts.jpg

Sony used the launch of this game to announce the street date for another major game, God Of War 3. Sony announced at the grand stage of the MAG launch that God Of War 3 will be released on March 16th, 2010 and now that news will constantly be cited to any article related to MAG thus creating cross game promotion. MAG released nationwide with midnight launches and from the first day I have found absolutely no time of day where there isn’t millions online playing this game. The premise of the game is simple, three factions: SVER, Raven, and Valor are at war with each other for complete global domination of governments and information, thus the factions are striving to have complete power and control over the worlds governments.

In the year 2025, the game’s set year, these factions also have to adhere to the laws of war being that the three factions are not allowed to leave there respected boarders to invade neighbor countries. However, in these times there exist PMC’s (Private Military Corporations) who compete for contracts from these three factions. There biggest advantage, they can fight anywhere thus leading to this on going struggle between the three factions. Each faction is setup with either modern equipment and weapons, high tech weapons and body armor, or left over equipment from other countries as well as various weapons from all over the world. Depending on which faction you chose, the skill sets and weapons and character creation will be determined by the faction you side with.

SVER Logo: http://i45.tinypic.com/2rq2fc9.jpg
Raven Logo: http://i49.tinypic.com/2ezpyk4.jpg
Valor Logo: http://i46.tinypic.com/2n8wnpg.jpg

If you choose Raven, your given the options of high tech equipment, if your Valor your given all the left over armor and weapons however there impact on the battlefield is anything but leftover since these soldiers are highly trained for battle and are very effective, and then there Raven with its more standard weapons and armor. Character creation is very straight forward and very quick. You can use a preset character or you can go all in and create something that really resembles you. You create everything from which weapons you carry to which voice your character will speak when in combat. Your microphone will only broadcast your actual voice while playing online, your characters voice is not controlled by anything but your action while in combat. You can issue many commands ranging from medical assistance to objective based orders such as capturing and securing to arming and destroying. Your characters skill set is all determined on which abilities you buy from the barracks.

The more levels you advance in rank, the more skill points you achieve which can then be used as currency to buy Skills, to those who want to know what this really is just think of Perks from Modern Warfare. Each skill ranges from tactical to medical, you can even purchase newer versions of already bought skills, however, you cannot unlock higher leveled skills until you have purchased a previous levels upgrade. The skills are broken down into tiers, you cannot buy tier two until you own a tier 1 skill, you get the point. Each skill set has its own tier level wether it be a new weapon or the ability to revive teammates with full health, you are in complete control of what your soldier can and cannot do. Once you purchase a skill, you cannot turn it off unless you RESPEC your skill set. RESPEC completely resets your skill set and returns all of your Skill Points back to you so you can reset your skills. So if you do not wanted to be a Senior Dragoon and would rather be a Senior Sniper with Medic Skills you can do that. However, RESPEC is earned just like XP, you can only RESPEC your character when you have enough RESPEC points to do so.

SVER Soldier: http://i47.tinypic.com/2gtdqb6.jpg
Raven Soldier: http://i50.tinypic.com/os6hcp.jpg
Valor Soldier: http://i46.tinypic.com/2nbee06.jpg

Once you have your mind set onto a particular set for your character, its time for you to decide which mode you want to play. For starters, its wise to go through the training mission before you even step foot onto the battlefield since it is quick and painless and your all alone while doing said training. Its an exact clone of the training mission from Modern Warfare 2, only in another game. There are certain modes that require you to obtain a specific Level before you can even play that mode. You can play in up to a total of 5 modes each that require you to play with a set amount of players. There are no modes that have you playing with less then 32 players on your team. Suppression, which is basically Team Death Match, pits 32 Vs. 32, Sabotage which is also 32 Vs. 32 is a mode where one team defends 3 targets from the hostiles. In order to win Sabotage, targets A & B have to be destroyed in order for Target C to be unlocked. Depending on how good your team communicates with one another will determine the outcome in any objective based mode.

Acquisition, which is a mode with 128 players (64 Vs. 64) and it puts one team in charge of protecting vehicles from the hostiles from being stolen with there contents being used for thee own personal gain. Before the enemy can do that however, there are other targets that have to be hit such as Bunkers, AA (Anti Aircraft) Missiles, Roadblocks, and Mortars. These are also available in Sabotage as well but in Acquisition its more important to eliminate these other locations before you obtain the vehicles due to the fact that if your steal one, the enemy can destroy it and there encouraged to do so. However, anything that is destroyed can be repaired by using the Repair Kit skill. You can also level that set up to obtain faster repair times so you can quickly get your bunkers and AA Missiles, roadblocks and gates, as well as spawn points operational once again to continue your assault on your enemies. There are nine locations in this game: Alyeska Terminus, Flores Basin Transfer, Copper Hills Relay, Darien Network, Syr Darya Uplink, Elk Bay Logistics, Corvus Research, Aralkum Mechanical, and Absheron Refinery. Each has there strengths and weakness, a common weakness: Spawn Point Camping!

Massive Battles: http://i49.tinypic.com/p3h8i.jpg

The other modes are: Domination and Directives. Domination is the big mode: 256 Players! 128 Vs. 128! The gaol here is simple, one team is trying to capture 8 targets and the other is trying to protect them from being taken over. Your squads are spread all over the country so you can quickly begin to mount your defensives or offense depending on which side you are on. This mode is absolutely insane since there is just chaos all over and its so awesome to see if all function correctly with little to no lag at all. To be honest I have yet to see ANY serious lag at all, this is a major positive since a game of this size usually would be a haven for lag. Not true about MAG, someone was paying some serious attention to data flow here. As Domination continues, and it will drag on and be intense for all 30 Minutes of the set time limit, if you continue to capture targets you can end the game before the clock runs out. If your on the other side, you must hold the targets for the entire 30 minutes. You do not have to keep all the targets captured but if you have less then half or if they capture them all, the game will result in a lose for you if your defending.

Unlike Sabotage, when the final objective is being contested, the clock will continue to run. In Sabotage, if your contesting the final target the clock will stop. This mode is a haven for XP since there is simply carnage all over, so if your a medic with a repair kit you will be leveling up super fast. However, if there is too much pressure being put onto your team, the enemy squad will eliminate you while your reviving or rebuilding. Also a common theme here is that enemies will camp near the wounded in order to pick up additional kills waiting for the medic to arrive. This mode is absolutely awesome to play and its even better when your fitted with a squad that competes correctly and communicates properly. The control keep up very well and are solid in this mode that combines a fast paced warfare setting along with just shear action all over you. I have played this mode on both offense and defense and its just as enjoyable on either side of the squad.

Sniping In MAG: http://i48.tinypic.com/2ecohh5.jpg
Attacking From Above: http://i46.tinypic.com/fbzvp4.jpg

And then there is Directives, your basically sent into war with one objective: Capture All Targets. Your sent into battle with your squad to fight for any and every target that is set before you. Also, the interesting thing about this mode is that when you select it your not shown where you will be fighting on the world map, your just told that a soldier joins the battle where he is needed most. All in all, these modes are very addictive and very fun to play. I have had my fair share of awful teams which seems to be a little trend here so many people are trying to be the super sniper that they all seem to think they are with these types of games. I have also noticed instances where the controls can be a bit on the slow side in terms of response times which can be costly since your in such a rush to help teammates but to also protect yourself.

It gets really intense when your laying in the trenches trying to plan your route of attack but then bam! An airstrike unloads onto your entire squad and destroys your bunker. You can also disarm any bomb that is in place from the enemy but be warned, do it quick or your toast. Another major plus to this game as I mentioned above is the Free To Play online system. I know its an odd plus for me to point out since Modern Warfare 2 is a similar game but not entirely the same since it MAG is online only and MW2 is both online and local play. MAG’s deep character creation system is the only form of user generated content, buts its all from a preset of defaulted kits and character builds. If it were similar to LittleBigPlanet the game would be so much larger then it already is, but it is still amazing for what it already is. Zipper Interactive and Sony are really banking on the users to keep this game afloat.

For the most part the game is very well rounded and solid, its just the incidents of players who are out for there own stats hurt the overall experience. It doesn’t hurt it enough to where I do not want to play again but it is quite annoying at its core. This game was designed from the ground up to be a Cooperative Experience and it pulls it off very well with its awesomely detailed maps and the objectives you are assigned to capture or protect. Most people play the Suppression Mode because of its basic nature and its a quick pick up and play mode, but I have noticed the other modes, specifically Domination, Sabotage, and Acquisition are getting so many players that finding a game usually does not take too long.

There is lots of excitement here since there is just so much to do and its all live, there are no computer controlled characters, the only thing that is computer controlled is where you will be air dropped into the battlefield and the air strikes. You can however control the helicopters your team is dispatched in by utilizing the turrets and missile launchers. You can also control turrets on the rooftops of the bunkers and you can also snipe from anywhere you see fit. There are other spawn locations your team can choose from and when you use a UAV you can leave it in locations and it will open up as a spawn point until it is destroyed. There are some weapons that just don’t do the damage that you would think they would by firing them, later on as you progress as your character you can unlock more power upgrades for those weapons.

Airdropping Into Battle: http://i47.tinypic.com/4ruvd1.jpg

All in all, this game is simply amazing and addictive and truly lives up to the hype that was created by its initial announcement 2 years ago. While there are moments of dumb players who do not play the game the way it was meant to be played it certainly is an amazing experience regardless if your team is winning and losing. There is simply lots of things to be had in this game and it is an instant classic on the PS3 and I look forward to all of the potential content that is yet to be made available to download via Playstation Network. MAG is now available for an MSRP of $59.99. Rated T For Teen. Online Only. Only On Playstation 3.

Hits:
-Huge Online Battles
-256 Players!
-Training Mission Is Quick And Painless But NOT Required
-Runs Smoothly While At It’s Most Intense Moments
-Easy To Pick Up And Play
-Controls Are Solid
-Graphics Are Awesome
-Fantastic Attention To Detail
-Lots Of Different Locations To Wage War
-Objective Based Modes Are Super Addictive
-Lots Of Chances To Gain XP
-Free Online MMO
-Little To No Lag While In Battle
-Awesome Audio
-Parachutes!
-Countries Are Your Battlefield
-Hilarious Commercial Starring Playstation Spokesperson Kevin Butler
-Did I Mention 256 Players?

Misses:
-No Local Multiplayer
-No Single Player
-You Can Only Create One Character At A Time!
-Users Can Ruin The Experience If There Not Working Together
-Voice Chat Channels Are Annoying To Figure Out
-Spawn Point Camping Wrecks The Game For The Other Team
-Spawn Point Locations Are A Problem On Some Maps
-Button Response Is A Bit Off
-Specific Weapons Are Not As Powerful As They Should Be
-Very Addictive But Can Get Repetitive

-No R. Lee Emery
———————————
Official Score:
MAG Rating: 4 1/2 Stars Out Of 5
Editor’s Choice Award

———————————

Buy MAG from Amazon.com

iconRegister for GameFly™

The Official Site: http://www.mag.com/mag.html

Playstation Blog Article And Official Commercial: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2010/01/it-only-does-256-players/

Add me to your Xbox Live! Friends List: Vegeta42

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About the author

Eric Gargiulo is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009.

View all articles by Eric Gargiulo

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