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whatshot MAG (Massive Action Game) PS3 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 8.4
Graphics 8.2
Sound 8.3
Value 8.4
Distributor: Sony
Classification:
M15+
Review Date:
February 2010
Reviewer:
Michael Marsh

8.4


Mag
Massive Action Game

MAG is easily one of the world's most ambitious online first person shooters  that boasts a whopping 256-players as they work in teams to achieve their bloody objectives. Set in a quasi future that has seen the military world taken over by corporate business, gamers can join one of three factions that include S.V.E.R., Raven and Valor.

The spin to this story is that each of these companies are attempting to usurp power from the other in order to become the dominant military force on the planet. Fortunately each of these factions have different motivations, appearances and weapons and if you're still feeling a little confused, the developers have a made a cool recruiting video to help the player choose.

You also need to carefully consider which faction you wish to play because once you're enlisted, you cannot change sides and the only options is either delete your character or make your way to level 60 which will then restart you. The great aspect of factions is that they become part of a bigger community and as the game is quite squad orientated, it actually helps in the whole war atmosphere of the game. Not that I've been in the army but I'm guessing that this is the same feeling you might have towards your squad mates in the real army... and yes I've seen Band of Brothers! Enough personal BS!

Story wise, MAG is set in 2025 that sees the Earth thrown into turmoil. Crisis after crisis and mismanagement by the world's governments, the resources of Earth have been squandered and as millions starved, the humanitarian money from the governments somehow found its way to these private military corporations where they fight "shadow wars" between each other. It's a little clichéd but I found the concept rather dark and quite interesting in this first person shooter that allows players to perform a wide gamut of military tactics.

MAG even has a certain RPG element to it and with 60 levels to aim for plus a skill tree, your character is only limited by your imagination. Although there are certain archetype soldiers in the game such as snipers, medics and scouts, where the game does become different is through the use of battlefield commanders. These commanders, depending on rank can then lead a group of 8, 32 and even 128 soldiers to victory or disaster and definitely have the power to change the tide of war through their battlefield orders.

For the majority of us, most players will be grunts who are part of a 8-man squad that has a squad leader. These leaders can even give their teammates bonuses such as increased weapon speed or they receive double experience points if they complete one of their team leaders objective. If you do manage to rise through the chain of command, you do have more players to control and more powers which is kind of cool.

We only managed to test the squad leader function a few times because their are quite a few hogs out there, mainly from other countries. Of course, if your leader does happened to be killed *evil laugh*, it's time for someone else to step up. As you do progress in the game, you are awarded additional skill points to be used, new weapons and items that makes your arsenal catalogue even better. Whether you wish to add points to a particular weapon skill or a personal attribute, the customisation abilities of MAG is extremely in-depth.

The control system of MAG is quite reminiscent of Modern Warfare 2 with a few differences of mapping. Even so, most gamers will easily be able to pick it up and start playing, although you might get butterfingers on some occasions. Even so, it works well with the DualShock controller on the PS3 for some great rumble.
 
When it comes to gameplay mode, MAG offers four different types of games that include Suppression, Sabotage, Acquisition and Domination. Suppression is great for learning the ropes in MAG and is basically team death match for your faction only. Following Suppression is Sabotage that challenges factions to capture and destroy key areas within the game. Although both these options only allow for 64-players, it does help the greener players get accustomed to the universe they are engaged in, including the gameplay, controls and tactics.

However where the game does shine is through Acquisition that pits faction against another with a goal of infiltrating enemy territory, stealing a vehicle and returning with it. Think of capture the chicken but with a vehicle instead. Lastly, we have Domination that unlike Acquisition which only supports 128-players, Domination boasts 256-players. Domination has that true "war" atmosphere to it that challenges players by working as a team to capture key points in the game and preventing the enemy from re-capturing it. Upon completing certain objectives during the game, factions are awarded small bonuses to help through their next battles.

In terms of maps, MAG boasts some very large gaming environments, each with its advantages and disadvantages to all the factions. In terms of content, there are only ten maps currently available, however I'm sure that at a later stage, this will definitely increase. The design of these maps is quite impressive and the developers have carefully created certain situations for all gamers involved. There are also quite a few key targets in the game such as bunkers which allow players to res-pawn and regroup. Other key targets include sensor arrays which allow commanders to bark their orders and is definitely a key place to camp out at. Thankfully if you are losing and somehow manage to repel the invaders, these facilities can be repaired.

Online...online...online. The biggest problem with online gaming in Australia is speed. Depending on the time of day and our link to the servers, sometimes this ranged from perfect to horrible. We tested this game on a variety of connections from standard ADSL to cable and although cable is far superior, not all gamers will have access to an almost flawless and fast connection. Lag will unfortunately kill you in MAG and if you have a timeout, everything that you personally fought for will be lost. However when the connection is good, MAG is a blast and was considerably more fun than some of its competitors.

Graphically, MAG is a decent looking game with some great attention to detail. The characters are well modelling and some of the backgrounds are perfect. The only stutter that we did get was from lag. The developers have really given this game that true Hollywood blockbuster war experience from the lighting, special effects and great animation. You really get the sense that you are on a battlefield.

Of course, surround sound helps considerably, especially when the bombs are going off close or you hear the whistle of bullets. In terms of music, it's nothing memorable but it nicely sits in that ambient zone quite well. Needless to say, both the sound and graphics merge quite well with the overall gaming experience.

In conclusion, MAG is a well made online game that throws a few twists into the online franchise with the inclusion of battlefield commanders. The gameplay is sturdy and the graphics impressive. Lag is an issue in Australia, however for the majority of time, this should not inconvenience you that often. At the end of the day, if you're looking for a fun online game that mimics that war feeling, you better check this game out before people get too much practice on it.

Features:
- Command Structure – Rise through the chain of command, earning the right to lead an eight-man squad, 32-man platoon, and even command a full 128-man army.
- Persistent Shadow War – Each battle victory or loss contributes to your PMCs world standing, moving them on the offensive or pulling them back to the defensive.
- Choose an army – Three distinct PMCs from which to choose from, each with their own storied history, personality, and style.
- Customization – Customize your character and begin to pursue a wide variety of combat specialties. Become an elite fighter or a general of an army.





 

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