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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
- 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.