MAG Beta – first impressions

MAG is being hailed as the next generation in online FPSs, with 256 players in the game at one time. The question is, will a game of such monumental size actually work?

After I had downloaded the MAG Beta, which didn’t take long. I installed it and then proceeded to the menu, or so I thought! The game then started to download an update, all 4gb of it! I left it on for a good 3 hours, and when I came back, I was dismayed to see that the game was only 20% complete. There was no option to close the PS3 down after download, so I had to leave the console on all night. Not a good start. The next day I loaded it up, and was disgusted to see that the MAG server is down between 8pm and midnight. The prime time that I have for my gaming exploits. So I hung on until just after midnight and eventually managed to get into a game.

Gameplay can be particularly frantic in MAG.

Gameplay can be particularly frantic in MAG.

You initially have to choose which faction you are fighting for from three different military forces. They are Seryi Volk Executive Response, or S.V.E.R. a rag tag force created from war torn countries; Raven industries, which are equipped with high-tech equipment; and Valor Company, who are a more regular army with standard equipment. Once you have chosen your faction, you can personalise your character by choosing his face and voice from a small selection of variations. You can also choose what weapons your avatar will use on the battlefield.

Once you take to the expansive battlefield, you and your 8 man squad (The 128 players from each side are split into 4 platoons of 32, and they are then split into more manageable squads of 8.) have to take over strategic points on the map, which are indicated by a red cursor to show you the direction and distance to the next target. Once you take over the checkpoint, you can then use it to respawn, and so push the battle on further into enemy territory. Battles are long and pretty hectic as you can imagine. Once I started it wasn’t long before I was back to base to lick my wounds, with danger coming from all angles, and not much progress being made.

Parachuting is fun, but leaves you exposed to gunfire from the ground.

Parachuting is fun, but leaves you exposed to gunfire from the ground.

When you start playing it can be quite overwhelming with so much going on around you. Especially when airstrikes are called in, and with the devastating destruction all around you, it can be pretty terrifying as you scramble to find a ‘safe’ haven, which is normally swarming with enemy troops as well. Parachuting is handled well, and is good fun, and you can use it to position yourself strategically on the map, from landing on a building to use as a sniping spot, to taking the enemy by surprise from above. Tanks and planes can be utilised as well, which adds to the carnage.

The problem with such a large game, and so many players, is trying to communicate with your platoon to instigate your tactics, as not enough players use headsets to be able to co-ordinate attacks. This means you have a battlefield filled with wannabe Rambos who do their own thing. As a consequence battles become confusing and extremely hectic. This may all change with the final release though, as people form clans and bring a bit of order into the proceedings.

It can take a while to reach your objective, in amongst the carnage.
It can take a while to reach your objective, in amongst the carnage.

From a technical point of view the game is extremely impressive. The game moves along very smoothly considering there is so much going on, and the number of players involved. Graphics aren’t great by any means but Zipper Interactive have done a sterling job of keeping resolution reasonably high, and the game keeps up a pretty consistent pace with no lag. Also when a player drops out, the game carries on and another player takes the place of the departed soldier, which is also really impressive and keeps the game flowing.

All in all if you’re a run and gun type of player you might not like MAG. This game needs careful co-ordination of your troops, and has as much in common with RTS games as an FPS. If you have a clan this is the perfect way of getting them to act as a team, because if you don’t you’ll not last long in this game. It remains to be seen if this will be able to take on the might of the COD war machine, but this will certainly be a great alternative for FPS fans looking for something with a bit more depth than Team Deathmatch.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

One comment

  1. blackpanther25 /

    8 man squads…….32 man platoons

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