MAG is Zipper Interactive’s first attempt of a game on the PlayStation 3 console. If you have played any shooters on the last generation of consoles, there is a good chance you have played one of theirs. Zipper Interactive previously gave us all 4 of the award winning SOCOM’s on the PlayStation 2, 2 of the PSP versions of SOCOM as well as a couple Microsoft Windows games.
In the game itself, you pick your allegiance to one of the Private Military Corporation (PMC) as you attempt to capture contracts all over the world. There are 3 different PMCs to choose from in MAG, each with their own advantages and disadvantages which give you a different appearance as well as different weapons between them. After you pick your PMC, you can jump right into the Shadow War where you will experience a brand new scale of combat on a console that you have never experienced before. Every game mode in MAG is an objective based mode, except one of the beginning modes which has a team deathmatch mode to help the gamer get the controls down. While playing MAG you constantly earn XP for getting kills and doing tasks, double the XP if it is part of a fragmented order, also known as a FRAGO.
Once you earn enough XP you will level up an you will be able to become a squad leader for your PMC. While this might be be the first time a game has had extra advantages, none of done it as well nor with the same abilities that you earn from successfully leading your squad. Some of these abilities start off small like the Rapid Fire or Mortar Barrage perks but after playing enough, and if you show MAG that you have the leadership ability you will earn game changing perks that can can jam signals, chat communication and even increase your redeployment respawn times, but those last abilities are something that you only unlock if you get promoted all the way up to the Officer in Charge, or OIC.
Back when I started playing Halo, Ghost Recon and all those other classic online shooter games I always had my idea of the perfect online shooter. It would have realistic military weapons, a real ranking system with extra perks for the higher you were promoted, a huge amount of online players at once, and with a persistent mass online war. Well MAG is all that I have ever wanted, everything that I just said my idea of a perfect online shooter would have, MAG does it and it does it well. MAG excels especially in two first, first and foremost being the online experience. Throughout the many hours I’ve played online, not a single time did I experience any lag, not once for me. This is a game where you have up to 255 other players playing online with you, they play with you all at the same time, that’s right 256 people, all around the world and 0 lag, this was amazing for me. The other thing that MAG does better then anything else is forcing you to work as a team, to be in a squad and working not for your kill to death ratio, but for your PMC. It’s so refreshing so have to finally work together as a team in a shooter and almost getting penalized for trying to be a Rambo. One of the other things that MAG is brings to the table is the perks that you obtain for being a squad leader, platoon leader or the OIC, this is not the first game that has had a feature like this but MAG seems to do it better then everyone else. As a leader you also have a separate leveling system that will promote you based off of how well you lead your team, it was nice to see the Zipper team to go about it this way rather then just one plain leveling system that handles everything.
MAG, while a great and fun game still has many holes. The biggest issue that we had with it was the fact that if you friends or family that you want to play with, they must be in the same PMC as you are. This could have been easily resolved by allowing multiple characters to be controlled by yourself, I personally would have liked to have the option to have one selectable profile per PMC, this would then allow me to not only play with all my friends, not only allow me to experience all the PMCs but allow me to have different focuses as well for each one of them. I also feel more maps would have been another huge advantage, after only a few hours of playing I have not only experienced all the maps and modes, but there is not anything left to discover and I also know the weaknesses over them. Because of this there are several times when I see myself having to defend a certain territory that I’ll just leave because on some of the modes it is almost impossible it seems to win. Yes I know any team can win each and any mode and match but not everything seems balanced in the game. The last issue I had with MAG as the extremely steep learning/leveling curve. While the tutorial explains the very basics, it does not help enough for the new comers and it really does not seem to go into any detail about the perks that you gain when you become a squad leader, platoon leader or OIC, you are left to figure that out on your own. As far as the leveling system, it really takes about 2-3 hours before you can start unlocking weapons and perks that will allow you to compete equally with the rest of the people that own and have been playing MAG.
Steve’s Final Say: If you like realistic military shoots, squad based shooters and you like the fact that you have to work together as a team, this is the game for you. If you like more of an arcade type of shooter games, ie Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you probably won’t enjoy this one because you can not play MAG like you do Call of Duty, it is required that you work together as a team if you wish to succeed.