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Joystiq hands-on: MAG - part 2

Colin Torretta

You can choose to stay in the game as you "bleed out," but knowing there weren't any friendlies close enough to heal us, we chose to respawn.

After we were able to take down the bunker, we moved forward -- further into the base. Here we got another FRAGO to take out a mortar gun which was causing chaos for one of the platoons on the other side of the base. Foolishly, we ignored that and ran towards a bridge that the enemy had been using to snipe us and as we turned a corner, we ran right into a full squad of Raven soldiers. After quickly being turned into Swiss cheese, we found ourselves back at the respawn screen. You can choose to stay in the game as you "bleed out," but knowing there weren't any friendlies close enough to heal us, we chose to respawn.

The respawning system is familiar to anybody who has played Battlefield, and gives players a chance to switch classes or pick a new spawn point. How you died or how many times you die doesn't effect how long it takes you to get back into the action; instead the game sends out 'reinforcements' every 15 seconds, so depending on where you come in during that 15-second period, you could be back in the action in just a few seconds. It helped keep the action going at a good pace, and since you'd spawn back in with other people, it meant you almost always had fellow soldiers around.

As we ran back to the mortar FRAGO, I got there just in time to score the XP bonus as one of my squad mates successfully destroyed it with another C4 charge. Once destroyed, we got the unfortunate news that the enemy had rebuilt the bunker at the front line, making reinforcements difficult -- so our platoon leader directed us over to an AA gun that had been keeping our planes and helicopters from supporting us. We were able to take it down fairly quickly, which gave us a new spawn point right in the middle of the base in the form of a helicopter with twin player-controlled machine guns. It's worth pointing out at this point that while there are driveable vehicles in the game, players will not be able to manually jump into the cockpit of a jet or a helicopter. A minor disappointment, but considering how many people in Battlefield used fighter jets as 30 million dollar one-use transports, it's not that big of a deal.

From a personal perspective, I've got to say that I came away impressed.

Eventually, we were able to get to the final goal, a large, heavily fortified garage where the high-tech transports were stored. This was a heated battle with multiple squads from both sides converging on the garage as we desperately tried to extract the vehicles. We probably died six times just trying to get the garage open in a mad dash of desperation, but once we started coordinating our attacks we were able to get on of the armored transports out and started back towards our base.

While the Raven soldiers were suppose to make sure that we didn't steal any of the vehicles, once we did steal one, their goal changed to making sure we didn't leave the base alive -- and if that meant blowing up the vehicle ... so be it. As some of our troops escorted the vehicle towards the front line, others stayed behind to try to slow down the enemy as much as they could. Unfortunately, the soldiers left behind died quickly in the onslaught of incoming Raven troopers and a well placed airstrike stopped our attempted grand theft auto in an abrupt and violent manner.

That was the end of our hands-on (though we did get to play the Raven side later, which was quite a bit of fun and much easier).

From a personal perspective, I've got to say that I came away impressed. I'm a long-time Battlefield player and love first-person shooters as a whole, and MAG nailed it in all the right places for a competitive shooter. A solid framerate ("at least 30fps at all times"), no lag, responsive controls, a great command structure, and a persistent world where your actions contribute to your faction's ultimate goal of ruling the world, makes for what could be the top shooter of the year, on any console. Modern Warfare 2, I hope you're listening -- this is the one to beat.

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