MAG review highlights strengths and flaws of the console MMOFPS

James Egan
J. Egan|01.31.10

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MAG is a PlayStation 3-exclusive MMOFPS title we've been keeping our eyes on at Massively. The inevitable debate aside about whether Zipper Interactive's title is an MMO or not -- yes, tanks and guns replace dragons and magic spells -- the game accommodates up to 256 players in a zone at a time. The idea of FPS gameplay with that many people at such a high degree of graphical detail is pretty mind-boggling, and it's something we've explored a bit in the MAG beta. Our parent site Joystiq recently sat down with the game now that it's officially launched and wrote a short MAG review.

Joystiq's Griffin McElroy gives a brief overview of MAG's gameplay and his assessment of the title's merits and flaws. That idea of 128 players per side doesn't mean you'll all be charging towards your opponents in one awesome wave, he notes. Rather, you'll typically be interacting with your fellow soldiers on a squad level (4-8 people) to achieve objectives, with multiple squads comprising platoons, and four such platoons forming an army.
McElroy goes on to discuss his experiences with leadership roles. He writes, "Surely you've tried to verbally orchestrate grand, four-front assaults in other multiplayer shooters, such as Battlefield 1943. What MAG does is take that idea of leadership, and place it in a cogent, straightforward in-game interface."

He also discusses the incentives for squad members to follow orders, and how the various gametypes (Suppression, Sabotage, Acquisition, and Domination) play out. McElroy notes that with such a large number of players on your side, no single player's performance is likely to turn the tide (either towards victory or towards defeat). Success and failure in MAG is determined by a group's cohesiveness as well as the competency of its leaders.

"Regardless of which gametype you're playing, or which role you're fulfilling, the wheels really fall off the wagon when your squad, platoon and army doesn't function as a single unit," he notes. He also warns that there's a steep learning curve, particularly for players who progress into higher ranks and begin to direct these campaigns.

Overall, his assessment of MAG is positive, and many of the negatives McElroy cites can be attributed to the aforementioned learning curve players are facing in this game, regardless of whether they're grunts completing objectives or the ones calling the shots. Still, MAG stands apart from other games in the shooter genre, largely by virtue of the sizeable armies engaged in pitched battle and how vital it is for players to work together.

If this title has caught your interest, have a look at Joystiq's MAG review for more on what Zipper Interactive's console MMOFPS has to offer.
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