Usually, I can get through a FPS quickly and offer up my review on the game soon after it's released.. Seeing as MAG was one game that needed some extra attention, I decided to take my time on this one. It's a good thing too as my opinion on the game changed as I progressed through the ranks. MAG is a flawed game but it has potential to be a good one.
MAG stands for Massive Action Game and it's the product of Zipper Interactive. These are the guys behind Mechwarrior 3, Crimson Skies, and a boat load of SOCOM games so they have some experience in creating war games. MAG is a pretty ambitious project in that it offers up a first person shooter with up to 256 players on a single map. Built just for the PlayStation 3, MAG looks to recreate massive battles in large open areas.
You start out by choosing between one of three factions . Each faction has their own specific weapons so they offer a slight difference in equipment. Here's the first issue with the game as S.V.E.R.'s just overpowering and a lot of folks in the game are gravitating to that faction. I know that there needs to be some different strengths and weaknesses to the three but I think Zipper either needs to tone down S.V.E.R. or boost the other two to make it a little more competitive. You're able to customize the look of your character somewhat with different faces and clothing as well but don't expect anything too extensive in this department. For loadouts, you can customize up to five different types. To prevent people from just maxing out on everything, there's a load limit with each item given a score. You won't be able to go past the limit in customizations so this forces you to pick and choose the items you want the loadout to specify in. Each weapon customization also adds onto the score so this is a nice setup for making different custom loadouts and not have it be overpowering. There are other ways to customize your character with certain skills and such. As you earn experience points and level up, you can upgrade attributes that will open up new abilities and enhance abilities. The character level and customization is more in depth than Modern Warfare 2 and something I do prefer over it.
After you setup your character, you're then allowed to be placed in a queue to be deployed. When you first start out, you're limited to smaller group games. It's not until you get to level eight where you can then participate in the large scale 256 man wars. This is put into place to try and have you get used to how MAG is played and to develop the necessary teamwork skills needed to do well in the game. You can't just run around and play it like a traditional FPS if you want to succeed. Teamwork is the key and the early levels are there to try and teach you to work as a team. I like that Zipper made it so you don't just jump into a 256 game server as forcing you to work your way up should help make for better teammates later on. This isn't always the case but I'm going to guess that it does have some affect in providing better quality players on the larger scale battles. I know from experience that I was running around like a chicken with his head cut off in the first few levels but as time went on, I learned to follow and coordinate with my squad.
Even though MAG lets you fight against a large number of human enemies, you are always placed in a squad. Four squads make up a platoon four platoons equals a company. Up to eight people can be in a squad and one of the higher rankings members can be squad leader. The squad leader can help direct objectives and offer up bonuses. Following close to a squad leader (who is playing correctly) can help you a lot as they can provide such bonuses as faster reloads, increased resistance to damage, and increased experience points. It's another way to encourage team work and to follow your squad leader and, hopefully, the rest of your squad mates around.
Before the battle begins, you start out selecting a spawn point and the loadout you want to equip yourself in. As the game progresses, new spawn points can open up making it easier to get back into the fight. One of the cooler things to experience is to parachute into the battlefield. You have some control of your parachute so you can try and place yourself down in a safer area. Of course, you're also susceptible to gun fire as you float down but I found that it was uncommon for me to take damage this way.
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