The Playstation 3 Exclusive MAG is a Mixed Bag says Michelle

It’s pretty amazing, Sony’s new multiplayer game MAG has been talked about for years, for some reason I feel like I saw a clip of this game as part of the PS3 “sizzle” reel 3 or 4 years ago. The game was supposed to be a showcase of how awesome the Sony PSN Network is because it’s the first multiplayer game that’s designed specifically to have 256 players battling it online in one big world. The problem is, the game doesn’t live up to its promise.

Yes you can theoretically have up to 256 people in one multiplayer game; the problem is it isn’t like we’ll ever see all 256 people. The game accomplishes this feat by dividing groups into a Platoon that has 4 squads of 8 players each. I’ve seen as many as 16 players be part of my team, but I for the life of me couldn’t tell what the big deal about all the multiple platoons would be as I didn’t interact with any of them. Every group has it’s own set of goals that will eventually affect everyone.

I appreciate the idea that this game strictly multiplayer, but there is no way this should be a full priced game, I would have appreciated a single player campaign to get me used to this world and make me care about what’s going on, or at the very least an offline mode where we can play with Bots. I’ll admit I am a mediocre multiplayer girl with dainty fingers, I’m happy just getting my average 8 or 10 kills a game and racking up my points.  MAG is exceedingly frustrating. Between the various betas and the final retail copy I have logged over 15 hours with the game and I still die almost every time I take a few steps in the game. I’m now averaging 2 or 3 kills and a couple of assists in a 20-minute match – woo, talk about fun (Sarcasm).

This game is a large social experiment to see if people really will work together to accomplish a goal. Based on my early experience the answer is no. I have yet to have anyone actually provide me with medical attention. I’m sitting there bleeding out and 2 or 3 other players will just stand there shooting at each other and your own team members will shoot you. I’d love to see a game where if your enemy saves you, you automatically have to join that squad or you become a spy and get to turn on the teammates who didn’t save you. In all the matches I’ve played, no one has really thought tactically, I like to flank people and shoot them in the back; everyone else in the game prefers the mano a mano in your face method.

The reason I died so often (beyond my general suckage) is this really is a team-based shooter. You have to work together and be able to communicate with each other to survive. Playing as team gets rewarded – doing things like planting explosives, reviving people, etc. earn the entire team points – not just you. Being a woman, I generally don’t have my headset on when I play online because you guys creep me out when you find out I’m a girl. Here’s a tip fellas, if a girl is playing you online, she doesn’t want to feel like a stripper on a pole. We just want to frag your narrow behind. So more than likely I’ll probably never have the desire to become the leader of a squad, which you can become when you hit level 15. At the snail’s pace I’m on it’ll probably be weeks before I hit that level anyway.

Graphically, MAG is very generic looking, I’m on level five now and I’ve only seen pieces of one large map that looks flat and lifeless. It’s almost all non-descript warehouse buildings, what little grass I saw looked pretty flat and washed out. I really like the presentation of the Menu Screens and your HUD. It’s clean and easy to follow. There’s a story here, but since it a Multiplayer game, it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is when you create your character you have the option of joining one of three Private Military Corporations (PMCs) – Raven, S.V.E.R. and Valor. If you want some cheep, easy kills I’m on S.V.E.R. as MAHLA.

There’s a pretty robust Character customization screen where you can do all your body, clothes and facial customizations. Each PMC option is supposed to provide a different game experience, but once I selected S.V.E.R. I didn’t see a way to switch between the different networks – unless I deleted my character, which I wasn’t about to do. As you gain more experience you get to unlock different game types and weapons.

At this stage of the game the weapons don’t really feel right, it takes almost an entire machine gun clip to kill someone and I didn’t start to get kills until I unlocked the Sniper Gun at level 2. Even with a Sniper rifle it takes 3 or 4 shots before someone goes down (unless it’s a head shot) – very annoying, in one round I found a perfect perch and the enemy squad didn’t know I was there, I hit them while they were running towards our base and the only time they died was when I got the occasional head shot – I could have racked up 15 kills if the Sniper gun had any power to it, instead I only had three. Ironically enough I found the most effective gun to be my Pistol.

After 9 hours of playing the retail version I’m at level 5 now and am becoming a bit addicted to leveling up. I don’t like that in order to get some of the really cool gear, you have to purchase items the stage above it. For instance I had 4 skill points to spend and I wanted this high quality Sniper Rifle, but to get it, I had to spend points to get say the heart beat monitor the level above. What good is the heartbeat monitor if I can’t get the gun?

A multiplayer game really is only as good as the people you are playing with. So hopefully that’ll get better as everyone starts to level up and get used to MAG’s unique style. At first I really hated MAG, but something is happening – as I finally start to get used to it, get some quality killing done and start to gain experience points, I find I’m really curious to see where this all goes and what happens once I have real squad leaders and objectives to work with.

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  • Graphics – C
  • Presentation – B
  • Fun Factor – C
  • Replay Value – B

Final Overall Grade C+

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria
Originally posted 01.28.2010