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MAG review

Solid
AT A GLANCE
  • Relentlessly action packed battles
  • Balanced weapons make a fairly even playing field
  • Character progression
  • Most matches descend into a bottle-neck
  • Secondary objectives can be confusing
  • Some respawn times take forever

We won’t dwell on our reasons for posting a tardy review of MAG again. If you’re interested then read it here. What we can say is that after our initial cold feelings toward Sony’s impossibly large online shooter we’ve slowly warmed to the frantic action.


Above: You ain't gonna hit anything aiming into the sky like that

While the majority of us and our colleagues favour Modern Warfare 2’s online offerings, there is a place for MAG to exist, and in some cases, surpass Infinity Ward’s classic. We asked our resident angry Scotsman, and online FPS softie, Dave Meikleham why he prefers MAG to MW2…

"As I’ve already freely admitted: I’m rubbish at MW2,  which is why I prefer MAG: I’m slightly less rubbish at it. Where Modern Warfare 2 is all lighting-quick, ruthless twitch shooting, Sony’s game is more methodical and thanks to the bigger maps I can head off to a safe haven when the pressure gets too much. Crucially it's far more forgiving to new players."

You can read more of the same in his opinion piece but regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Dave’s views the truth is that MAG is a far different experience to MW2. In short, there’s room for them both to exist side-by-side.

For the uninitated, MAG is an FPS (d'uh), but played out with a maximum of 256 players online. As opposed to the likes of Modern Warfare 2, the war-torn landscapes of MAG are big enough for you to scout out flanking positions before you go on the attack. And although you shouldn't expect too many buildings to hide inside of (most are boarded up like on a council estate) you may stumble across a peaceful patch and take a few moments of rest to pick off enemies for a few minutes unhindered. But unless you man up and get into the fray, MAG can be a slightly soulless experience.  

Without a single-player campaign, your enjoyment of MAG hinges entirely on the actions of others. If your team is full of ham-fisted, f*ck ups – then you’re unlikely to win. If you’re squad is packed with battle-hardened folk who bark orders out incessently then you usually do, but your ears will be ringing from the chatter. Here’s a handy list of the folk you’re likely to encounter in MAG…

The stoner

 
This half-baked chap turns up more often than you'd think. He's less concerned about what's happening on screen as he is about where he's going to score his next hash cake, which makes him a liability on the battlefield. On one ocassion we even watched in horror as we lay bleeding waiting for Captain Bong to revive us only to see him standing still while he was on the phone to his drug dealer. Apparently, Teddy in Baltimore has 'killer weed, maaan'.


The commander




These folk aren't as bad as you may think, and in fact it's good to know that these tactical savvy troops have got your back. They'll tell you when to flank, where to toss grenades and even when to shoot - not that you'll need that last prompt. It's only when they start with the 'holier than thou' crap that they start to annoy you. This is when you stand over them while they're in the death throes - y'know, to teach them a lesson. 

The n00b




No online shooter would be complete without the novices. If you're reading this review, you're probably one yourself. But it's the constant questions of 'how do we do this?' or 'why can't I call in an airstrike?' that reveal the true newbie. There's nothing worse than having one strafing around your vehicle switching between weapons, rather than fixing your ride. End their misery by running them down.

The mute




The ghosts of the battlefield. We're not talking about the people that don't own a headset, we're talking about the ones that do but don't utter a word. We know, because we can see the mic icon next to their user-name and we can hear them breathing too. Odd. We shouted at our silent friend more than once as they sat their like cowards watching an enemy knife us up.

The masochist




"This is rubbish". "It's no where near as good as Modern Warfare 2" "Jeebus, all these guns suck". "Why am I even playing this?". Sadly, these people are frequent within MAG and they're desperate for all to listen about how whack it is whether you want to hear it or not. Jog on, dick-heads. 


The boombox


Ahh, the ultimate annoyance in gaming with headsets - twats that play music instead of discussing tactics. We got the full 12" version of Purple Rain (8:45) TWICE during one battle, which added a seriously contorted dimension to all the killing. We really wish these wannabe DJs would save their emotional tunes for when they're crying themselves to sleep at night.

All in all, it’s a fairly rag-tag bunch of mercenaries that come together to form one of MAG’s three factions – Raven, Valor and our pick S.V.E.R. Regardless of your choice, the core experience remains similar throughout.

See page 2 for how it works, game modes and why there is an 'I' in team. Sort of

So how does it work? Hmmm, how can we put this… PREPARE TO DIE!!1! In the short term at least. MAG may cover vast landscapes as it accomodates hundreds of players at once but there are very few places to hide here. A typical game usually plays out like this…


Step 1: Spawn into battle and run to the action...


Step 2: Keep running...


Step 3: Keeeep running...


Step 4: You encounter an enemy. It's GO TIME!


Step 5: "Medic!!" Too late - you are dead



Repeat steps 1-5 to fade

There are four types of game modes to join. Suppression (64 players) is essentially a team deathmatch. Sabotage (64) where you have to attack/defend point A and B before moving on to C. Acquisition (128) where the attackers have to steal two vehicles and drive them back to their HQ. And the showpiece, Domination which features the maximum 256 players again attack/defending a series of points before heading into the final objective.  

The key difference to other shooters in its class is that MAG is all about the team-work rather than being a mercenary. Hold on, this is mostly BS.

More often than not battles take place as above - charge into the action, kill a few guys, get shot, respawn. There's very little actual team-work other than reviving a fallen comrade. We found that there was indeed another type of team-work involved but this mainly saw us form a tight unit of kamikaze like troops, storming an objective before dying and respawning simultaneously only to try the same doomed feat again.

While there are objectives for you to take care of on the battlefield, such as destroying bunkers, capturing locations and the like your main focus is chalking up kills. So much so that most games end up in a bottle-neck of death, swears and frustration.

That ‘team-work’ element depends on the people you’re playing with. Truth is, most of the random folk you’ll meet are more likely to leave you to bleed out in some ditch than quickly revive you with a medi-kit. As we discovered, shouting obscenitites down the mic doesn’t seem to make them come rushing either.

But when you do find a team MAG does play out like a well-oiled war machine – full of snap decisions, rescue attempts and gallows humour. Our advice? Get your mates involved and make a clan for maximum enjoyment.

See page 3 for why MAG isn't all bad, is it better than..., and the score

Unfortunately, it’s this whole 256 players aspect that is both MAG’s curse and blessing. On the plus side, this is the first time in console history that so many players can participate in an FPS at the same time. On the down side, once you look beyond this MAG has very little left to give.

The vehicles (tanks, APCs and such) seem to have been crow-barred in to the action as the levels are full of twists and corridors that the lightweight handling makes a chore to drive around. The weapons are OK, but unoriginal. And, um, that’s about it.


Above: We never driven a real tank but we imagine it's more fun than here 

The one saving grace of MAG is that it’s zen-balanced, which means any schmo or Dave Meikleham can drop straight in and feel like they’re contributing. Nearly all the weapons take the same amount of time/bullets to drop a man and with the player specific loadouts that include armour tweaks – you can hone your character to whatever way suits your skill. And if you put in enough hours you’ll be able to command a squad or even take full advantage of their support perks such as artillery strikes.

Theoretically, there’s plenty to do on the battlefield – like following set objectives from in-game leaders – but there’s very little else to get excited about. Y’know things that you’d tell a friend “Awww man, you’ve gotta see this bit”. So sadly, MAG pales in comparison to other online shooters (see below) and frankly it doesn’t do enough to justify its full-price tag. We guess this is the problem when your USP is ‘more players’ and nothing else.

Is it better than...

Battlefield Bad Company: No. Not only does DICE’s original masterpiece come packing a solid single-player campaign, but the multiplayer aspect blows MAG out of the water too. With its vehicles, destructible environments and beautiful landscapes to play across, it manages to focus on the fun aspects without the need for 256 players being involved.

Modern Warfare 2: No. This is twitch FPS-ing at it’s finest, whereas MAG has more of a methodical theme to the proceedings. But in terms of variety, weapons and raw excitement we’d rather have MW2. We can’t deny that MAG is a great alternative to the frenetic action though, so if you’re a fan of Infinity Ward’s shooter you’ll still find some reasons to be cheerful here.

Killzone 2: No. Since the tweaked control scheme that makes it a tad quicker to aim, Sony’s other FPS has become somewhat slicker and the rolling objectives/game modes puts it into a similar arena as MAG. KZ2 may not be the sharpest shooter on the block but it has far more originality and character than Zipper’s humongous shoot-out.

Just for you Metacritic

Kudos to Zipper for being trailblazers in terms of how many people you can cram into a game but beyond this USP, MAG is a fairly generic affair. It all works well but it isn't mind-blowing. And with a full-price tag, minus an offline campaign, it's hard to see where the value for money lies here.

More Info

Release date: Jan 26 2010 - PS3 (US)
Jan 29 2010 - PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Sony
Developed by: Zipper Interactive
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Violence, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:
16+

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55 comments

  • Mr.YumYums - July 18, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    This is one of the funniest reviews I've read in a while. I know I read it back in 2010, but coming back to it now man this is gold. "killer weed maaaaaan"
  • alexkirby - May 18, 2010 2:10 a.m.

    I feel that Mag is much better than Mw2, for one because Call of Duty has been around for how long? It's about time someone made a game with a little different objective and enviroment.. With Mag you have 3 factions and many different weapon choices and in mw2 and all call of duty games for that fact have an over powering weapon in them, the sniper rifle. You can dominate the battlefield with a simple sniper rifle. Like explained in the review, mag has hardly any places to hide out and pick off a couple of people, and to be honest it said that gamesradar picks S.V.E.R over the other factions. Honestly how long did you guys sit there and play this game? A day? I've played over 300 hours and switched between all 3 factions but I wouldn't just say one faction is better than the other. Gamesradar basically trashed down an original game and said it's not worth what you pay for it, but who's to say it's not? 5 thumbs down on this review.. to sit there and say this game isn't worth the price is garbage.
  • starhaw - February 27, 2010 8:54 p.m.

    whats funny is the reviewer FAILS to mention the fact that ZIPPER is constantly LISTENING to their players, making things better and fixing problems, THEY HAVE released what 3 patches that have significantly helped the entire game, fixing problems instead of making them or ignoring them like MW2, and JUST WAIT there will be more maps on the way I MEAN COMMON DO YOU REALLY THINK ZIPPER WOULD MAKE A GAME WITH WHAT 12-15 maps (sorry if its not exact) and call it good? NO...I can assure you there will be more maps. MAG is a game you def have to get into, I mean i went over to a friends house (with my PS3)and he owns strictly a 360 but isn't a fan boy...he tried mag but didn't really get into it...his younger brother who is about 2 years younger played it and I asked him what did you think of it?, he said "ehh"...then later that day he asked HEY can I play MAG again on your PS3 and i said Yeah sure and the game GREW on him, He loves it and now is trying to convince his brother to get a PS3 with their money combined. I mean Yeah MAG isn't the best looking game but you can't just paint every little thing you see with red, you don't seem to do that with MASS EFFECT 2. Yeah its a great game but it has its major flaws just like MAG does, I expect GR to do this to MAG I really did, I'd like to see you guys give it another review in about 6 months though and see what happens.
  • keaton121 - February 25, 2010 5:13 p.m.

    good game. only problem is that some of the wepons seem genaric. this is way better than MW2 i think. i insist that people get this game only if they have a mic. bad ass game 5/5
  • rossc5 - February 24, 2010 4:13 p.m.

    Played MAG and leveled up to 10 and counting. Really like it since I have a good group of friends I made on the game. We all have mic's to which really helps. I actually prefer this to Modern Warfare 2. For me it feels like it has more strategy and teamwork. Which is lacing in some modern shooters. The only game I play as much as this is probably Team Fortress 2 (PC). If you have a PS3 I say get the game. Once you get into it you wont be able to put it down!
  • crumbdunky - February 22, 2010 2:46 p.m.

    Oh, well GR, I don't know which MAG you played or why you kept choosing to spawn away from your squad but the MAG I play is a more rewarding shooter than any of those you(stupidly, as none are even the same kind of games as all support going camping and lone wolfing unlike MAG)compared it unfavourably to. Fact is it's getting better everyday and is certainly an acquired taste(like ALL true team games from TF2 onwards)but your review really doesn't reflect anything like the current situation playing MAG. Seriously, it sounds like either you didn't give it more than a couple of hours or are just being obtuse for some reason. Anyway, can't agree. It won't be for everyone(but wasn't ever meant to be as Sony aren't stupid enough to think a squad shooter this size was ever anything but niche appeal)but, honestly, it's nowhere near as poor as GR make out. Nowhere near.
  • bayssa - February 22, 2010 5:20 a.m.

    i don't think MAG is that bad, though it's like assassin's creed a you love game, or a you hate game... for me i love it :D, btw the console war is not over we got heavy rain and God of War III coming on :P
  • najoh712 - February 21, 2010 11:59 p.m.

    i was definiatly disapointed by this game, i waited forever for it! played it, and it wasnt that good. i agree with gameradar
  • saints3429 - February 21, 2010 4:26 a.m.

    Thank u for reviewing i for one think it deserves at least a 8 but i see the main reasons y u gave it this im usually playing with a competent squad and platoon but thanks again 4 the review
  • TheWebSwinger - February 20, 2010 8:15 p.m.

    Not a fan of this article's characterization of stoners. Seriously, who eats hash cake..?
  • MateoC - February 20, 2010 5:48 p.m.

    Not much time at all. Both sides almost always head to the same area. It takes less than MW2 actually because you always have a clear idea where the other side will be. Spawn points for each time are on opposite of the objective. One side heads to the objective to destroy it while the other is spawned right by it. At most you'll spend 20-30 seconds finding someone on the other side.
  • jm42445 - February 20, 2010 1:15 p.m.

    I spend enough time running around MW2's maps looking for people...I can't imagine how long it would take on these big ass maps
  • tjkjr1992 - February 19, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    I'm happy with the game. Unlike MW2, I can play this to a degree that I feel satisfied enough with my progress. I think Zipper would do well to release the game with a headset though. When you get enough people that talk and communicate and have fun while they're playing, I find MAG more enjoyable than Call of Duty. But if you don't, you get the kamikazes and you do very poorly. Kudos to GamesRadar for holding off the review until they had time to play it.
  • aberkromby - February 19, 2010 4:06 p.m.

    Why do the larger review sites say that MW2 is one of the greatest first person shooters, while the majority of user reviews state that MW2 isnt a good game. even when compared to things like Haze Bottom line, Mag is better than MW2 for 1 reson: It works. MAG may be more generic, but its servers are reliable and contain minimal lag. The guns are generic, but at least they dont have a certain class that is overpowered. The sniper rifles are a bit weak, but you dont have assholes who think no-scoping is realistic. the melee attak is mediocre, but at least the knife range is below 5 feet. The factions are all the same, but at least it is remotely balanced. MAG simply works.
  • philipshaw - February 19, 2010 11:50 a.m.

    For what I played that seems fair, I thought it was "meh" and that only the hardcore will get into it
  • banjokazoozie - February 19, 2010 11:47 a.m.

    this game is insane!!
  • sexyman500 - February 19, 2010 7:53 a.m.

    yeah just asking wtf does troll mean? and @mateoC you said something bout GR being owned by Microsoft but i can see clearly a PlayStation official magazine logo at the bottom right of my screen?
  • MateoC - February 19, 2010 6:44 a.m.

    Also, the reviewer spent more time talking about what kind of people are talking (or not) on mics and spawn points than the actual game. This review is utter crap and should not be trusted. Go to GameSpot, they actually played the game.
  • reaperman22 - February 19, 2010 6:17 a.m.

    @xboxrulez, first of all go learn to speak and write properly and second you clearly don't love your xbox 3shitty as much as you say as you spend all your time trolling through games radar being a tosser and trying to start flame wars.
  • MateoC - February 19, 2010 6:13 a.m.

    MAG is better than most shooters. This review is fail. I mean seriously after reading the review, the reviewer basically docked it points for not being as explodey, pretty or fast as other shooters. Wow what a solid argument, it is soooo convincing. I played the game and the experience is far better than MW2, Killzone 2 or BF: BC. Why? No instantaneous deaths from headshots like in K2. It is less random than all three games, has more teamwork and most importantly it has dedicated servers where the other three do not. At most in MAG you wait 18 seconds to respawn, AT MOST and in a 20-30 minute game that isn't too long. For how far you have to go, it differs from no distance travelled to get to where you want to be to about 20 seconds to get to your desired destination. tl;dr This article failed to give a convincing argument beyond shallow reasons to say why it is not as good as other shooters. FAIL ARTICLE IS FAIL.

Showing 1-20 of 55 comments

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