MAG: What's the verdict on Sony's online FPS?

The embargo for MAG reviews lifts tomorrow (5pm GMT) and most folk will gladly be posting them, and no doubt you'll come to GamesRadar to, amongst other things, check out our Super Review, right? Well, erm, we won't have one tomorrow. But before you resign yourself to a day of stalking that ex you had back in high school on Facebook, hear us out.

We went to the same review event as everyone else and really wanted to deliver a verdict on MAG like the other magazines/websites will. But the truth is, we feel said review event didn’t give an accurate representation of what MAG is actually like – or what type of experience you’d have in this online-only FPS.

 Above: This impossibly large-armed man held the debrief meetings

There was zero sense of progression, we couldn’t communicate with our team-mates as the headsets didn’t work properly and we spent more time being ‘debriefed’ between games (read: talked through the controls) and eating from ration boxes than we were allowed game time. If we’d scored it based on the event it’d probably get a 5 or a 6.

 Above: This is a far cry from what real troops eat from these

So what we’re going to do is wait. Wait until the servers can really be stress-tested and wait until you’re playing it too. This way we can tell if there’s another experience to be had apart from the clusterf*ck of bullets and respawning as the event suggested.

True, this isn’t much help if you’re trying to decide whether to buy MAG on Day 1, but below is a Q&A which we hope will assist in your decision...

Q: Is it any good?

A: Ummm, it works. MAG has similarities to many online FPS games you’ve already played. It has the huge landscapes like Battlefield, the rolling objectives like Killzone 2 and the not too dissimilar punch of Modern Warfare’s guns. But sadly it’s nowhere near as good as any of them. Why? Well, we can’t shake the fact that those said games have a single player campaign for your money. MAG doesn’t. It doesn’t have a USP beyond hosting 256 players online.

Q: It's online-only, yeah, how does it play?

A: Well, here’s the thing – during the review event we played four game modes. The first three were Suppression and Sabotage (both 64 players max.) and Acquisition (128). These were all played over LAN, so there were no online servers to test here. They all ran pretty smooth, which you’d expect from a LAN setup.

Then it was time for the showcase piece – the 256 player Domination match. It was the journalist in an underground bunker in London versus the employees of Zipper Interactive in the US and, well, it was super-laggy. Targets would skip frames of animation as you were taking aim and the battlefield became a stop-motion cartoon for the majority of the action. This *may* have been down to a poor connection at either end, but based on this evidence, MAG wasn’t especially enjoyable at full capacity.

Q: Hmm, are the game modes interesting?

A: Yes. Suppression is essentially a team death-match mode. Sabotage is a bit more interesting as you secure point A and B before C is revealed and you have to attack/defend it. Acquisition is better. Here you have to take out AA guns, bunkers and the like before pushing the enemy back and taking them out. Domination is a mix of Sabotage and Acquisition in that you have to destroy cooling towers before your final objective is opened.

Our main gripe with the objectives in these modes is that they weren’t immediately clear as to what you were supposed to do next. We had headsets at the event but you couldn’t hear a damn thing that the other person was saying because it was too noisy to hear anything, so it was a case of trial and error to succeed.

On the next page: What makes it good, the different factions and is it worth buying? 


  • aberkromby - February 9, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    I agree, but id like to add one thing: Mag servers are actually acceptable, unlike infinity ward's crappy host system. mw2's severs actually managed to be WORSE than cod4's. btw: Join SVER. add me: FiftyFullMags
  • burkey01 - February 3, 2010 7:54 p.m.

    i think ill wait for bb2 ok
  • aberkromby - January 31, 2010 5:27 p.m.

    I just bought the game. After playing a couple games of domination, I have to say: this puts Modern Warfare 2 to shame. You dont realize how poorly designed and flawed the leveling system in MW2 is until you play MAG.
  • JakX - January 29, 2010 9:41 p.m.

  • JakX - January 29, 2010 9:38 p.m.

    The MAG Beta was really cool, the only problem i had w/ it was the armor, higher lvl armor weighed more and slowed ur character down significantly, but it shouldn't have effected the rotation speed of ur character, even w/ the sensitivity all the way up i haf horrible rotation speed
  • lethalcodeine - January 28, 2010 6:35 a.m.

    Not sure on this game. I'm still a COD kinda guy. I don't care what people say. COD is the best shooter out there. And I'm just like everyone else in that I dispise campers. Try objective based modes such as good ol Domination.
  • Ravenbom - January 27, 2010 6:44 p.m.

    After playing the beta, I've had my fill of the game. Like it's been said, the pricing may have something to do with the way I feel about the game. It's just not as good as say, Team Fortress 2. Everyone has a role in that game and you have to work as a team because of it. In MAG everyone plays about the same and you never feel the need to try to work as a team because there's no rock-paper-scissors mechanic at work under the hood to force you to play as a team.
  • JohnnyMaverik - January 27, 2010 4:03 p.m.

    That should have read "jaded gamer eyes", always forget you don't have an edit button on the comments sections :( Also sorry for the rest of the inevitable typos and spelling mistakes in the above rant that I won't have picked up on.
  • JohnnyMaverik - January 27, 2010 4 p.m.

    I never liked the sound of these review events anyway, surely it'd be better to review a game in your own, more familiar gaming evironment, rather than a sterile and controlled day out. I meen surely even if they just shut you in a room on your own and let you get on with it (which I believe I'm right in saying is something that sometimes happens) it's still not quite the same as sitting infront of a familiar normal sized tv, with your favouret controller in your hand, in a nice safe feeling chair, with your jaded games eyes staring at a screen hoping against hope that you're about to experiance something unexpected and great. There again I'm not a professional reviewer and have never been to a review event so what would I know. I'd submit it as the askagamesjornalist question or the gamesradar uk question for the week but I'm a little bit banned from the forums until friday... but feel free to treat it as my submission is your reading this TalkRadar US and UK hosts! Also @ Chris and Nathan Take me together O.o
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  • GamesRadar_NathanIrvine - January 27, 2010 9:51 a.m.

    Firstly, thanks for the kudos, Chris *slips unmarked envelope across the table* Secondly, I understand the quibbles with regards us not reviewing MAG based on our combined experiences between the beta and the review event (read: an introduction to the other game modes) but it felt like we'd be doing a disservice to you and Zipper who no-doubt would've preferred a more comprehensive event for their game. The stress-test on the servers will come when everyone can play it, not just a select crew of beta testers or the gaming press in a bunker under London. Sony informed us yesterday that 'there wasn't enough bandwith assigned to us during the day, but it was fixed for the evening event' (which we weren't invited to), so this may explain the lag issues. They also told us that 'it wasn't a LAN setup on the day' and it was all played out on 'test servers'. While I'll hold my hands up and say 'my bad' for the LAN comment, the 'test servers' were just for *test* purposes, and still contained a bit of lag. In a massively, roundabout way, what I'm trying to reinforce is that I'm sure you'd rather we gave our verdict of MAG based on what YOU will be playing rather than what we played in a controlled environment. Call it old fashioned, but we like to play the complete version of a game before we review it. And truth be told, if you're already pumped for MAG, you're going to buy it regardless of what we have to say, right? Hopefully our review will serve a purpose to those who aren't sure whether to get MAG or not. In the meantime feel free to leave questions about MAG here, and I'll do my best to answer them based on my review event experience. Out.
  • skynetiscoming - January 27, 2010 2:13 a.m.

    I have a friend who said "It's good but it's really, really hard. You come out from cover and your dead." Although he said it was fun, I can't imagine having 128 cross-hairs trained on me so I can't move being fun for more than 20 minutes. Also can't think of a multiplayer game being "hard," rather the player's are good, which doesn't seem to matter if there are a sh*t ton of them.
  • Pocotron - January 26, 2010 9:27 p.m.

    Oh, Chris, you sly dog you!
  • GamesRadarChrisAntista - January 26, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    Are a couple of Sony fanboys REALLY suggesting we review something based on the beta?! Take a step back for a moment... now imagine if we did that, and gave the game a score you didn't like... Oh, how outraged you would hypothetically be! I've been to numerous PREVIEW events where the multiplayer latency conditions shit the bed, and guess what? We don't write anything! And the developers almost always reschedule. Obviously, this is a trickier situation, since MAG hinges entirely on its online play and the game is out. But if you love the game enough to defend it (without having played the final version,) shouldn't you give Nathan kudos for choosing fairness over immediacy, no?
  • JohnnyMaverik - January 26, 2010 5:43 p.m.

    Kudos to GamesRadar for paying this amount of respect to the MAG developers and it's readers on attempting to deliver your most accurate review as can be possible. I for one would rather wait a while longer for a truely representative review than one based on a poorly organized and executed review event. Have a biscuit *gives gamesradar a biscuit*
  • R_U_Guys_From_British - January 26, 2010 2:49 p.m.

    Most of the time its too difficult to have 3 other players in left 4 dead who are sensible and just want to play the game, let alone trying to find another 255 like minded players for MAG
  • Adrammelech - January 26, 2010 1:59 p.m.

    Guess this game's just another "used to be dumb" game. Oh well, hope it sells.
  • charliemouse - January 26, 2010 11:10 a.m.

    I was at the launch event and we got to play a 256 player game against the Yanks later on, no lag at all. A little slowdown when things got hectic but with a bunch of drunkards running around you'd expect it to have lagged hard.
  • Spybreak8 - January 26, 2010 7:21 a.m.

    @Cwf2008 Haha, I think we're all gamers just sitting on the sidelines watching this thing try to take off.
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