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?
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?
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?
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?