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Let’s get one thing straight right from the off: I’m shit at COD. Oh sure, I’ve finished both Modern Warfares on Veteran with my sanity and personal hygiene (barely) intact. But pit me against a P90-wielding fourteen-year-old from Arkansas on the land of the interwebs and I absolutely crumble. Want further proof of my sheer shittyness? I had to knock back five cans of the strongest French lager known to man in an effort to sooth my shattered nerves during our 24 hour Modern Warfare 2 marathon.
Which brings me onto MAG. Normally I stay away from any online game that forces me to shoot other folk. Thanks to my stupid sausage fingers, I’m invariably always half a second too slow in pulling the trigger. Couple this with the gale force tantrums I throw when I lose and you’re probably getting why I avoid playing shooters on the net like one of those plagues that makes you piss fire before your knob drops off.
Now don’t get me wrong, MAG has loads of problems. With fugly textures and drab maps, it looks about as appealing as road kill. The guns feel like firing Super Soakers next to COD’s ferocious firearms. And it can take ages to get into a 256 player game. I’m totally convincing you it’s better than Modern Warfare 2 online, right? Woah, just hold off on the straight jackets and horse tranquilisers for a second. While it’s true MAG can’t compete with the amazing engine Infinity Ward has built technically, it can beat the shit out of COD tactically.
Above: Which one's MAG, again?
The game that made Captain Price’s face fuzz famous is built around twitch shooting. If you’ve not got the reactions of a paranoid, caffeine-addicted meerkat you’re going to spend most of your time staring at death cams. By contrast, MAG is like a (slightly homicidal) stroll in the park. It’s all methodical battles to defend bases and mini wars of attrition. For a control freak obsessed with keeping his kill death ratio in the plus column, the game’s slower, more controlled approach coupled with the huge maps, means I can pick and choose my battles.
Unless you’ve got thumbs of granite and the precognitive abilities of midget, amphibian Jedi (Yoda’s definitely a frog, yeah?), COD is seriously unforgiving. Because of the level up system, there’s never parity with the guns. Most players I meet will always be manned up to the molars with weapons that make my M14 look like something I’ve built out of cereal boxes, sticky tape and prayers. But with MAG, even when using the rubbish default weapon sets, I’ve always got a chance… mainly because my man can suck up shrapnel like a bullet-resistant sponge.
In contrast, if I eat a few well-placed cartridges in MW2 my shit’s going down in a crumpled, twitching heap. Realistic? Yup. Fair? Hell no. Where you can get gunned downed within a couple of seconds of respawning in COD, you always re-enter MAG a fair distance away from its firefights. Sure, having to sprint thirty seconds to find a fellow man to riddle with lead is a pain in the ass. But at least it gives me time to find my bearings before they get shot off.
There’s definitely no ‘I’ in MAG’s team. Well, not unless you’re shit at spelling. Because most matches demand tactical coordination within squads, I found fellow players were always looking after me. They healed me with med packs when I took damage. Watched my back when I entered enemy territory. And, crucially, let me know if there was a man behind me waiting to shish kebab my bladder with an AK. MAG gave me a sense of community I’ve never had with COD.
Above: Bromance between me and my MAG team-mates has been rife
So there you have it. A rant of Tom Cruise on Oprah proportions that’ll no doubt convince you I’m a raving mentalist. But, stick me in MAG, and you’ve got one happy raving mentalist.
Feb 8, 2010
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