Tuesday, 12 January 2010

7 Questions Review : MAG Beta

MAG Logo

Recently I announced a new type of post that I would be launching here on System Fail News called “ 7 Questions”. 7 Questions will be my way of reviewing the different games that journey into my little corner of the gaming world. The very first game that I will be putting on the hot seat is MAG, which stands for “Massive Action Game” if you didn’t know already. Read this post to hear my thoughts on the beta for the game.

1.What Is MAG?

What is MAG? If you don’t know the answer, because a) you live in a hole in the ground or b)you’re an Xbox 360 fanboy (why are you reading this?) then I will help you out by explaining what on Earth I’m going on about! Massive Action Game, or MAG for short, is a 256-player , online First Person Shooter (FPS) and although it may sound absolutely bonkers, the game is actually quite good. It was announced by Sony to be a PlayStation 3 exclusive way back in 2008 (omg last decade!) and has been in development by Zipper Interactive ever since. The game asks players from all over the world to choose a team ; the very hi-tech Raven (my team) , Valour who are very much like our military today and S.V.E.R (pronounced se-vur) who are like the ruthless mercenaries you find in most games. The story behind the game is that in the future (it’s not sci-fi) these 3 PMCs (Private Military Corporations) are all fighting each other to decide who should protect the world as countries no longer have their own individual armies. Once you’ve picked a side you must play in many different game modes attempting to defeat the enemy team by completing objectives. It gets more complex than that, but for now, that’s all you need to know.

2.What Are The Game Modes?

“Sabotage” is the first mode that you get to play and in it you have to either defend to sites “A and B”  from the other team who have to plant bombs there or vice versa. MAG also uses a levelling up system in which you can get to the next level and earn ranks, for example level 1 puts you as a “Commando”. The higher your level the more game modes you get to play. I am only level 5 but I know that reaching level 10 will allow me to play “Acquisition” where you have to steal vehicles or resources from the enemy team and they have to steal from your team too. There’s also your average team deathmatch mode (though it’s not called Team Deathmatch in MAG). The different modes in the game are very extensive and they manage to bring everyone together as a team, which is a difficult thing considering that the game has matches of up to 256 players.Sometimes it allows you to bring the team together by giving you the option to ‘request backup’ form other team-mates and also to call for a medic or for someone to repair something (such as a bunker for example). You can choose your respawn location on the map , there are 2 places with the additional paratrooper options. I saw on many an occasion that a group of 10 or so players from my spawn point would go left and another 10 would go right, it was never a coordinated split it just happened because the game made people work as a team to go to the different objectives and it worked really well, better than in MW2’s online modes.

3.What About The Characters?

I already mentioned that you can level up but what I haven’t yet told you is that you can customise your character. And I’m not just talking about your average, run-of-the-mill load-out scheme either (though you can alter that too). Right at the beginning when you very first download the beta you choose your PMC (see question 1 for a definition) and you also get the option to choose your character’s face, with the beta giving you 15 options ranging from your average All-American type soldier to being Afro-Caribbean to being an Asian character. You could even choose their voice too. The customisation only gets more extensive from then on; you get a certain amount of points to spend on your load-out choice, with each weapon/piece of equipment worth a certain amount for example you can loadout with a sniper rifle and a pistol with a medi-kit and a frag grenade if you have enough points. (These are just examples, they're not set in stone). On top of that (yes there’s more!) you can choose what type of armour your character wears : light,mid or heavy and then you can choose what that looks like too. I’m guessing that Zipper Interactive were like “Yo Dawg, I heard that you like customisation so we put customisation in your customisation so you can customise while you customise!”. Basically there’s a LOT to customise in the game.

4.So, Is It Any Good?

In short, Heck. Yeah. Everything about MAG is refined and well thought out, right form the slick & glossy graphics all the way to huge, colossal holding base structures it’s all amazing. When I typed out these questions I actually thought to myself ‘oh crap, I have nothing bad to say about the game’. It’s a lot of fun to play, and if you’ve got a few friends to play against/with then it makes it all the more worthwhile. I found myself actually smiling every time I snuck up behind someone and pumped a load of bullets into them (no, I am NOT a psycho people!) but it was just a great feeling to see “5 XP” flash up on the screen to reward me with some extra experience points for the kill. Speaking of experience points, I find that they are quite possibly the best thing about the game. The fact that you have to level up to unlock game types makes you want to try harder plus with being a higher level comes the option to command a squad, a platoon and then finally the whole entire team! You don’t do jobs for someone if you don’t think you’re going to get anything out of it and MAG doles out the 2 things that we gamers love the most : fun and a hell of a lot of firepower!

5.What Makes Us Want To Play It?

As I just mentioned, it’s so much fun! From watching various trailers and dev diaries about the game I knew that it would be awesome but to be honest the thing that made me want to play it wasn’t the 256-player online game modes or the fact that it all runs smoother than melted chocolate (I’d just like to add –> nom) but it was the guns. The reasons for playing the game will differ for everybody whether it be for a change of pace (Little Big Planet can drag on) or even to pwn your friends but for me it was the way the guns worked, even after the game brought internet connections from all of the different continents together everything about the game worked well, the bullets never stuttered and I still haven’t experienced lag at all like I have with other games and to hear the bullets of an assault rifle ricochet off a wall in the game is just plain beautiful.

6.What’s Wrong With It?

There were only a few things that annoyed me in the beta and that was the respawn times and the aim of the guns. The respawn times could range from a 5 second countdown to a 30 second countdown: the latter of which I experienced in many a match. The idea behind the frustratingly long countdowns is that it allows more players from a team to respawn together so that we can trundle off and go to the same objective together. That’s all well and good and I do enjoy staring at the luscious scenery in the game while I’m waiting to respawn but how is it my fault if no-one else on my team gets blown to smithereens as often as I do? Now, about that aim. It’s pretty much an unspoken rule of the gaming industry that assault rifles must have a shoddy aiming ability equivalent to squinting your eyes up at the sun, but it sort of takes the biscuit when I fire almost 100 bullets in the general direction of my enemy and not one of them hits him! Yeah, Zipper Interactive, please sort that out.

7. Is It Worth It?

This week I’ve been tweeting my little heart out about the frustrating download of the MAG Beta. The entire process of downloading it must have taken over half a day in total. It’s a fair enough point that downloading the oh-so-pretty visuals and what not may take a long time but even I thought that 1.8 to 2.3 GBs (depending on your area) was a but much for us to download in the week that the beta’s open considering the fact that we have to go school/work or the dole office (do other countries have “dole” money or is it just the UK?). Anyway, for all of the painstakingly long hours that I stayed up to download the bloody game it was entirely worth it. I seriously wouldn’t give up an hour of download time if it meant that MAG would be playable anytime later. It’s too late to download the beta now but you can buy the game on January 22nd.

Follow me on Twitter here > @Jasmino924

E-mail me at GamingLowdown@hotmail.com with “SFN” in the

subject line to tell me what you thought of my first ever “7 Questions”

type review :D

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