"Squadron leader PSN: MitchKoobski reporting in."
MAG is an achievement. It was either going to be an impressive technological feat, or a complete disaster. 256 players in one online match on home consoles. From the makers of SOCOM, this PS3 exclusive first person shooter is online only but is a solid game and definitely playable by anyone. You participate in:
- 32 v 32, same faction training matches
- 64 v 64, faction vs faction matches
- 128 vs 128, huge ground war matches, unlocked at rank 8
I’ll be honest in saying that while the game can be fun before rank 8, but once you unlock domination mode it really kicks off.
You have three basic factions. Valor(elite mercenaries, mostly American),SVER(Middle East and Russia) and Raven(Hi-Tech European and American). There’s an attempt at giving each of these groups a background or reason as to why they’re fighting, but you just won’t care. Everyone is pretty much battling for supremacy over a live world map. Unfortunately, once you create your character and choose a team, you’re stuck with him. You’ll have to reach the level cap at level 60 to be able to create a new character/profile without losing your old one. It’s my biggest problem with the game so I may as well get it out of the way. Trying to co-ordinate a squad with your friends is made even more difficult now because you’ll most likely have joined different factions and can’t be on the same team. Once you’ve started anyway, you have the option of complete training. I skipped this and jumped straight into a 64 player game. It took maybe two matches to get to rank 3 where the 128 player matches where unlocked. Things went along nicely until rank 8 when the main 256 player mode was unlocked. Domination mode. One army attacking and one army defending their base. The attackers need to capture the main control points to cause enough damage to the stronghold before the 30 minute match is over. However, you first have to get past the cooling towers, anti-air battery’s and bunkers that litter the battlefield. These types of matches make all the difference to the game’s online war.
Your army is divided up into platoons and squads. The 128 player army has one overall leader, the OIC (Officer in Charge). They give the overall orders. The army is divided up into 4 platoons of 32, each with a platoon leader. Each platoon has 4 squads of 8, and a squad leader for each. Once you reach level 15, you can apply to lead a squad before the match starts. And it’s awesome. I became a squad leader for a Domination game and got to lead my squad of 8 into battle and give them orders. I called in a cluster bomb drop on top of an enemy bunker, then gave the order or take the bunker. All other 7 members of my squad dropped what they were doing and went straight for the bunker. We worked as a team; 4 attacking and 4 defending. Then the platoon asked me and the other 3 squad leaders to capture points A and B. Every platoon across the map was now charging towards the enemy stronghold with APC’s following them, and re-spawning players parachuting in from overhead. I ordered my squad to blow the doors to point B and move in. We held the control point long enough to cause enough damage and win the game. So I jumped straight back into another game…….and didn’t get to be squad leader this time.
The decision to split the army into squads and platoons was very clever as it keeps the game from feeling too overwhelming, but unfortunately there can be times when you’ll be lost in some area just looking for someone to shoot. Then when everyone swarms the one building it can lead to chokepoints with too much going on and before you know it, half your platoon has been wiped out by one squad with good aim. It’s rare but when more than 30 people do end up in the one place, it’s best to hang back and just pick them off. Charging in without preparation will get messy, but you can always upgrade. Upgrading your soldier is done through skill points. Gain a rank, gain a skill point. You can pick and choose what weapons, skills or equipment you want and then save it as a load out or class.
It’s not without some other grievances I haven’t already mentioned. Having a headset of some sort will help you greatly. Having a squad leader or platoon leader that doesn’t have a headset, and things are going to get bad. Re-spawning can also get annoying, especially when you die right next to an enemy stronghold, have to wait 20 seconds to re-spawn, and then make it all the way back over only to die again. The big question is will it drag you away from MW2? The answer depends. It depends if you like working with a team. If you like doing your own thing and going nuts on some enemy players, then play MW2. If you like working as a team, hate being killed by one guy camping a spawn point, and can’t stand when people rage-quit, then MAG is for you. It beats MW2 when it comes to tactics and community. I haven’t been back to MW2 in weeks. MAG gives you a chance. I have yet to come across a screaming 12 year old or complete asshole. There’s no ‘I’ in MAG.
If you want to just shoot some guys at your own pace, or if you want to lead a squad into battle, MAG lets you do both. The graphics aren’t exactly amazing, and I have spotted a few glitches with dead bodies, but MAG works and works well.