We played this game multiple times and will go right into our review,
The game is started by choosing which faction to join—between an American type, rogue independent group, and European military organization, and then based on this players can lightly customize their starting appearance and equipment loadout before hopping into training. A nice touch is that based on your affiliation, the menu screens will resemble the group your character represents in their aesthetics. Each organization has its own video to help explain their cause but the long story short (and the one we really care about) is that they’re all out to get each other.
Throughout the time you’ll spend with MAG, you’ll level up and eventually hit ranks where you’re giving commands to the sub-groups which the game breaks players up into. Whether its defending a base point or attempting a successful flanking maneuver, this is one of the keys to MAG’s success. Imagine if 256 people were running around individually shooting each other—it would end up like the Penny-Arcade comic where you run for five seconds and die. Because of this organization, the game suddenly creates roles for players based on how seriously they want to take the game. You can decide not to opt into a commanding role and forever run around trigger-happy, or you could choose to assume a position of greater responsibility and lead troops into battle.
This was obviously one of the best moves that Zipper could have made, in order to keep the game from becoming too disorderly. In fact, it becomes LittleBigPlanet in a way, where players are given a tool and create the reasons and uses for it—along with where their role is. The one thing that cannot be escaped from MAG is that it is very team-oriented and if you jump in planning on being John Rambo then you’ll get nowhere fast. For players looking for a more free-for-all type of FPS, they may want to hunker down with Modern Warfare 2 and skip MAG.
The gunplay is tight and fun, but nothing to write home about. Some elements of the games looks border on serviceable, and the soundtrack is pretty decent as well. The quality of the actual gameplay lies around, as mentioned, where Killzone 2 was at but a little faster and at times confusing (as to whether or not a shot connected with an enemy or where gunfire is coming from). There’s a slight learning curve in picking up the controls, but nothing that’s going to stop people from playing. Overall, the game could have used a few more tweaks or options in how it controls, but Zipper’s default setup is a pretty serviceable one.
Fortunately, the game has enough stylization in its PMC storyline and integration with the actions players will take in their online campaign, that it never feels same-y. Despite having possibly the most generic title for any game, MAG stands on its own two feet in gameplay differentiation and theory. It is a proof of concept that servers are prepared to really create a battlefield and purpose to someone’s mission, rather than feeling as though you’re crammed into a map with only 15 other guys. And if there’s one thing that MAG does well, it’s to create that feeling of being in an actual war zone. Just based on the multitude of players, I found myself constantly finding a role in my position as a soldier and have never before felt this sense of involvement in any online component of an FPS. I’m not saying that this should be an expectation of any other person who picks up MAG, but in playing Left 4 Dead or Uncharted 2’s multiplayer—I had always felt like I was very independent and just killing time. MAG gets under your skin in a weird way as a result of the scale it presents to the player and can turn up a weirdly immersed mindset.
If anything, the game is a tech demo of sorts for what is possible in online gameplay. It delivers a fun experience and whether or not that’s worth the price of admission now or until the game drops to $40 or $30 is up to how dedicated the person is. Warhawk proved that it wasn’t in vain to release a game without any single-player campaign, although it has come very far from its original release in its content—a much more full grown idea now. MAG comes in and does a few more. Surely there will be additional content available to download over time, but the proof is in the pudding and whether or not its success is lasting depends entirely on the userbase. It also incorporates a light story into its missions, which isn’t necessarily something new but still adds one more thing to ensure that it has some substance. For a game as ambitious as it is, MAG hit its target in crating a new type of online FPS environment and proved that sometimes, more is better.