Look above you as hundreds of people are parachuting towards their objectives. MAG reveals player ipseity through central command and engaging 256-player online matches that are a sight for the eyes to see. MAG is another wonderful creation from Zipper Interactive and Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEE) to delve players into the strife of combat and the grueling circumstances in which it revolves. While skirmishes are close and personal on an objective-based scale, MAG provides the thrill of bullets flying through the air and teamwork at an apex that is hard to withstand. MAG is without its problems such as small repetitive elements throughout the overall tone of the game, but becomes completely exhilarating during the moment. MAG undoubtedly presents a prodigious look into warfare and combat through an immense venue of a lot of squads and too much action at the same time. MAG is filled with objectives for different teams, formidable enemy squads, incredible map design, and a lot of opportunities to use individual skills and teamwork along with objective coordination to earn a powerful reward: the feeling of being a soldier and fighting for a greater cause.
Every player is required to choose a siding faction within MAG which involves three private military companies: S.V.E.R., Valor, and Raven. The appurtenance of the combat is due to the world being engrossed in a Shadow War in which military contracts and facility wartime creates a competitive edge in the capitalistic world. Each faction itself comes with different customization options relating to appearance, weapon choices, and newer attitudes on the Shadow War. Zipper Interactive creates a sense of variety with these 3 limited choices to create a great personality that missions and MAG’s game design can work off.
Player design within MAG is monumentally important with faction-based gameplay at the core. Enlisting with a faction requires that a person stay with the faction and show loyalty at all times. MAG creates a level of teamwork and recognition not just through the battlefield or a simple lobby, but it also keeps players persistence and dedication to gaining a +5% bonus for their faction over another with a camaraderie of friends in the same faction. Players can choose to group up in one faction or players can choose to create varying teams with friends for different player profiles. Once players advance to level 60, they can change their faction for a new career type. Player design incorporates various maps that are central to certain factions that ensure different fronts are protected from the enemy. Every map for each faction has a different layout with four fronts and has its own challenges. While this can be great, there is a small amount of map repetition that can be exhibited despite the great level design. Luckily, this is nothing that a bunch of planned map packs cannot solve.
MAG mission structure in the key map areas involves four types, with only two being available at the beginning of the career Rookie stage. Supression is the typical team deathmatch mode while Sabotage presents players with a challenge to hold their own capture point, while attacking two other points from another faction to unlock and destroy a third point. These two introductory modes are 64 players only and give the audience a challenging look into the future as 64 slowly changes and grandfathers its way to 256 players in one map as part of MAG’s monumental battles.
The next modes become Acquisition (at 128 players) followed by the key gameplay element: Domination (256 players). These matches still focus on 64 player battle intensity in a certain quadrant of the multi-quadrant map that still manages to create an aptitude and concentration as part of the larger war. In Acquisition, the attacking faction tries to infiltrate enemy territory, steal a vehicle with wartime goods, and return it to their home insertion point. Acquisition can be quite intense as the quadrants are less than Domination and there are 2 quadrants in 64 player divisions as opposed to 4 that Domination makes really engaging. With Domination, the offense has to dominate a series of objectives to gain capture points which need to be kept in order to win. With not only mission-intensive objectives, the battlefields also contain strategically focused objects such as Bunkers for armored refuge on the front lines in addition to providing a haven for supplies. Turrets and sensor arrays along with mortars allow central rank-based Commanders in each unit to engage combat abilities while motor pools provide vehicles for mobility and further firepower. These facilities are critical defense outposts and can create a tremendous impact with the small close quarters combat with varying factions. An opposing team can plant charges to or destroy the material goods to weaken another factions resolves. Repairmen with a high enough rank can fix these and the battles can be extremely significant and engaging as players fight to survive, support the team, or control individual loadouts to gain ground for their faction.
Zipper Interactive really focused on MAG gameplay and mission design solely by making sure command structure is a key element. MAG has tremendous shooting mechanics and controls to compliment gameplay which becomes both rewarding and enticing when it comes to command structure. With matches of 256 players, command element is important and beyond simple mission structure and design. Command gameplay design comes in the variety of squad leaders that can designate a target for the squad to engage. While staying near a squad leader, player receive an additional boost to their abilities such as reload speed and resistance to certain enemy damage along with the most notable form of advantage characterized by double the experience on the battlefield. When a squad leader actively creates newer targets, the players can keep close and the gameplay element is ramped up to a nostalgia that emits camaraderie within the squad only seen by one other title so far on the PlayStation 3 – SOCOM: Confrontation. If a leader is not doing the proper job or the tactical advantages are not enough, squad members do not have to rely solely on rank and can nominate someone else if the need arises. Like Commanders, these Squad Leaders have access to localized abilities such as localized strikes, cluster bombs, and poison gas along with more diverse and broad help such as Sensor Sweeper and Bombardments. Platoon leaders and Officers In Charge can voice chat with everyone on command and provide immense gameplay abilities that might not be as advantageous as Squad Leaders. Role diversity and command design in MAG is completely incredible and well worth the time spent in-game fighting enemies despite a repetitive element in mission design.
MAG creates not just differing kinds of soldiers from Squad Leaders to Platoon Officers, but also it furthers a level of camaraderie in working for the team that has been exhibited on a more massive scale. While MAG may seem a lot like SOCOM: Confrontation in creating a beautiful atmosphere of wartime camaraderie and squad life, it is based on an entirely more massive scale with a different gameplay design and more strategic elements for different rank structures. MAG carries through not just an experience of war itself, even if it may seem repetitive to a point, but in addition an experience of teamwork, tactical dimension, and coordination unrivaled.