MAG II Wireless Gun Controller Review

The MAG II is an overpriced and unreliable peripheral that makes playing all your favourite shooters a throughly frustrating experience.

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It boggles the mind how some products ever make it past that first eureka moment and become a real, physical thing that sits on store shelves. Whether it's the Virtual Boy, the iPotty, or the notorious Shake Weight, there are some ideas best left in the dark recesses of a designer's head. That's especially true of the MAG II Gun, a motion controller for the PlayStation 3 and PC that's one of the most frustrating peripherals to have graced this console generation.

You can see the logic here: gamers like shooters, shooters feature guns, so why not have a controller that is a gun? Unfortunately, playing shooters like Call of Duty and Killzone with the MAG II is more difficult and less fun than playing with a control pad, a keyboard and mouse, or even the Move. The MAG II works wirelessly via a small USB dongle and is compatible with most PC and PS3 games, although it's primarily designed for use with Call of Duty. Essentially, the peripheral replaces the right analogue stick, or mouse, allowing you to aim by pointing it at your target. On top of the trigger grip are the four standard X, square, circle, and triangle buttons for reloading and swapping weapons, while the second grip houses an analogue stick for character movement, along with a D-pad.

The layout is surprisingly comfortable. The buttons themselves have a nice reassuring feel to them, while the main trigger is neatly spring-loaded. There's also a calibration button affixed to the front of the gun, while the top houses a dial for changing modes and a battery pack that satisfyingly slides in like an ammo clip. The gun feels well made, despite its plastic construction, but it's a tad on the small side: you don't know whether to hold it like a rifle with the butt on your shoulder or out in front like a pistol.

Still, that becomes the least of your worries when you plug the MAG II in. For starters, the manual is woefully light, particularly when it comes to the mode dial on top of the unit. As it's described, it changes the sensitivity of the gun, with low, medium, and high settings available. The trouble is that those modes seemingly do absolutely nothing to the sensitivity of the gun. There are also a myriad of other options that work only with Call of Duty, such as a melee mode that's supposed to result in faster melee combat, and a mode that reduces weapon noise for weapons without a silencer. However, none of them had the desired effect in the game.

Then there's the way you calibrate the gun by holding down the calibration button and pointing it at the center of the screen, which is a process that works only about half the time. Even when you do get it to work, things get very bad, very quickly. Trying to navigate menus is a nightmare. Even a slight tilt of the gun causes the highlighted option to change, resulting in an epic battle between the game, the gun, and your sanity as you try to hold the gun in a motionless pose while gingerly prodding at the D-pad.

But the very worst thing about the MAG II is how it makes playing your favourite shooters unbearable. We tried it with Call of Duty: Black Ops II on the PC, as well as with Killzone 3 and Spec Ops: The Line on the PS3, and found numerous issues. First, there's a lag between your movements and those of the reticle onscreen, which is hardly what you want when you're in the middle of a heated firefight. Then there's the fact that turning your character is painfully slow. Forget about those quick, sharp 180-degree turns that you need in order to compete online. With the MAG II, the only thing you can do is pan the camera across the screen at a snail's pace, by which time you'll have already been shot, blown up, and teabagged by every other player in the match.

To even get to that slow turning speed you have to point the gun offscreen. By the time you point it back, the calibration is off, which results in all manner of weird and contorted shape pulling as you struggle to find the right angle to shoot. Sure, you could pause for calibration, but by the time you do that, you're already dead. Even in a noncompetitive single-player environment, the MAG II is just far too frustrating to bother with.

And to top it all off, the MAG II costs around £100 ($139 in the US). For that kind of money you could buy five Shake Weights, or three iPotties, or one Virtual Boy, all of which would be a far better value, way more pleasurable, and infinitely more useful than the MAG II.

Have you ever spent money on a terrible gaming peripheral? Let us know in the comments below.

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Discussion

75 comments
merigoldsass
merigoldsass

there are youtube videos explaining about updates that make this controller work properly. 

Morfessa
Morfessa

heh ... "throughly" frustrating, is it? I'm calling your English teacher, Mark!

warrner11
warrner11

MAG 2 INFERIOR 


SHARPSHOOTER SUPERIOR

KingOfTheNubeis
KingOfTheNubeis

O look someone that isn't Advertising with Cnet.

Otherwise it would be "overlooked" if they could not give it a good review :)

Urtrok
Urtrok

The price,  get it, it is expensive, but I have 2 mag guns, and I am having more fun than ever on FPS. If you play 1 time, it will be very difficult, but if you keep on playing you will get used to, and is way more fun.

Believe me guys, this Mark Walton guy is a granmma, i am sure he tried the gun 10 minutes and start to cry. I play with all my friend, about 15, all of them are carzy with the gun. I know it is expensive, i give you that Mr Walton, but the other things you said, are all bullsh*t.

So, the other people who comment on this, like this doucheb*g "DarthLod - More garbage gimmicks", just because he read the top of this review, shut the f*ck up, use the gun, more than 10 minutes, and after that commet,

Long live the games

Renoo27
Renoo27

£100!? You're fucking kidding me. What a joke. 

Dream_Hunter
Dream_Hunter

useless gadget for gaming, but would be fun for office presentations

NUMIALO
NUMIALO

yeah! love that gun... goint to buy that puppy to use on my office  excel spreadsheet  and must be great for a  slide show pointer. my boss going to love that.

Saketume
Saketume

This would make a great gag gift. I wouldn't be sad if I got one for my birthday.

A few beers and I'll think I'm Captain N

Samparksh
Samparksh

That's the exact same reason I've always trusted companies like sony,microsoft and nintendo which have a good stronghold worldwide over these independent gaming hardware makers who barely know how the next gen tech world revolves .I could beat down a pc to pieces if I experience lag during my counter strike and stuff like this really gets on my nerves.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

I won't lie. I saw MAG II, got super excited at the prospect of Massive Action Game 2, actually read the article and am now very depressed.

Lazy_Marine
Lazy_Marine

the anti gun lobby brainwashed everyone into viewing any object that looks like a gun (even remotely) as "evil" and i also predict any photos of urself or ur friends posing with a gun will garner Boos from everyone you show it off to in the near future.

CaesarIIII
CaesarIIII

Is like going back to the 90's ... you'll think that in the 21st century, they could made something better then that. 

bloody-hell
bloody-hell

The company trying to sell that thing clearly didn't use all their PR / marketing potential, they should've shown footage of a "real US marine veteran hero" (like "tough guy Mack" from UbiSoft's Ghost Recon trailers) telling us how superior this device is and how much more immersive the experience will be in COD / MOH / ... (that and some "pro player" / "elite player" video montages) - because we all know how easily impressionable their target audience is.

Heck, if I'd been in charge of marketing that thing there'd even be bikini girls posing with it - just look at how crazy that Wii sports nonsense sold just because some fit girls were shown in trailers.

I'd have given such a video a thumbs up for creativity and entertainment value, but oh well - Have a virtual thumbs up for the last picture in the article at least.

toddwill
toddwill

Well being a peripheral gamer, I like to try out new ones and actually see if the reviews are even close to actually writen subject. 

Now would I be overly skeptical about trying this one I probably would but would give it a chance, I know just by looking at it for my size it would be like an elephant holding a bow and arrow for me to aim down the sights. 

PokeMasterTrav
PokeMasterTrav

Sounds excellent i'll buy 5. lol this is one of the biggest fail periphials i've never seen in person. You move by the joystick on the handle and look around with the gun itself pointing on the screen the direction you want to look, but as they described it sounds like it works worse then a regular Wii remote and we all know how god awful aiming controls are in shooting games with a standard Wii remote. (not the Wiimote Plus)

mikeyMKII
mikeyMKII

Not about sequel to MAG...am dissapoint. =(

Neogenic
Neogenic

Oddly enough the MAG II looks somewhat like the JG Ika Zuchi Star AEG rifle...

keyb0red
keyb0red

OK, even if this thing actually works how the *&^% do you move in say COD, if both your hands are holding the gun???

or do you hold the MAG in one hand and your controller in the other? How awkward is that?


 


dnguyen3
dnguyen3

Lol probably made in China for 5 bucks. It looks like one of those dollar store toy guns. Cool how GS is reviewing stuff other than games. 

danielwd
danielwd

Great article, I'd love to see some of you guys trying it out.

HaRdNiPs
HaRdNiPs

i was skimming through the articles and paused cause i thought that there was going to be a sequel to mag but it turns out to be this. i wish sony brings back mag that game was really fun one of the best shooters i played in a long time.

tgwolf
tgwolf

Maybe so but I could always resort to type of logic most people use for picking games, i.e. get the gun anyway cause it looks pretty, play with it for hours even long after the game is turned off, lost in my own little dream world where this useless and disappointing thing is all there is in the universe...Also keep in mind that a peripheral isn't as mind-hijackingly-addictive as the games I am making reference to, so it's not like there would be permanent damage in my case, NOT SO with the games...

sigmact
sigmact

must... look ... that.... coool


GarGx1
GarGx1

The saddest thing is some small child is going to want this and Mummy will buy it!

carolino
carolino

does it kill flying ducks ?

shaunmc
shaunmc moderator staff

BUT WHAT IF I ALREADY OWN FIVE SHAKE WEIGHTS THREE IPOTTIES AND ONE VIRTUAL BOY

WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY MONEY MARK

WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY MONEY

robertcain
robertcain

While I haven't bought it, I have played the Kinect (Specifically Dance Central) and Microsoft has laughed all the way to the bank with not a single game besides the dance genre being a must own or even functioning properly most of the time, one of the biggest rip-offs in all of gaming in my opinion.

uhlv
uhlv

- Options: Cool device

- Design: crappy water gun

just my own opinion.

Logixyz
Logixyz

@CaesarIIII Yeah I was also thinking Mad Dog McCree all the way through the article.

ragnarok160
ragnarok160

@mikeyMKII I THOUGHT THE SAME THING WHEN I CLICKED ON IT. mag was the best 1st person shooter with the most respectable gameplay, mag 2 where r u?

ZackRoyer
ZackRoyer

@keyb0red I think the analog stick(if it works) in front(first image). But i don't doubt that is for turning the camera.