MAG Updated Hands-On

We jumped headfirst into the carnage of MAG's closed beta and fought it out in the Acquisition mode.

Zipper Interactive's latest project is certainly ambitious. Following on from the SOCOM series, the developer's new PlayStation 3-exclusive shooter, MAG, will support up to 256 players per map. The team has designed a new game engine and network infrastructure to facilitate this, and from our time with the beta, it's certainly shaping up to be an online shooter like no other.

Set 20 years in the future, you play as a soldier in a "shadow war" among three private military contractors: the gung-ho Valor, the high-tech Raven, and the guerrilla-like SVER (Seryi Volk Executive Response). We chose to go into battle as a Valor soldier and customised our character and kit before jumping into a match. Each team has five characters and three voice signatures to choose from, as well as a number of different fatigue colours. You're also given 3,400 credits, MAG's in-game currency, to spend on weapons and equipment, and you can save preset loadouts into five slots to ensure you're prepared for any situation.

Your loadout is split into five slots--primary weapon, backup weapon, gear, heavy gear, and armour/apparel--and each slot can hold one item. There were several weapons to choose from, including the M4A1 and Mk 14 Mod 0 EBR assault rifles, as well as the MK46 Mod 0 machine gun, although the M9 was the only sidearm that was available. You can also equip additional items, such as fragmentation and smoke grenades, first aid kits, and vehicle repair kits in the gear slot. The heavy gear slot can add some serious firepower to your arsenal, such as the MK 153 Mod 0 rocket-propelled grenade, and this comes in really handy when trying to take down a vehicle. Finally, you can equip light, medium or heavy armour, depending on whether you prefer mobility or protection.

It looks like there'll be plenty of variety in MAG's match types, although most were unavailable in the beta. These include domination, where you have to fight over eight control points; sabotage, where you need to capture or defend three pieces of valuable intel; and training, for when you need to get in some practice. We played a lot of the Acquisition mode, which supported up to 128 players on a map called Elk Bay Logistics. The objective was for each team to either steal or defend several prototype transport vehicles located inside sea containers at a Valor base. To steal a vehicle, you need to hack a nearby security pad and then drive the vehicle back to your base.

With so many players on each map, gameplay is frantic and intense.

As part of the Valor team, we played a defending role in every match while Raven players attacked our base. Although the primary objective was to defend our transports, our team also needed to protect an antiair battery from attack and ensure that any stolen transports were destroyed before they reached Raven's base.

Each team is split into four eight-man squads, designated alpha, bravo, charlie, and delta. We were auto-assigned to one but could switch to another when there was a spare slot, and we needed to join a queue before we could get into a match. Thankfully, the wait was relatively quick, and we're happy to report that we didn't run into any lag issues once we jumped into the game. Once you've earned enough experience on the battlefield, you will be able to apply for leadership positions before each map, although these weren't available to fresh recruits like us. Each team has several spawn points, and one of these was the ubercool bunker. In addition to healing any troops that enter it, the bunker comes equipped with a remote-controlled chain gun on its roof, and you can commandeer this to mow down nearby enemy troops.

MAG's gameplay is fast and frantic, and with so many players on the map, you constantly run into trouble. Despite housing 128 players, the map didn't feel overcrowded, although when players swarmed to certain areas, there tended to be a few bottlenecks. With so many enemies to contest with, it becomes rather difficult to complete objectives single-handedly, and it seems that coordinated teamwork will play a vital part in winning each round.

MAG doesn't deviate from standard shooter conventions, so the controls are laid out as expected; however, we did notice one odd control mechanism: Pressing the L2 button scrolls through your gear (for example, frag grenade, first aid kit, and RPG) and the R2 button switches between your primary and secondary weapons. To change from an assault rifle to the RPG and back, for instance, might require five button clicks, and when you're getting shot at, this feels like an eternity. When you're critically injured, you will "bleedout," which gives your teammates a chance to revive you if they're quick enough. Unfortunately, none of our teammates gave us a chance at redemption, and this may've been due to the fact that we were usually gunned down in the most hotly contested areas of the map. There's lots of information onscreen, including squad details, a 3D map of the battlefield, markers and distance pointing to objectives, and the number of transports that have been captured.

With such open terrain, there are plenty of places to ambush enemies.

At the end of each round, you can see how much experience you've accumulated, such as 5XP for a kill, 50XP for achieving the primary objective as a team, or, if you're unfortunate enough, -5XP for friendly kills. There are also plenty of stats to check out, including win/loss records, highest ranked squads and players, and leaderboards for your squad and all players on the map.

MAG is currently due out next January in North America, with Europe yet to get a firm release date. For more on this promising online shooter, check out our video preview which features the Sabotage match type, and be sure to check back for more information as the release date approaches.

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Luke Anderson

Former staff writer for GameSpot.co.uk, now marketing guy for a certain major online retailer....
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144 comments
MassMayham57_
MassMayham57_

I really hope this game is a success. I cant wait till monday when the public beta comes out

Ivory-Dynamite
Ivory-Dynamite

Wow MAG or MAD (Massive Action Demon) 1st day buy for sure.

Irish-J
Irish-J

I bought a PS3 only for the exclusive titles since I have a 360 and have found myself buying every game for the PS3, while my xbox sits! I'm sooooo glad I broke down and got it and with titles like this coming out.....money well spent!! Thank you Play Station, I can't freakin wait for this game!!!!

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

I used to say I wish I had a PS3 (Back when my Xbox360 still was in the house, and worked) But now I say I'm buying this day one! Because I have a PS3 slim! And love it! Playing Killzone 2 and loving every second of it! WHAT A POWERFUL PLATFORM! This is the best thing I have bought in a long time. Not even the 80GB PS3 I had was better then this one. Glad I stuck with the box till the slim came out. (Of course my DCD tray in the Xbox360 Elite I had did die, but eh I got a PS3 slim now)

Omaciel
Omaciel

wow this is sooooooooooooooooooo getting bought

vboydjr
vboydjr

Just wish it had an option to switch to a 3rd person view like SOCOM.

NickBravo
NickBravo

as long as no or little lagging is involved looks good.

misterxkato
misterxkato

Working for a company in the video game industry, I was lucky enough to attend the 2009 E3 Expo and got to play this hands on. I must say, it's quite different from what we are use to (call of duty, medal of honor, etc.) . In call of duty it's really fast pace and there isn't really anything to watch out for except yourself. However in MAG, it's more organized like the military, where you are placed into patuones and each one has a seperate mission (while being in the massive 256). The more you follow directions the faster you rank and so on and so on .. i would say it's a must buy for the ps3.

Ravage27
Ravage27

To all those doubters out there, just try to get your hands on a beta code and believe me, you will LOVE this game. Absolutely epic, i'm struggling with exams yet i still find myself playing the beta every night :p

OF-5
OF-5

Man I cant wait for this:D Between Call of Duty MW2, Bad Co. 2 and Operation Flashpoint and this its going be a shooters paradise!

snipermx06
snipermx06

i got the beta key a couple of weeks ago. it is a must buy for ps3 owners so far i have not experience any lag while playing and the battle is massive. i can't believe zipper could actually pulled off 256 players with no lag.

Raykuza
Raykuza

Looks to me like a souped up CoD4.

DanOwns1207
DanOwns1207

I find it kind of ironic that Microsoft has never had a developer attempt something like this, being how revered XBL is. PSN is free, but it will still be first to try this.

GameFan1983
GameFan1983

still thinking if I should get this, according to this video, the animation from running and aiming behind the gun view seem pretty weak...

R2-D2-586
R2-D2-586

I want to see the server of that thing... Will it have lag?How many rooms´ll be avalible? But this is already on my must buy list together with gt5

Nobri
Nobri

Funny how every time I go to a board for a PS3 exclusive games, someone always says "I wish I had a PS3!" I just think it's amusing. I wish I had a PS3...

dukelvr13
dukelvr13

I think this looks like an awesome game I hope it is T though......

TokeyPotter
TokeyPotter

This is what I've been waiting for! I play the crap out of SW Battlefront II and this looks just as addicting. I'm still wishing for a Battlefront III as I prefer rapid firing lasers to the clunky reloading. Just mho.

shadowsalem
shadowsalem

This actually looks pretty good but as long as you have alot of weapons and good gameplay it looks good

flibblewerfer
flibblewerfer

do u have to subscrie or no? i havnt been able to find an answer anywhere

NoSoup4Me
NoSoup4Me

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

SilvrSlayr96
SilvrSlayr96

this is gonna be revolutionary to the world of FPSs

deedaw
deedaw

Hope it works out.... the last game like this i remember coming out was Soldner.... I think we all know how that turned out.

JusticeFromSeed
JusticeFromSeed

This may be just what Sony needs to boost those PS3 Slim sales! Like any new system, they're selling well already, but let's see what the introduction of a kickass shooter like MAG will do with it!

bigbomber25
bigbomber25

I've put in over 8+ hours of gametime...and I can say this right now I LOVE IT !!! Got my beta key and gave it a go...and the gameplay just rocks ! NO LAG WHAT SO EVER !! For those who continue to knock it saying that no way you can go without major lag...I personaly cant wait to get my hands on the full game. But till then I'll continue to enjoy this awesome beta...

JustinJS425
JustinJS425

@ TowlsonPS3 I agree I have played it a bit and it had been solid as a rock. The only complaint I have is the graphics are not up to par but it is still in beta so i expect them to get better. As for the game play I would give it a 9.5/10

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

Sounds cool. Hope there is an open beta soon.

scrawya
scrawya

got a ps3 just in time.

nala26
nala26

y u hate the ps3 BrainedMyDamage? there are other good games too.

BrainedMyDamage
BrainedMyDamage

I think if this game gets a 9.5 or higher, I will put my hatred of the PS3 aside and buy one. Just for this game.

BadKarma_
BadKarma_

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

playstation_dad
playstation_dad

i love the idea of this game but i know that if i get to command i will probably get everyone killed lol

jrco666
jrco666

Was really looking forward to it, but after playing it a couple days in beta, not impressed. Game would have to change a great deal by its release date for me to give MAG a second look.

adv_tr00per
adv_tr00per

this is one of the reasons i wanna get a ps3 sooo badly. i don't have the money though :(

TowlsonPS3
TowlsonPS3

Oh there is no lag aswell ive played on it loads and not one time has it crashed or lagged

TowlsonPS3
TowlsonPS3

This game is so amazing i have the beta but it runs out 2 moz. But is very gd 9/10 for me !!

jin-ro
jin-ro

looks awesome !!!! just hope that wont be a problem with internet, 256 players..........hmmmm

Bashers79
Bashers79

Think i'll wait till its been out for a few weeks and read the player reviews, closed Beta is different from the full game running on packed servers, i'm worried my internet connection won't be able to cope. I really hope it works fine and theres no lag issues though, I could really get into a game like this.

koominseo
koominseo

should i wait for this instead of mw2? i have kz2, but i already have played over 80hours. I don't know if kz2 can hold onto another 3 months.

TheJessMan
TheJessMan

Does this game support keyboard and mouse?

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

"the controls are laid out as expected; however, we did notice one odd control mechanism: Pressing the L2 button scrolls through your gear (for example, frag grenade, first aid kit, and RPG) and the R2 button switches between your primary and secondary weapons" so is it abit like mgs controls, if yes then good.

BaLLz_ON_FiRE
BaLLz_ON_FiRE

Wait so this game runs in full 720p with 256 players online and Modern Warfare 2 runs in sub HD 600p Really tough choice ...

Ravage27
Ravage27

i've been playing the beta for some time now and i really love it. To all the naysayers, try it before you comment. The scale is really EPIC and though i prefer the feel of KZ2, this is a game COD players will easily adapt to.

Temmex
Temmex

I got lucky enough to be able to participate in the beta and i would have to say that they hit it on the head except that you dont use credits to buy more guns and perks, but instead you use skill points that you get every time you level. I would also hope that there are way more guns and perks in the finished game, because if not i feel it will get old very quickly with nothing to really work toward. The Leadership system also works very well except that if you have a bad leader (which is pick randomly from those who can lead) then your squad gets nowhere. I like that this game really emphasizes teamwork and i personally think this game is not fun going on your own. The large scale of this game is awesome, you really dont grasp it till you are in a game, but trust me, its big. And the final thing that i know you all want to know. Does it lag........................? Well i have played it quite extensively and I would have to say you will see more lag in COD than you will in MAG. I have only ever been in one instance with any notable lag and it lasted for a minute maybe and I'm pretty sure it was my connection that was slowing down. I am not being a fanboy here, i am simply stating my experience with lag in this game and am in no way saying it is that way all the time and for everyone but i never hear people speaking of lag problems online. This is the beta though so we'll see when the full game finally drops.