Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: MAG

This is probably Sony's most ambitious online project. Its a good way to show the user that PSN is not an underdog compared to XBL. But is it do a good? Well... depends. Before you go through this review, there are some points that I want you to know about my MAG experience: I'm a late adopter. Like a year late! I've been playing it for a month by now, reached level 50 (from max 70) and using Raven. Here is my review on MAG

Story: Well its a multiplayer only, so no story at all. But they try to build a MAG universe by announcing news or reports via website and the game, but nothing really attract me that much. The basic storyline is there are 3 Private Military Corps: the modern-ly equipped  Raven, the rebel-and-honor style SVER, and the American GI-JOE type Valor. These 3 PMCs battling through some areas to gain contract. Long story short, there are battles here and there. 
Sound of MAG: BAM!BAM!BAM!
Gameplay: If you're guessing MAG is just another FPS multiplayer experience, guess again. The core mechanic of the gameplay is pretty much different. It is still an FPS, but by the control schema, I feel encouraged to switch my gear a lot. There is no health regeneration, but you can use medical kit/first aid kit, which is very helpful in a battle. But something that feels very different is the respawn system. Unlike many other FPS where you got 'x' second to respawn, MAG has a constantly running respawn counter from 20 to 0. Means if you're dead when the counter reached 5, then you'll respawn again in 5 second. If the counter reached 19, then you'll have to wait for 19 seconds. Every player has the same counter. It means that more player will be respawned at the same time. In the beginning, it can be very annoying. But then after realizing how helpful it is to encourage team push, I'm starting to think that its a good idea. After a few moment, you'll get used to it and know when to bleed-out and when to wait for medic. 
Raven Domination Map: makes BFBC 2 Map looks tiny!
There are 4 modes in MAG plus 2 other mode if you get both DLC. There are suppression (a deathmatch like mode), Sabotage (plant the bomb type of game), Acquisition (capture the flag), and Domination (brand new for me). But most of these modes are not like the usual game. The map are huge and sometimes you have to destroy a base/turret/gate to get to the objective. Safe to say that the mode has levels. 

Its an interesting concept if you already know what to do, but very frightening at the beginning. At my start of MAG, I dont have any idea what I should do. I ended up being killed each time I make the wrong turn. This is a hell for newcomers. The characterization of each player can be very intimidating too. You are obligated to upgrade you're skill each time you gain a level. For a late adopter like me, this is a hell since my character will be underperformed by a higher level character. There were times where skill doesn't really help much since the gap between new character and upgraded character is too much. The game also occupied a credit system to buy your weapon. These make the gap become wider than any FPS I've ever played. 

Graphic: The graphic is very generic but its no surprise since it doesn't depend that much on it. But my biggest concern is the animation. Its very ugly. It looks unfinished even for a walking/running soldier. It looks funny but annoying at the same time. That said, Im still impressed they can pull that much effects even with a full 256 players game. 
Typical MAG map: low poly low res, who cares anyway?
There are also some things that bother me a lot like a buggy menu GUI, poorly designed map, imbalance over factions, unnoticeable unpassable terrain, etc. I think its safe to say its an unfinished game. It needs to be polished, A LOT! And for a year later game they havent patch it, I guess they focus too much on their SOCOM 4. In conclusion, MAG is a great idea for an ideal massive fps, but its unfinished, imbalance, and a hell for late adopter.

What Went Right: The whole concept and gameplay system, trying to be different from other FPS. 
What Went Wrong: unfinished, imbalance map, wide gap between higher level and lower level, buggy menu.

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