MAG (Massive Action Game) Review

MAG, or Massive Action Game for some of you, is a new online only first person shooter released by Zipper Interactive on the PS3. The unique thing about this game, the thing that separates it from most normal FPS titles, is the massive 256-player battles – lag free. The catch? Well, there is no catch. It really has minimal to zero lag. Does the game warrant the 60 buckaroonies you need to drop for an online only title? We shall see.

The first thing most people will notice upon entering the battlefields, or limited amount of (we’ll get to that later) are the graphics. What kind of graphics does MAG have you ask? How does it compare to other FPS titles such as Modern Warfare 2? To put it simply, it doesn’t. The graphics aren’t bad, but they sure aren’t what you’ve come accustom to. You cannot blame Zipper though. They sacrificed graphics to keep the game playable during these massive battles. A wise decision, as having frame rate issues with a game that is made for massive battles would be a massive shot in the foot.

The game tries making you feel as if you are a part of a massive battle, but it falls just short of accomplishing that. You’re required to choose one of three different factions to be a part of. Raven, Valor, or S.V.E.R. Each faction distinguishes themselves differently. Raven is a tight-knit high-tech group of soldiers. Top notch equipment, state of the art weaponry. Valor is your stereotypical G.I. Joe faction. SVER is a low-budget rebellious faction. These factions are constantly battling it out to gain an edge in the different game modes. To explain further, the more victories your faction has for a game mode, the closer you will be to gaining a faction wide bonus for that game mode. For instance, if you find your faction at the top of the Sabotage game mode, you will notice as a reward that you will be receiving a bonus 5% extra experience rewarded to you at the end of each Sabotage match. Once a faction fills up their respective gauge with enough victories, they’re provided with that bonus and the gauges are reset for all factions to compete again for the bonus rewards.

Raven - Valor - S.V.E.R.

As you enter your first match, you may find things a bit tricky. The game really does take some time to get better at, since it has an RPG aspect to it as well. You are a part of a level system, up to 60. You will be receiving skill points per level; spending these skill points will help you become an overall better soldier. There are numerous skills to use these points on, and these skills are all sorted in a chain format. The best rewards will be at the end of the chain, but you can’t spend points on those until you work your way up to it. This is why as your character progresses through the levels, as does the different weapons and skills you unlock. So it really can feel like a pain early on, but once things get going they become more enjoyable.

As for what Zipper tried accomplishing in MAG, which was to make you feel immersed in an actual gigantic battle, the idea falls short. The benefits of being a squad leader, platoon leader, and OIC are great, but most people do not play the way Zipper was hoping for. You shouldn’t be surprised if your squad is running off by themselves in hopes of gaining as much experience as possible to level up their character. This is the downfall of this game idea being played with random people in random rooms with this RPG aspect. On the plus side, it is possible to get all of your friends involved on the action in the same squad, or battle. Working as a team is the best way to go about conquering the opposing faction, as you will receive many real-time bonuses for just being near the squad leader.

MAGs replayability is definitely there. I can see myself wanting to try each different faction, as they all have access to different weaponry and skills. The RPG system certainly tries to convince you to keep playing, with the unlockable rewards, and the possibility of leading a squad and or platoon as you rise through the levels, even if they don’t always listen to you. Many people have said that you need a microphone to play this game. On the contrary, I don’t believe you do. MAG has a very nice system in which you can view the entire battlefield, and specifically highlight an objective you want your squad to focus on. Surely it isn’t as good, but this is the next best thing you can get away with. Again that is assuming your squad leader gives a damn about anyone but themselves.

Zipper gives a great effort, and in part is successful, in trying to submerge the player into feeling as if they are a part of a war. Ultimately though, it just isn’t quite the full-blown war experience once you get to playing MAG. With squad leaders only needing be level 15, you will many times find yourself trying to fight for someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. There is a voting system in place, but you’ll find your squad mates won’t even know how to do that. Teamwork is beneficial for success, but not required. The RPG skill tree throws in a nice bonus for replayability in MAG, and may just keep you around to play until you reach max level. If you have a group of friends, or a clan together, MAG will be a very good experience for you. Otherwise, stick to keeping this in the “Must Rent” list.

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

-Jordan Arruda

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  1. Couldn’t agree with you more. This game makes MW2 look laggy as hell. A big reason for that, is the dedicated servers Zipper shelled out for. While Infinity went the cheap route, and relies on the player’s connection to host. You will never ever have a game drop out in MAG, and it’s beautiful. And another thing, why aren’t we playing this together!? You should send a friend invite my way.

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