MAG is certa inly one of the more ambitious projects the gaming world has seen in recent times: 256 players, on the same map, going head to head in a faction-based shooter! It’s intriguing to say the least, but with definite potential for disaster.
Set in the year 2025, militaries around the world are depleted due to the exuberant costs. Enter Private Military Companies (PMCs) – mercenaries for hire. But there’s huge competition between the PMCs for fairly limited work, and they end up battling each other in order to secure the lucrative contracts.
When I first heard ‘256 players’, my initial concern was lag. As all New Zealand gamers know, lag is something that rears its ugly head far too often. MAG has dedicated Australasian servers, but they weren’t enough to make my 256-player games playable for extended periods. It’s disappointing, but Sony has already begun to address technical issues through patches, so it’s not all doom and gloom on this front.
When MAG is running well, it’s a solid experience, albeit an unspectacular one. Too much of the play is confusing and unclear, with most of the game modes lacking a clear and coherent structure. Incompetent chains of command only add to this problem. A loose hierarchy of commanders directs play, setting objectives for smaller groups within the factions. An incompetent commander devoid of any strategic insight makes for long, uninteresting periods of anarchy, something which happened far too often. With any player level 15 or higher in with a shot at commander, it’s really a lucky dip as to the quality of the match you’ll find yourself in.
Between lag, sub-par gameplay and no singleplayer component, MAG is disappointing to say the least. Despite the different styles of gameplay, comparisons to the heavyweights of online shooters are inevitable and this is where MAG just doesn’t stack up.