M.A.G. Preview (PS3)

MAG is one of, if not the largest scale FPS ever conceived. Featuring the capability to host games of up to 256 different players, there has never been anything quite like MAG, and to be perfectly honest, it seems a little daunting, both as a gamer and as a games journalist.

The repercussions of such a wide-scale FPS are unnoticeable until you ponder the human condition, or at least the human condition once anonymity is given, such as with online games. Ever hear cursing or racial slurs from 12 year olds? Imagine that in a game with over a hundred players.

While we'll have to wait and see what happens once MAG is actually released, because of its scope, MAG has some interesting differences from most FPS's. First, there are squads and platoons, complete with leaders for each. Second, there are multiple missions on each level that are not necessary to secure, but the more accomplished will of course lead to a higher chance of victory. Finally, there is the time frame for these games.

Starting off with squads and platoons, players are separated into two teams. Once in teams of 128 players or less, they are distributed to eight squads of eight, each including a squad leader. This leader is selected based on the player's rank and points earned (points are earned by getting kills, completing missions and pulling off excellent moves, like headshots). Of course, that doesn't mean that the highest ranked player will always be a squad leader, because everyone should have the chance, so the number of times each person is a squad leader is also taken into account.

Each squad leader is then given the opportunity to be one of four platoon leaders. This is done by a more formal voting system, where squad leaders who want to be platoon leaders can run, and then one is selected by the same means as before. To understand what the platoon leader does, we must know what the squad leader does.

The squad leader is in charge of commanding his squad. In theory, it means the orders that person gives are the ones his squad should follow. In reality, it means that the squad leader is the narrative voice on your comm channel, so if he/she selects an objective to achieve, an announcement will go to all members of the squad informing them to do so. This isn't a voice communication that goes to your headset, but an announcer saying it in-game. Platoon leaders do the same thing, but for a larger array. Once again, that's mostly just what happens. Each soldier is able to follow their own decisions just as easily, which we expected to happen anyway.

Squad leaders, however, also have special abilities. They are equally easy to kill by enemies, but they do have four attributes to help their squads: Rapid Fire, Stay With Me!, Move with a Purpose, and Shallow Breath. Rapid Fire increases the reload speed of players nearby, going after the same objective; Stay With Me! makes squad members last longer when shot and bleeding out; Move with a Purpose speeds up player's movement on the field; finally, Shallow Breath "increases an Operative's resistance to gas weapons."

Platoon leaders also have specialty abilities. "Cut the Blue Wire: Increases the speed at which an Operative can arm or disarm explosives. Focused Hearing: Allows Operatives to detect enemies firing from great distances. Improvisation: Slowly repairs any bunker or vehicle nearby Operatives are occupying. Battle Hardened: Increases an Operative's resistance to explosive damage."

Besides what platoon and squad leaders can do, there is also the OIC, or Officer In Charge. This player's job, something we didn't speak with a developer about but did get a small pamphlet on, is in charge of planning the battle and has access to information coming in from all players. They also have their own abilities, such as letting players slip by motion trackers undetected, incraesing player's defenses and slowly healing teammates over time. 

It wouldn't be a military game without calling in the heavy firepower or tech, so all players have access to calling in UAV drones, mortar attacks, cluster bombs, bunker destroyers, sensor sweeps, gass bombardments, signal jamming, communication jamming, tactical strikes, blokades, rapid redeployment, and more.

There are multiple missions per level. Each side begins in their corner of the map and must progress forward, pushing their own front line forward. This could mean anything from blowing up bridges to destroying stationary turrets to taking down defensive barricades. These missions can be assigned to individual players as squad leaders, and to squads by platoon leaders, and any number of players can accomplish that same goal working together.

Finally, the time frame for each game isn't in tens of minutes, but hours. MAG games are not meant to be short, decisive battles; rather, they should be long, drawn out struggles for supremacy. While it may sound like bliss to FPS gamers who love a challenge, the game we played lasted for 2 hours. Because we were short on time, we didn't even get close to finishing the game, and we weren't the first to start it either. For those without the endurance to play games for long periods of time, MAG may be impossible to get into.

MAG is a PlayStation 3 exclusive and is expected to release later this year.


By BlitzKrieg (SI Veteran Member) on Jun 05, 2009
looks pretty cool, but ill wait till it is out, so i can check the score
By Kres (SI Elite) on Jun 06, 2009
Bloody hell. Sounds wonderful. Like a dream come true almost. Loads of players. 256! But not a PS3 exclusive damn! :(
By sxcchr (SI Newbie) on Sep 26, 2009
Dam I Want A Code For This :(:( all my mates have one nd i dont it sucks
By sxcchr (SI Newbie) on Sep 26, 2009
i love this game i badly want a code tho pls sony can you send me a code pls im beggin you