Graphics:
7.7
Gameplay:
8.5
Sound:
8.2
Control:
8.0
Replay Value:
8.8
Online Gameplay:
8.5
Overall Rating:
8.3
Publisher:
SCEA
Developer:
Zipper Interactive
Number Of Players:
1-256 Online
Genre:
FPS
Release Date:
January 26, 2010


I’m going to be honest. I don’t believe in hiding behind a veil of the all-knowing, omnipotent critic who is an expert on every aspect of the industry, every facet of new technology, and fully checked out on every genre on earth. Any reviewer who claims he is entirely confident going into every examination of every game is lying through his egotistical teeth. Now, I don’t particularly like online shooters and I never will; I just fail to see the fascination. At the same time, after playing the MAG beta and the final product for quite some time, I finally feel readily equipped to offer an accurate and reliable review. It’s the best I can do; I just wanted to put this out there beforehand. I want the reader to understand my own personal preferences and the fact that they may have had an impact – even if it was subconscious – on the scores. But in the end, I believe my statements concerning the recommendation for certain people are accurate. Hope this clarifies things.

The graphics are not the highlight of this game, as you probably already know if you participated in any of the beta phases. However, I believe the final product does look better than any of the beta tests; I freely admit I could be wrong because I can’t exactly do a compare and contrast right now, but it struck me the instant I started playing. I think there’s more detail and clarity in the large environments and even the weapons are sharper and crisper than I remember them. Even so, many of the war-ravaged landscapes, despite being very nicely designed and loaded with plenty of wonderful opportunities for strategic minds, still appear a little muddy. Character depiction in battles isn’t exactly stellar but I have to remind myself that it’s likely on par with most other online shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The effects, ranging from grenade blasts to huge airstrike explosions, are effective but I would’ve liked to see more in the way of environmental interaction. In the end, though, it’s all about the gameplay, as we’ll soon see.

The sound is one of the highlights of the game, as every battle is chock full of crystal clear weapon fire and the albeit small amount of voice acting is good. I’m perhaps most surprised at a decent soundtrack that tends to permeate many battles; this is an aspect of all-online games that hasn’t been prominent enough, in my opinion. I know that with so many people trying to communicate, a rocking music score could get in the way, but Zipper has struck a nice, even chord with the soundtrack in MAG . It’s not always in your face and it correctly adds some appreciated flavor to the experience. I keep thinking certain weapons don’t sound exactly right, though, and the balancing is off sometimes. For instance, some effects can inappropriately override others; this balancing issue can rear its ugly head quite often during really intense firefights but again, I believe this trait is common to the genre. A whole lot of sh** is happening; I get that. I just like the nod to some good music and the overall atmosphere that benefits from professionally implemented sound.

I’m sitting here with the Reviewer’s Guide in front of me. I don’t normally receive this kind of fully illustrated and intricately detailed assistance but after spending my time with the game, I know why it’s here. We’ve got the armories for each Faction, abilities and duties for leadership members – ranging from Squad Leaders to Platoon Leaders to the OIC (Officer in Charge) – relevant skills, tactical options (Mortar Barrage, Strafing Runs, Gas Bombardments, Sensor Fused Artillery), and of course, the deep histories of each Faction. It’s downright mind-boggling. If you only played the beta and think MAG isn’t much different than other online shooters you’ve played, think again, my friend. It goes well beyond a few parachute drops and jumping into an APC. It goes beyond having a steady aim and teaming up with a group to flank the opposition. That’s all child’s play compared to the strategy involved in this game, and I will once again make an admission: I have not tested every last tactic, loadout option, skill, and ability. Hell, I don’t think I could do that if I played for the next six months.

The point is, if you try to play this game like a fast-paced, mindless, run-around-and-shoot-everything-you-see FPS, you’re going to be entirely ineffective. You also won’t have much fun, which may cause a great many new owners to become frustrated and upset with the game. I am aware this could happen. It’s all about teamwork, almost regardless of the Mode or the battlefield situation. What is most appealing, though, is the fact that you can indeed remain independent if you wish; you don’t have to become a leader of any kind. And while you should probably follow orders you are given if you have the best interests of the Faction in mind, nothing is stopping you from going wherever you want and doing whatever you want. With the plethora of options available to you, it can almost seem overwhelming at first so you’ll want to get your bearings. All this being said, let’s move on to the foundation of the gameplay.

This is where we start experiencing a few problems. First of all, I signed on with Raven (as I had done in the beta) and after testing a variety of loadout options and many of the available weapons, I started to question the effectiveness and power of certain firearms. The sound has a bit of a balance issue and balancing is once again an issue here, I believe. It just seems that some weapons are almost entirely useless in battle while I’d always feel more comfortable with one particular set of firearms. Now, this could be an entirely subjective thing but I’m almost positive that some bad-ass rifles should be more deadly than they are. On the flip side, I think too many of them do about the same amount of damage; sometimes I’d say to myself, “what’s even the point of changing right now? It feels pretty much the same with either.” Lastly, there is a definite collision detection problem from where I’m sitting: I’ve had foes directly in my line of sight with a sniper rifle and nothing has happened. It got annoying after a while.

This leads me to the problem of not being entirely sure when I’m even hitting someone. Maybe I could use a few blood spatters or jerks of the body or something to help me out. I suppose I can also complain that I sometimes had difficulty distinguishing enemies from allies; yes, I know they’re denoted in blue and red but those colors seemed dull to me, that’s all. Again, I’m aware that some will read this and go, “I never had any of those problems; you don’t know what you’re talking about.” I accept that but I can only tell you what negatively effected my hours with the game. I can also say I don’t like the awkward way you climb ladders in the game but that’s a minor thing and it doesn’t really impact the gameplay. Now that we have all this out of the way, let me try to explain what’s good about MAG …I say “try” because a lot of the positives are somewhat intangible, and you don’t quite understand them until you’ve played for a while. This is why critics need to take their time with this one.

Look, I’m all about atmosphere and the game’s ability to bring the player into the experience, regardless of genre or style. If you give MAG the chance, it will do exactly this. Yes, you have to build yourself up at first, but this is mostly so only seasoned veterans will be involved in the massive battles that take place in Domination and new Directives, and you’ll unlock skills as you go. In this way, there’s a semblance of an offline single-player campaign in that you have to prove yourself before the full glory of the game becomes unlocked and available to your greedy fingertips. But once you glimpse the depth; once you taste the power you feasibly have if you work hard, you may become an addict for life. There is quite simply no other game that offers what MAG offers: the chance to command up to 128 players (good luck working your way up to that point) and in general, become a true-blue military commander who must consider every possible aspect of combat before assigning orders.

It’s here where this “MMOFPS” shines. I mean, you can personalize your own career from the start, specializing in any number of responsibilities (like Commando and Sniper), and the performance rewards are always excellent incentives. Being able to act as a Medic isn’t something new but due to the realistic nature of the game, where two or three bullets can put you in the dirt, it’s all the more important to have helpful teammates. It also forces you to respect dangerous situations and I believe this is something that might be unique to MAG ; never before have I been so reluctant to push forward into enemy territory without my buddies around me. And even then, there’s a group-wide feeling of tension…it’s weird; you can almost sense it through the screen. Like I said, it’s somewhat hard to explain. Once you’re in, getting used to the controls should take no time at all if you’re even remotely familiar with any FPS, although I’ve always hated using the L3 button to sprint. It’s just so unbelievably inconvenient in my eyes.

The controls are plenty solid enough and won’t cause anyone any problems, but the collision detection, balance issues, the amount of time required to really indulge, and the fact that it isn’t the best-looking game on the PS3 all works against MAG . What it has going for it is the overall package; in this case, it’s most certainly greater than the sum of its parts. The depth is undeniable, the immersion factor is super high (coming from someone that isn’t into this genre, that means something), and the combination of strategy and standard performance skills is enough to make fans play for a very, very long time. There’s no chance you’ll see everything this game has to offer in a few hours…in fact, I kinda believe that some of the lower reviews I’ve seen have either been based on the beta or the fact that the reviewer didn’t play long enough. You really need to set aside a good chunk of time and the rewards are unlike any online team-based game you’ve played before.

The shortcomings are clear, which is why I won’t say this is among the elite ranks of PlayStation 3 exclusives right now. However, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear: MAG ’s potential is off the charts. As we all know, games like this continue to grow and expand over time; the developers continually attempt to make it a better experience with updates and patches. This makes it very much unlike other titles and we need to recognize this. At the start, Warhawk was good but it wasn’t great; I think it became great. You might not even believe what they added to that game in the past few years; I still remember the beta, which was a mere shadow of the current full experience. Now, taking this into consideration and looking at MAG …oh…my…God. I can’t imagine what Zipper could do; the sky really might be the limit. 256 players isn’t the selling point; the experience is, and while the overall score may not seem too impressive, I couldn’t even begin to assign a score to this game’s potential .

In my opinion, this might be something all reviewers should come back to analyze again in one year’s time. The bottom line is that if you’re into the idea of a MMOFPS that requires patience and strategy, there’s no better option, despite the drawbacks (which may only be temporary).

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Victor321
Victor321
11 years ago

Really Good review, was a great read!!

JMO_INDY
JMO_INDY
11 years ago

Theres no way you read this in under a minute that its been posted dude, WTF?

Victor321
Victor321
11 years ago

I went to the PS3 reviews section of the site to find a review of BF:BC (Battlefield: Bad Company), if the site had it, until I saw MAG which was just posted up lol

So, I decided to read it, and that was all =D

to_far_apart
to_far_apart
11 years ago

Really good review Ben! Great detail and info!

I myself played the online Beta to see how it was, I'm not really fond of online shooters as well, but it caught my interest because the ambitious scale of the game. Like Ben and world said, if you're expecting a run and gun and kill everything in site type of shooter, then you're wrong, and this may not be the type of game experience for you.

I honestly like the fact that they tried to deliver a game, in which teamwork is necessary, and where strategy is key. In my opinion, i think this makes it a more fun experience. You know, for being such an ambitious project, i do commend the efforts, it really has a ton of potential with some "cleaning up."

My personal score for the Beta is an 8. I haven't tried the full retail copy, so it would be hard to have a personal rating. But from the info i've retained from Ben's review, I'd most likely give it an 8.3.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

I'd have to agree with this based on the beta, I think if you go into it expecting a bigger badder MW2 online then you are going to be disappointed. If you run around mindlessly looking for targets you will be disappointed. While the graphics are almost identical it is an entirely different beast. I may still get it some day when it's cheaper and there are lots of players. I'd give the beta 7.8 so an 8.3 on the final product makes sense.

Qubex
Qubex
11 years ago

For the Beta I would probably give it a 7.9. The maps are big, and it can take a while to engage with targets after you re-spawn. You also tend to die quite quickly; I guess that is thanks to some very talented snipers that did their jobs well for their clans… it didn't help the fluidity of the game though. I found it difficult to stay alive for me than 5 minutes on average…

I am wondering how well the game is really balanced… having played the demo, I am not all that convinced!

Q!

"i am home"


Last edited by Qubex on 1/29/2010 5:28:10 AM

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
11 years ago

You mentioned a lot of the things I've loved about PC online shooters. The teamwork and depth rather than run and gun approach. This is why I'm keeping an open mind when it comes to MAG and I'm thinking about picking it up a few months down the road. The beta really showcased how rewarding the teamwork system can be.

I think MAG really can only be done on the PS3 and I'm not talking hardware. The 360 community IMO would play this game and quit long before seeing the big picture. Games like this live and die by the community and I have full faith in the PSN.

Thanks for the review Ben and I'm glad to see came into it with an open mind and didn't leave disappointed.

to_far_apart
to_far_apart
11 years ago

Totally agree with you there. I'm not the biggest online shooter fan, but when a game is really executed well (with teamwork and strategy in mind), i really did get a great experience with the beta. It showed me how an online shooter could get engaging.

I also agree with you about Ben's review, really glad to see an open minded review, one of the many reasons i love the site!

eLLeJuss
eLLeJuss
11 years ago

I think i might get this, 200+ player online battle is crazyyy… I never liked shooters. I get bored with em in like a week… Maybe ill rent it first or something to check it out.

And Ben typo! "the instant I starting playing"

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Yes, yes, I know. It's fixed now.

It's a long review, you know? 😉


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/28/2010 10:45:18 PM

to_far_apart
to_far_apart
11 years ago

I don't know what you guys are looking at, but i don't see any typo 😉

to_far_apart
to_far_apart
11 years ago

Ben and typos? Psh, never! 😉

www
www
11 years ago

Do people get prosecuted for typos?

SILVERAMMO
SILVERAMMO
11 years ago

this is the trusted review for getting this ame ima get it now was gonna get it anyway since its zipper making it

THE-GAMER
THE-GAMER
11 years ago

yo add me PSN : THE-MO-16 , M.A>G is best with teamates beleive , anybody who has the game can add me too

THE-GAMER
THE-GAMER
11 years ago

yo add me PSN : THE-MO-16 , M.A>G is best with teamates beleive , anybody who has the game can add me too

Hezzron
Hezzron
11 years ago

Looks like MAG took the hits where it was deserved, and got kudos for the things it did right in this review. Well done.

I enjoy these games, but there's only so many of them you can dedicate time to at once. I'll stick with what I already have, but I'll keep this in mind when it gets cheaper.

michiganfan1983
michiganfan1983
11 years ago

Great review Ben, thanks for your input. I have picked up this game but I just haven't had the time to play it yet, common Saturday you can't get here fast enough.

Ya know that is the only thing that sucks about Tuesday being release day, if you have a busy week you don't have time to play new games, aagghh.

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

Bad collision detection is a serious flaw for any FPS. It drove me nuts in Borderlands. I'm sure they'll patch it up, but it does prove that buying a game like this on day one is a mistake. They're NEVER perfect out the door and by the time it's all patched up to work the way it should, the price has dropped at least 10-20usd.

Great review though. It's increased my interest in MAG tenfold.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
11 years ago

Tell me about it. BF2 back in 2005 during it's first month was pure insanity. Planes getting stuck in mountain, falling through the maps, and lots of cheating.

SaintX
SaintX
11 years ago

Wow, I trust that you would provide a good well rounded review and you certainly delivered it Ben. You've clearly wrote the best review of the game so far, other reviews weren't as in depth as yours. Besides that, you have mentioned the kind of stuff that I have been trying to tell people about. Its not all graphics, but the gameplay and experience of MAG that really drives us to play it. Coudln't have put it in better words than you did Ben. Thank you.

As fellow Ravens whos interested, feel free to add me: SaintX6


Last edited by SaintX on 1/28/2010 11:13:19 PM

Oyashiro
Oyashiro
11 years ago

Great review!

I'll be passing on this though. I have to save up for the RPG-a-thon in March.

By the way to anyone that doesn't know. Shadow of Destiny for the PSP was released this week.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

The only redeeming quality for Mag is you get to play it online for free. That is the only thing that justifies 65 bucks for it.

Oh yeah. Ben says the 256 players isnt the selling point. Tell that to Sony and the makers of the game. It is all they have been tauting. They never tell you that you NEVER get to actually see 256 players at one time because they are on OTHER parts of the field.

It is a good game. Just not enough content, especially without a good SINGLE PLAYER SPOT, WHICH BY THE WAY alot of people dumped on MW2 for lacking with only a 5 hour Single player campaign.

Unless you are bored of MW2, which is understandable, stick with it and get BF BC 2 in March. BF BC2 blows Mag away in graphics, gameplay, strategy, AND fun. And for 65 bucks you get one hell of a single player mode.

End of Line.

archs13
archs13
11 years ago

i did play bc2 a lot more when i had both betas in my ps3 so i agree.. i just don't know if i had missed out on those abilities that's unlocked if i get enough experience on MAG

i hope that zipper will spend some time on a new socom instead, and i'm talking about the old-school socom not socom 3, confrontation, or combined assault.. just the old school socom 1 or 2 back

how could they screw the series up..

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Pretty sure I banned you for your egotistical, I know all, typically BS statements. Why do we all get the feeling you're lecturing people on a game you've never touched?


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/29/2010 12:55:25 AM

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
11 years ago

He raped me….he RAPED me!

Godslim
Godslim
11 years ago

tbh hes kinda right in saying the 256 players is the selling point

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

I played the beta and nothing in that beta really pushed me towards wanting to buy this game. I'm glad I got a chance to play it. I might give this a chance way down the road. Not now. Too much quality elsewhere in the gaming industry.

Arvis
Arvis
11 years ago

Uh… if you're seeing all 256 other players at one time… it probably won't last for very long…

I kinda thought the point of such a high number of players was to create a more dynamic battlefield that rewarded units that work as a team. The side with the best teamwork will eventually take over the whole larger map and win the battle. I didn't think it was supposed to be "OMG LOOK AT ALL THEEZ OTHR GUYZ WIF GUNZEZ!!"

Maybe I'm just stupid, though.

-Arvis

CH1N00K
CH1N00K
11 years ago

Archs, Zipper didn't do Socom: Confrontation, that's how it got screwed up. Slant 6 did it this time.

As for all the Socom hate that goes around, I understand that there are a lot of fans of the series that are mad over the fact of what Slant 6 did, but have any of them played it lately?

Even after all the problems of getting the game to where it is now, I still maintain that SOCOM is one of the most solid shooters on the network today. If not for what Ben commented mostly on with MAG. The game works best when you work as a team. If you "Run N' Gun", like every other online shooter in the world, you die and you die quick.

If you take your time communicate and work together, then the game is way more enjoyable.

Oh and supposedly Zipper is working on a new SOCOM with a campaign mode this time. No confirmation yet, but it is the rumour amongst the SOCOM players.


Last edited by CH1N00K on 1/29/2010 9:34:33 AM

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
11 years ago

256 players online may not be the selling point, but come on, no other console game comes close.

Sony is doing the right thing in the marketing with this game. The high player count online is what seperates it from an almost last generation 6 vs 6 that is featured in MW2. Don't get me wrong, I love MW2 and have over a hundred hours online, but the scale of the game is so small after playing MAG.

MAG's problem is that the game is going to require time to build your online persona to a level that the average person is happy with. People are expecting MW2's microwave accessibility, and that's a shame. No one has patience anymore.

___________
___________
11 years ago

cant help but think whats been left begging.
this game reminds me of darksiders, a game that had the chance to be so innovative and so great it could literally reinvent the wheel.
whether that was squandered because of lack of development time or because of restrictions ill never know.
i really wished zipper had a mod forcing people to work as a team.
just say to players work as a team or go back to MW2.
to make a game that has such heavy emphasis on teamwork than have nothing enforcing it is pure madness!
its like creating a racing game, forcing players to go over a certain speed limit but no car can reach that speed.
if your going to create something reliant on another thing you need to make sure the first thing is enforced.
otherwise neither will happen, and sadly neither are happening in mag.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
11 years ago

Quoting Ben –

"Any reviewer who claims he is entirely confident going into every examination of every game is lying through his egotistical teeth."

This is why I come here, and will remain a loyal reader. An excellent comment followed by a superb review sir.

On to MAG, we will have 2 copies of this game, and after the Beta, it will now be the online shooter of choice in this house. Why? The depth and general feeling of something bigger that game made us feel when we played the Beta.

As your review suggests, I would personally love this site to revisit MAG in 6 months or so, with reader feedback as an opinion.

MW2 will be officially retired once MAG is running in our PS3's. Time to hang up my Scar-H.

JPBooch
JPBooch
11 years ago

Mine is already retired. No more MW2 for me.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
11 years ago

Indeed.

The SCAR was good to me with some 10,000 plus kills (estimate) out of around 19,000, but after watching my son play MAG this morning, I realised how small MW2 is.

MAG is a revolutionary experience with the size of battles it has. It even makes Resistance look on the smaller sides of things.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Thanks, max. 🙂

Beamboom
Beamboom
11 years ago

Ben, this is quite possibly your best review so far.

Oh, and 8.4 is *not* a bad score. Judging from what you write I'd say you were generous!

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

WHOA Ben I played the Beta from the beginning. Your feelings bout me mean nothing as one, you are the one who thinks you are the end all be all reviewer and two, you, apparently, are threatened by me in some way.

Like you I have played games for a long long time. But unlike you who has come on here before and stated how QUALIFIED you are to be a GAMING JOURNALIST because you are on old school gamer, I have not.

So stop attacking me because I have a different view than you of games, and tell your puppy Limited to do the same.

End of Line.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
11 years ago

Dude, you raped me.

Sir Shak
Sir Shak
11 years ago

Twice ?

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
11 years ago

Eww, no that's gross; only once.

phantomMenace
phantomMenace
11 years ago

Well not to start a war here but I have to say opinion is one thing but having read your other posts you really seem to hate this game… enough so that you feel the need to come and bash it every time there is a post about it. Personally I hate BF:BC2 I don't like the controls and I really didn't like the multiplayer it just wasn't as fun in my opinion. So maybe people like other things, I for one have already put about 15 hours into MAG and don't regret a single minute. The review was more than fair(very good actually and I agree with it for the most part) so don't sit here and rip it. And as limited said, it was never meant to have a single player option, it was designed specifically for multi, they never once mentioned any possibility so everyone knew what they were getting.


Last edited by phantomMenace on 1/29/2010 4:14:49 AM

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
11 years ago

You'll learn to ignore Drithe's posts quite quickly. He's just an elitist troll that pops up now and then to insult and state his opinions as fact. He intentionally tries to instigate arguments with one of the head writers of this website simply for the sake of argument and nothing more.

He contributes ZERO credible information on any topic. I suggest you do what I do and see that he's posted and simply scroll without actually wasting time on his words.

spiderboi
spiderboi
11 years ago

Bashing aside, i really enjoyed BF:BC1 and BF:1943 (is the date right?). I also got to try MAG at the beta stage but wasn't entirely blown away (probably due to the fact that at the time i was much engrossed in run-n-gunning in MW2). But come to think of it, i really appreciated the enormousness or the atmosphere, similar to BF:1943. Like you were playing to save the world. MAG has huge potential. The only reason why I still haven't bought this is coz I'm saving up for FF13, GoW3 and Heavy Rain (and might also get BF:BC2, and of course, MOH!)

Oooh my poor wallet…

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Umm… Limited, you said you just keep scrolling past all of Drithe's comments. However, on a couple of his posts in this thread, you have made a comment. Make sense, this does not.


Last edited by n/a on 1/29/2010 8:57:25 AM

darxed
darxed
11 years ago

Pretty sure Ben is not only an experienced old school gamer, but has had a very long and successful career as a journalist too, something that neither you nor me nor anyone on the comments has. Besides, what's wrong with the review? it clearly states the game has shortcomings while having a lot of potential too, which I think is exactly what MAG is as game… Would you rather have a review like any of the other sites, like "It's not like COD:MW2 so it sucks, 6.5!" or "It's so good it will change your life forever! 11A+!"… Reviews like this are the reason I keep coming back here, even if I don't really have the time to post comments as much as I'd like. I say great review Ben! can't wait for the review of FFXIII, I think only on this site I can get an honest review of the game, not some fanboy nonsense about "too much linearity" in a Final Fantasy game…

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Boring. People who post to make themselves look superior are BORING. And certainly not old enough to vote.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/29/2010 10:23:10 AM

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
11 years ago

@AudiaK

Evidently in your book someone is not allowed to break from their usual methods a couple times for the hell of it?

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

haha I have no book. Just pointing out the facts. You should have said, "I usually scroll past, but I occasionally engage him when I'm in the mood." That would have been much clearer…

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
11 years ago

Okay how about this, I will NEVER respond to another one of your comments. I PROMISE.

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