Home > Games, Reviews, Trailers > Get Your Gunn: MAG on the PS3

Get Your Gunn: MAG on the PS3

MAG_Logo_copyProduced by Zipper Interactive, MAG is already shaping up to be one of the most interesting titles to hit the Sony PlayStation 3 over the next few months. With the game currently in beta, we were lucky enough to play through some of the game and were also guided through the world and its inception by the game’s creative director, Ed Byrne.

Set in the not-too-distant future, MAG puts players in the role of a soldier working for one of three PMCs (or private military companies.) As worldwide resources dwindle and countries find themselves unable to support their armed forces, three PMCs come to the fore, Raven, Valor and SVER, who will sell their military services to the highest bidder. The competition between the three PMCs increases until it becomes a conflict known as the “Shadow War,” a reputation-based conflict as the three PMCs try to undermine each other and lay claim to various resources that will increase their own reputation, and therefore their own business.

raven_logo_FINALIt’s a rich, if somewhat complicated, backgroud to what is, effectively an excuse for a massive on-line shoot-out, and MAG’s original title (with the since-dropped subtitle Massive Action Game) calls that to mind. Byrne has stated that the pillars for the game’s development were “scale, command and persistence,” with scope and size being the obviously important features for the game, with the upper-levels of MAG involving 256 players (in various different teams and squads) playing on-line simultaneously (although for those with slower connections, there are are also smaller-scale and quicker battles.) Regardless of the number of players, the nature of the game lends itself to constant replayability, with theĀ parameters constantly changing as the balance of power shifts in the Shadow War.

With an emphasis on teams, there are subtle differences between the three different PMCs, each of which has access to exclusive weapons and with each appealing to a different type of gamer: the European-based Raven have access to more technologically advanced equipment, with a sci-fi edge, despite their relative inexperience; Alaskan-based Valor are themed on contemporary military outfits; and SVER, originating in Asia, embody guerilla tactics with older weaponry but more experience. Having chosen one of the three PMCs, players are treated to a training mission to accustom themselves to the feel for each PMC before immersing themselves in the online game. There are no offline elements to play, save for these training missions and the ability to personalise your own warrior.

valor_logo_FINALThere are four different, and individual, modes and styles of gameplay, ranging from all-out-assaults to sabotage missions: one of the PMCs “wins” the Shadow War when they achieve domination within one of these modes, at which point the balance of power resets itself to an equal footing. There are twelve maps overall, and to experience all of them, a player will have to play, and master, each mode of gameplay.

Because MAG is an on-line game, there is little AI and every soldier on screen, along with every event, is in some way triggered by one of the 256 players, from calling in air-strikes to tanks entering the area and carrying respawned soldiers. Addressing the “command” pillar, Byrne told us that as players progress through the game, levelling up in RPG styles and gaining access to points, new weapons and abilities (including improved speeds, health or sabotage/repair talents) they also gain the ability to move into a command position: when they attain level twelve, they can take charge of a squad of four players and issue commands, also becoming able to communicate with other command-level players. The squads of four give the game a personal feel despite the epic size, allowing the game to be as deep as the player wants, and players can also join a “clan” of their friends allowing them to play together.

sver_logo_FINALAs an incentive to obey orders, squads receive bonuses for obeying commands allowing all concerned to level up faster. To ensure that there’s no huge disparity amongst players, all games use a highly complicated matchmaking logarithm and, if at any stage, one faction proves significantly outgunned, Zipper intend to allow players to defect to another PMC to balance the tide.

With the game due for release in Q1, 2010, the conversation turned to some more specific questions about MAG: with the game currently in beta, feedback is still being generated, but response to the game has been overwhelmingly positive, with players already aligning themselves with various PMCs before even experiencing the full game. There should be no lag playing the game at slower connection speeds (although it will obviously run better at higher speeds) and there has already been talk of DLC, although the exact nature of which won’t be discussed or revealed until the game’s full release. Regardless, Byrne was open about the fact that the universe of MAG and the Shadow War itself may end up revisited in other titles, perhaps even moving away from the FPS genre.

We’ll have a more in-depth look at MAG closer to its full release and as changes are made to the beta, but it’s already shaping up to revolutionise online console gaming. The question is, when the revolution comes, whose side will you be on?

MAG is currently in online beta, and due for release on Sony PlayStation 3 in early 2010.

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