Whilst I own each of the major consoles I have always been a PC gamer. I have put up with upgrading and incompatibilities because often PC games will offer slightly more than console games. One area I have always felt this is with First Person Shooters. For years PC gamers have had huge battles, even on dial up connections, but it has always seemed that consoles canít keep up with this. MAG is here to change that. Rather than go for a slight increase over the opposition, MAG is about blowing their competitors out of the water, from a number point of view that is. MAG offers 128 v 128 gameplay, yes thatís not a typo, a full 256 players in one game.
Bigger games donít always equate to more fun. One frustrating part of being part of a huge team is that your efforts and victories wonít always equate to victory on the field. In other FPS games three or four members of a team working at their best can dominate an opposing team. In huge games that doesnít necessarily work. On several occasions on the sabotage map type I have been part of a team that has successfully taken over a satellite uplink and held it for a huge period of time. This was done through teamwork. Unfortunately the team responsible for taking the other uplink didnít take it even once, meaning we eventually lost the battle. This is a fairly obvious point to make, in huge games one man (or a small group) cannot affect the whole field, only a small area. Itís frustrating, but Iíd rather have this than small games.
Other than the basic team death match that helps you adjust to the control setup and playstyle, there are three game types; Sabotage, Acquisition and Domination. Each map type has an attacker and a defender. Sabotage
requires that the attacking team takes over two satellite uplinks, if they can take hold both at once then they become locked and a third objective becomes available, capture that and the attacker wins. Acquisition
is a more complicated affair. Attackers first need to breack through defences and disable anti air before they can then steal enemy vehicles.Domination
is the much talked about 128 v 128 mode. The attackers must fill a damage bar, which is done by holding capture points. Before you can get to capture points you must first fight through various layers of defences and also capture earlier objectives.
In all three game modes defenders win the battle by sitting out the clock. Another area where MAG stands out from other games in the genre is the length of games. Domination has a 30 minute timer, meaning that if you are a defender youíve got to hold out for the full duration to take the win. The only way to get a quick game in one of the large game modes is to attack and win quickly, which is far from easy.
Obviously games of this size require a leadership structure. At level 15 a player can apply for a leadership role. A good leader can turn the tide of battle with the various abilities given to them. Firstly, they can set an area for bonus experience points. Every point earned within the area will give double points to the person earning them. This is a good way of encouraging players to hit certain objectives. Leaders also have more obvious abilities such as being able to call in Mortar strikes or guided missile. Each squad leader can then also speak to officers further up the chain of command who are co-ordinating the larger battle.
The game types and leadership abilities arenít really explained in any detail in the game. At the beginning of the game there is a tutorial that teaches you the basics of the control systems. This doesnít go far enough to explaining how the different game modes work, how squads are mad up and objective bonuses. Whilst an average gamer will pick up most of the important stuff within a few games, its possible to misunderstand game elements and the first few games can be very intimidating.
As mentioned above in the leadership section, leaders have the ability to speak to others in the command chain. Here lies a failing of MAG (though not through the fault of the devs). A vast number of PS3 owners donít own a microphone and therefore communication at times is abysmal. Many of the squads I have been I have had only one or two people who speak. Quite frequently groups Iíve been in have had leaders without headsets. This makes victory far more difficult.