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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed By: Zipper Interactive
Genre: Online Shooter
Players: 64 to 256 (Online Only)
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: January 26, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty






February 4, 2010 - The online multiplayer experience has become a critical part to whether you game can be a global success or simply a title that movies a solid amount of units. Games like Modern Warfare 2, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Left 4 Dead 2 and even Resistance 2 are just a few examples of titles that provide an immersive online experience, which has brought success to Activision, Valve, Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games. The last title to take the online gaming experience to the next level is MAG (Massive Action Gaming), which is Zipper Interactiveís latest release in a long line of First-Person Shooters for the PlayStation Brand. While being know for their amazing work with the SOCOM franchise, Zipper utilizes their talents and the power of the PS3 to create an immersive online experience comprised of up to 256 players. While many were skeptical about whether Zipper Interactive could pull off such a feet, itís safe to say that they have created one of the best online team-based shooters of this generation.

Before continuing on with my review, I want to point out that those who donít have their PS3 console connected to the internet via a broadband connection, there is no point in buying this game. MAGís gaming experience takes place online, which caters to the masses that enjoy a multiplayer experience over a single-player campaign. Another not is that for those who rush out to buy this game, make sure you have a solid headset as communication is vital to winning battles and keeping from having to respawn all the time. The game can indeed be played without a headset, however you wonít be able to let a fellow comrade know you need healing or support, which can lead you to dying quite a bit.

MAG has three distinct factions to choose from --Valor, Raven and S.V.E.R.óto choose from; each having their own strengths and weaknesses. Valor works closely with the United Coalition on providing support and aid to communities in need around the world. Raven is a massive corporation funded by several defense industry giants. The sole purpose of Raven is to look out for the bottom lines of its backers, while also focusing on their own growth and expansion. With S.V.E.R., they are the exact opposite to that of Valor. Comprised of mercenaries, criminals and felons; they like to exercise their might and spread fear to all who oppose them.



Once you have decided on your faction and the look of your character, you are almost ready to hop right into the action. If you donít have any FPS experience, MAG provides a Training Course, which gets you familiar with the controls and many different aspects of the battles that you will partake in. There is also the Suppression Mode, which is like an extension to the Training Course. In this mode, you will partake a 64-player team battle where you compete against fellow faction members in order to further your comfort with the controls and the idea of war. As of the release of the game, each faction only has one map to fight on; however this mode wasnít meant for you to play ďday in and day outĒ.

Before continuing on with describing the different modes, I want to discuss one of the key elements of MAG, which is player progression. Every time you gain a level, you acquire 1 skill point, which can be utilized to upgrade and acquire new weaponry; enhance healing and resurrection abilities, improving on stealth capabilities, etc. Whether you want to be a sniper or a direct action soldier, acquiring the ability to heal yourself and your fellow comrades is vital to your faction winning the battle, and ultimately the war. You character also gets 5 gear load-outs, which you can customize with the new weaponry and gear, so you are able to handle practically any situation presented before you. Just like any other FPS game, there are secondary weapons, which can include a hand gun or machine gun, grenades, smoke bombs, rocket launchers, etc. So when it comes to customizing your load-outs, there are dozens of possible outcomes.

After partaking in Suppression Mode and leveling up your character a couple of levels, you will gain access to the Sabotage Mode. Within this mode, the 64-players are split into two and now you have one faction fighting another faction; 32 players vs. 32 players. Depending on the battle parameters, one team will be defending their home base, while the other faction will be attacking and trying to take over command centers. Within these battles, there are three command centers to protect; two are available right out the gate. If those two should fall, a third one will appear on the map, which now needs to be protected otherwise the battle is over, and the attackers win. In these battles, the 32 players are broken down into four quads of 8 commandos. Each squad has a leader and determines which command center they will defend/attack. If wearing a headset, you are able to communicate with your squad mates to come up with strategies of attack/defense.



Spending some time leveling up in Suppression Mode, while net you access to the Acquisition Mode. In Acquisition, the maps are larger and now each faction features 64 players; for a total of 128 players. Similar to Suppression Mode, the 64 players are broken down into two platoons, each consisting of squads. This time, there is a platoon leader that leads his/her comrades into battle. Instead of trying to attack/defend command center, in Acquisition you are tasked with either protecting two vehicles or stealing said vehicles and bringing the back to your base. Within this mode, teamwork is vital of success and staving off the attackers, so individuality isnít a good quality to have playing this mode.

The final two modes that round out the list are Domination and Directive. Within Domination, you have your 256 player battle (128 vs. 128). Breaking down the player system, there is four platoons of 32 players; each with 4 squads. Instead of being a battle of pure chaos, Zipper Interactiveís squad-base system allows different squads perform different task; whether they are protecting key access points and bombing key targets. The maps within Domination are roughly 4x the size as in Suppression or 2x the size of the maps within Acquisition. What I like about Domination is the fact that if one faction is preventing the enemy for advancing and another squad needs help; you can send soldiers over to that squad to lend a helping hand. Thereís a since of togetherness, though you only see your squad mates unless the attackers are able to push you back towards the center of the map and your stronghold. As far as the Directive Mode is concern, you are put into a queue for one of the other modes that needs the most players. So through this mode, you could end up playing Sabotage, Acquisition or even Domination.

From a visual standpoint, MAG is really good. While it wonít compete with the likes of Killzone 2, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves or Metal Gear Solid 4; you can see that Zipper Interactive spent a lot of time ensuring the visual experience was rich with detail and could handle the massive amounts of players within the game and on screen at one time. Considering itís the only console FPS title to achieve such a feet as 256 players online at once, MAG has set the benchmark for how a game plays and looks like within the spectrum of online gaming. Character models are all nicely detailed, while in-game weaponry looks realistic and operates like so. The only hang-up you could have in terms of the visuals would be the fact that it doesnít look better than Uncharted 2: Among Thieves; seeing how Sony developed games are one-upping each other in terms of visual presentation.



In regards to sound, the Zipper Interactive wanted to make sure they everything sounded and realistic; which helps to compliment the visuals. From explosions, to weapons being fired, the sound effects are grounded within the realm reality; which in part is due to their extensive work with the SOCOM franchise. The music that plays during the battles and in the game hub isnít epic, but strikes a chord in ones heart and mind as they prepare for battle or for victory. Another solid effort from Zipper Interactive to keep the player ingrown within the experience.

The one thing about MAG that separates itself from other online-only multiplayer titles is the sheer amount of depth and the amount of time you can spend lost within its universe. As if right this article, I have invested more than 17 hours in the game, with no sign of slowing down. Whether you late to tackle the massive 256 player battles or settle for the 64 player and 128 player battles, all that matters is you a treated to a unique gaming experience that is enjoyable day after day, week aft week. Also, as you progress through the game, beyond acquiring new weaponry and gear, you also gain access to other abilities like calling in support or air strikes, something you canít do in other FPS multiplayer experience.

Prior to MAG releasing, there really hasnít been an online multiplayer experience that can invest my time and yelling into without feeling cheated in some way. While MAG follows the line of online-only multiplayer titles (Warhawk and SOCOM: Confrontation), it separates itself by taking the action and realism to another level. While MAG is certainly the total package, I wouldnít be surprised if Zipper Interactive didnít release additional maps and gear via DLC to extend the experience for the end user. For those who werenít fully happy with the SOCOM: Confrontation online experience, itís time to suit up and prepare for war on a global scale with MAG.

9/10


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