MAG Beta – Lazygamer Hands On – MAG or MEH?

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After months and months of hearing about it, we have finally been given the chance to actually give the Playstation 3’s new massive shooter exclusive a go online.

MAG promises huge battles, teamwork and a lot of other stuff that involves manly men frolicking around together and with a download size of over 2GB’s, not many folks have the spare bandwidth to give it a go.

This is where we come in, of course, and thanks to iPeg who sponsors our bandwidth, we can bring you this first look at MAG.

Hit the jump for our thoughts.

Just something I wanted to point out, is that the game is obviously still in Beta so my impressions are based on something that is not considered a final product.

So how does MAG work? When you begin the game you are given the choice to join one of 3 factions, and these factions will always be duking it out against each other.

You get to choose how your ass-kicker looks and then also play around with some load-outs that are limited in the beginning, requiring level-ups to unlock more gears a la Modern Warfare 2. There are some differences, such as the ability to pick different types of armour that vary from lightweight to bullet-eating and so on.

To get the game going, you pick from a variety of game modes (most have level requirements before you can play them). Once you hop into a game you are assigned to a squad (you can move to others if you like) and then the game begins.

The general feeling that you get from playing MAG is that you are in a large battle, which is especially given by the fact that different squads are assigned to different objectives in game modes like sabotage, which give you a feeling of scale when you know that whilst you are attacking a point, there are other players on the other side of the map having their own battle.

There are some other neat features, like the ability to parachute into the levels at certain spawn points, which allow for better positioning, but open you up to some nasty sniper fire.

The truth about MAG though, is that I feel underwhelmed about my experience so far and even have a few complaints.

Controls and the targeting mechanic feel flimsy and inaccurate when compared to other shooters and that’s not a good thing when you are going to spend most of your time shooting at things. Graphics aren’t really anything to write home about either, but the maps are pretty large so one could let that slide.

Game modes can also be horribly imbalanced, which I hope gets sorted out by the time it hits shelves. In the sabotage game mode, I did not, in my entire time playing the game, ever see an attacking team ever win. The game mode also became littered with spawn campers and defending teams just sitting back and blasting away the attackers.

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A lot of this could be sorted with some good strategies and co-ordination with other squads, which is kind of the point of the game. This becomes a serious issue, especially for an exclusive PS3 title when most players don’t have headsets and to make matters worse, the few that do barely say a thing anyway.

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Also, be warned, this is a big online game. While the netcode is actually very decent (works like COD and Killzone 2, which means that with lag you still aim at the target and not ahead) the problem is that South African gamers may have a hard time. We played MAG on a 4MB ADSL line with unshaped bandwidth and the lag was still pretty rough to cope with, often giving the opponents a good one second head start on you in a gun battle. So if you have a smaller line and aren’t running unshaped bandwidth, you may have just gotten some bad news.

The entire MAG experience has honestly left me feeling a little underwhelmed. It feels a little too much like just another generic war shooter, with nothing except the large scale battles going for it.

On that note, I need to point out two major problems for MAG. These problems go by the names of Modern Warfare 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Sure MAG promises bigger battles but the game still has to keep up with the Jones’s, and Mr. Jones just bought himself a big ol’ fancy car and a nice house on the hills.

While this hands-on is not a review, I can say this much, that with the current time that I spent with MAG, I don’t feel incredibly excited for the full game anymore, it was kind of disappointing.

While some gamers out there will still enjoy the game, in my honest opinion I currently feel like it doesn’t have the excitement of Killzone 2 and Modern Warfare 2 or the big-battle fun factor that Battlefield brings to the plate.

Keep in mind once again that the game is still in beta, so none of this will mean anything if the developers take the right steps forward leading up to the final release of the title. We will just have to wait and see when we review the final product in future.

Last Updated: January 11, 2010

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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