|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Zipper Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan.26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (256 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Despite the mixed feelings we have about some of Zipper's decisions for its squad tactics and communication, we have absolutely zero mixed feelings about the maps/levels on which these games are played. They are absolutely incredible and very well could be the most amazing set of multiplayer maps ever released! Not only is every map huge and sprawling, but they're also extremely full. You'll never have to run exceptionally long distances to get back into the battle (like many other multiplayer games with big maps) because the battle is all around you. There are dozens of objectives strewn across the playing field, so there's always something to do.
Furthermore, they're not just technically brilliant but also drop-dead gorgeous to look at. These levels are littered with detail and jaw-dropping set pieces that blow away anything we've ever seen online before. One map that made a particularly strong impression on us during our play time was a Sabotage map in the Copper Hills series of levels. At first it opens up to two objectives that must be controlled simultaneously by the attacking team. The level consists of a dilapidated, abandoned old town which borders a large rail yard. Soldiers weave in between the houses, buildings, and ruined railcars to secure the objectives, moving on to a third objective that unlocks.
As we ran towards the new objective, we saw a huge, monolithic, ruined refinery show up on the horizon. Our team's soldiers were entrenched in the fortifications below hurling grenades into the huge gaping holes in the refinery walls, while the enemy rained down RPG fire on the teams below. All the while, another squad breached the side entrances and was fighting its way up the stairs towards the top of the building where the objective was located. To call this an epic battle, is a gross understatement and a disservice to what MAG's map designers have achieved.
The last bit worth discussing is the 'Shadow War', a meta-game built into MAG that is meant to give meaning and an overall sense of progression to online victories. The three factions of the game gain points towards gaining "contracts" by winning more matches than other teams. We've noticed that this system has become a bit of a problem in the early days of the game. The S.V.E.R. faction is winning every game type, and it seems to be because many of the best players, who wanted to compete to win, joined up with the highest ranked faction. Now S.V.E.R. is steamrolling the competition and winning contract team buffs. It may even out over time, but it's something that has become evident early on.
The bottom-line is that MAG is a game that requires a pretty serious time-commitment in order to enjoy. You won't get involved with the Shadow War until you've been playing for a while, and most of the individual leveling seems to be designed with hardcore players in mind, possibly taking hundreds of hours to fully level-up. Anyone considering buying MAG needs to decide for themselves which side of the fence they fall on. If you're a hardcore shooter fan looking to invest the next few months of your spare time into a new online opus, then fire away because you're going to love MAG. But if you're a more casual online shooter fan, then you may want to think twice.
CCC Freelance Writer