MAG for PS3 | Game review

PS3; £44.99; 16+; Sony/Zipper Interactive

So you’ve bought MAG, taken it home, removed it from the packaging, excitedly placed it in your PS3, and then you discover that it won’t work unless your console’s connected to the internet.

So you connect your console to the internet, wait more than half an hour for software updates to download and install, agree to a new set of terms and conditions, and then, once you’ve done all that, and then spent a couple of minutes customising your character, and then slogged through a rather buggy training mission, and THEN spent a good few hours getting to grips with the early levels, (which will mostly involving running around lost for a few minutes before getting shot in the head) – then, finally, you might start actually enjoying MAG. But not all that much.

As online shooters go, it’s really nothing special. The battlegrounds, although huge, are all grey and brown industrial blah; the controls and weaponry are fine, but hold no surprises; and the whole concept seems to be a bit of an afterthought – it’s the year 2025, and you’re a mercenary with a private military company that’s at war with some competing private military companies, and that’s about it. MAG’s sole USP is the sheer number of online players – up to 256 at one time. It’s certainly impressive that the game runs so smoothly with so many participating, but unfortunately the huge number of people you’re playing alongside is also MAG’s biggest drawback.

The aim is to organise into efficient units, with more experienced players getting promoted to leadership roles, giving orders to eight-player squads or four-squad platoons. It’s a nice idea but, as anyone with any experience of similar games will know, teamwork is never an easy thing to foster. Most players won’t have headsets, and most will follow orders sporadically at best. Some might be entirely useless, or insufferably bossy, or just leave their mic open while they repeatedly scream at their 12-year-old brother to get out of the way of the TV. Others might just shoot their team-mates for a laugh.

MAG is really intended for serious gamers – those who’ll think long and hard about their battle strategy, and who won’t appreciate team-mates who don’t take the game’s objectives seriously enough. Unfortunately, most people probably won’t be taking it all that seriously, and in the end everyone’s just going to get vaguely annoyed with everyone else.

There is fun to be had with MAG. In many ways it’s a perfectly serviceable, if unspectacular, online shooter, but for every one of its good points there’s a niggling irritation. Zipper Interactive could perhaps have made a much better game had they kept in mind that size isn’t everything.

Rating: 3/5

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Adam Boult

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