damnboyadvance's MAG (PlayStation 3) review

A fun, competitive shooter

The 256 player count isn't as epic as it could be, but all that aside, MAG is still a fun shooter that any fan of the genre will love.
What if I told you that there was a online shooter? You might not be amazed, but if I told you that it can run 256 players at a time, you'd probably be surprised. As great as it sounds, anybody would know that it doesn't automatically make it a great game. Luckily, it holds it's weight, and is something any fan of the shooter genre would enjoy.
When you first start it up, you'll be asked to create a player. The first thing you do is choose a PMC. There are 3 factions; S.V.E.R., Valor, and Raven. While the weapons are almost the same in terms of performance, the factions have different themes. For example, Valor is themed like an American Army, with weapons based on American weapons, and Raven is themed like a futuristic army, with futuristic weapons. No one faction is better or worse than another, but the game doesn't really help you make a choice as to which PMC you will choose.
There are several different modes to play in. The tutorial is the first one you'll probably do, but it doesn't show you that much of things like different weapons and inventory. There are two modes unlocked from the start after that; Suppression and Sabotage. Suppression is against your own faction, basically like training. There aren't any contract rewards (discussed later) for winning, since it's your own faction fighting. Sabotage is the first unlocked mode pitting you against other factions. Your objective is to either defend or capture points A and B, depending on if you are the attacker or defender. If both are captured and held at the same time, then it unlocks objective C. Successfully placing charges on it and blowing it up ends the game, with the attackers winning. But if the defenders hold it long enough, or don't give away objective A and B, they win when time runs out. Sabotage hold 64 players. Sabotage, although not holding many players, is probably the mode that is done best. It isn't ever confusing, and is very simple.
You earn XP (experience points) as you play. You can earn it in different ways. If you get a kill, assist in a kill, successfully place charges, successfully blow something up or capture a point, heal a person, revive a person, win a game, or a few other things, you get XP. The amount depends on what exactly you did. If you do something near or at an objective, you earn additional FRAGO points. A FRAGO is like an objective, but it is what exactly your team leader wanted you to do. When you earn FRAGO points, you earn just about 1 FRAGO point for every XP point. FRAGO points don't apply to everything though, including points for winning, or other bonus points. If you earn enough XP, you level up, which can do many things.
If you level up enough, you can unlock two more modes. The first is Acquisition. The goal for the attackers is to steal and secure two "secret" vehicles. For the defenders, it is to defend them until time runs out. Acquisition introduces bunkers to the game. Bunkers are equipped with a machine gun and 2 re-loadable rockets. They can be destroyed with charges or rockets, but can also be repaired with a repair kit, which is also introduced for use. Vehicles are also used in this game, both jeeps and tanks. Acquisition holds 128 players.
The last, and biggest, is Domination. Domination is the mode that holds 256 players. The goal for the attackers is to, "damage" the enemy, or more like their will to fight. This can be done by constantly destroying and securing assets and killing many enemies. The goal of the defenders is to hold on until time runs out. They once again can utilize bunkers and vehicles for this purpose, but the enemy can also utilize vehicles, as well as a chopper with a machine gun built in.
When a team wins a match, it can be a minor victory or a major victory. The same applies for minor lose or major lose. If a PMC continues to win a lot on a mode, they are awarded a contract. There are 3 contracts, all of which can reward a team holding that contract. The rewards aren't too big, with things such as +5% XP Bonus. But they are a good way of showing how a PMC is doing. Different modes have different contract holders, as well as different contract rewards, so one PMC cannot dominate the entire game.
When you get enough XP, you level up. Leveling up has many advantages. Every time you level up, you earn a spec point. It can be used to purchase extra weapons, gear, or abilities, such as less damage when you fall from high heights. It makes for a great amount of customization, and serves as an incentive to keep on playing. Everything costs a certain number of points. That is, the more valuable it is, the more spec points it costs. There are also different tiers. For example, to earn an item in the next tier, you have to spend at least 2 points in the previous tier. If you ever want to reset and choose your equipment all over again, you can Respec. But you can only respec if you have enough respec points, which are earned just like XP Points (1 XP = 1 Respec Point). This system works out well, and makes MAG stand out above other shooters.
For even more customization, you can create 5 loadouts. A loadout is simply what your character has. It's kind of like building your own customized classes. To balance this out, each item, attachment, or gun costs a certain number of points. The better it is, the more points it costs. These points are there from the start. You cannot earn any more than you already have. You can't go over that point limit. The only problem with this is that you have to equip a backup weapon. This is like an extra 100 points that you HAVE to spend. Other than that, creating your own classes like this is great, and is a great way to customize your experience.
Another advantage of leveling up is leadership roles. After reaching level 15, you can apply for a leadership role. The first one is Squad Leader. As a squad leader, you can set FRAGO's (fragmentation orders) and waypoints, as well as talk to other squad leaders or your platoon leader on a mic. It is very easy to choose who you are listening or talking to, and makes for better teamwork. You also give people around you extra perks, such as faster running speeds or quicker reload times. In other modes, you can also order air strikes or a UAV to find enemies. If your team wins, or you set up successful FRAGOs, you earn leadership points. After getting 50 leadership points, you can apply to be a platoon leader, which has additional abilities and perks. A platoon leader can lead 4 squad leaders, as well as his own squad. After getting 100 leadership points, you can become an Officer in Charge, which leads 4 platoon leaders and his own squad. Officer in Charge also has additional abilities and perks. The whole system is great, especially if you get a leader with a mic, and that knows what he is doing.
The graphics hold up great for a game running so many players. There is very little lag, and although the fire can be a little pixelated, it holds up great. While they aren't revolutionary graphics, they are good enough for a game of this scale. The soundtrack supports it. It is a little corny to be playing rock music at the beginning, end, and sometimes during matches, but it isn't so bad. And hey, it's the best they could probably do.

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