Console action game fans are used to shooting it out with 16 or 18 other players, but upcoming Sony release MAG is about to kick it up a notch.
And by "a notch" we mean "about 240 notches." Set in the year 2025, where private military forces are warring over lucrative contracts, MAG's online matches will support up to 256 individual players -- a first for console shooters.
A recipe for chaos? Maybe, but at least MAG has a chain of command. Players are organized into eight-man squads, each with its own commanding officer. Four squads make a platoon, four platoons forms a company, and players head up each level of organization.
If you've ever played an online game, you may be wondering exactly how that's going to reduce confusion. So you'll be relieved to hear the developers don't just let any random fool take the reins of an entire faction. Instead, players with ambitions to command will have to prove themselves as a grunt, while those in higher levels of command will already have succeeded at squad-leader levels. More experience also grants access to higher levels of gear, much like in last year's hit Modern Warfare 2 -- and good leaders gain perks that give bonuses to all the soldiers under their command.
Sounds good, but will players actually be prepared to follow orders? Smartly, MAG builds in a reward system that doles out incentives for fulfilling objectives that your commander considers important. That extends way beyond just shooting opposing players: for example, destroying obstacles or taking out anti-aircraft guns. We're betting there will still be headstrong types who prefer to go it alone -- or those who don't take direction well -- but they're not going to advance at the same rate as team players.
MAG's scale plays into its map design, too. Expect to find MAG games playing out over landscapes more akin to Grand Theft Auto IV than what you'd expect from the smaller, more compact maps from the Halo or Call of Duty games. Fortunately, the game also packs drivable vehicles like APCs and tanks to help players navigate the terrain, and despite the mammoth scale, the visuals are every bit as good as any other top-tier shooter you care to name.
MAG comes to us from the team behind Sony's long-running military action series SOCOM, so they're no stranger to gunplay, and reports from the game's just-concluded beta test are encouraging. During the test, over a million players downloaded the game, and an impressive number played the game enough to max out their characters. You'll get your chance to enlist on Jan 26.http://videogames.yahoo.com/events/plugged-in/mag-promises-playstation-s-biggest-firefights/1385898
See a video on the game at the link above.