If a video game only includes one type of gameplay, then it better come close to perfecting that offering.
The market is flooded with games that offer diverse gameplay modes, so releasing a game without multiple options dooms the game unless that single mode is flawless.
Sony’s “MAG,” which was released Jan. 26 with only online gameplay, isn’t flawless.
The PlayStation 3 exclusive allows gamers to play as a member of one of three private military companies, and allows players to unlock items and upgrade your soldier through a ranking system much like the one gamers are familiar with from the “Call of Duty” series.
The game, however, is unique because it boasts up to 256-player online battles at a time, which is unprecedented in scope for console games.
But despite the promise of massive battles, “MAG” is bogged down by being a slightly-above average first-person shooter and also because of logistical problems.
There are plenty of bugs in the game, and I seem to encounter new ones often. The servers have downtimes that render the game unplayable.
Even the well-oiled machine that is “Modern Warfare 2” has some issues that bog down online play, and there are fewer than 20 players in a game at a time.
It was unrealistic to believe that 256-player online gameplay wouldn’t have some glitches, but I’m not certain how many of those glitches are related to the servers or to the actual game.
Developer Zipper Interactive delivered one of the previous console generation’s biggest hits in “SOCOM.” That game was one of the first console games to offer online gameplay, so it made sense that Zipper would be the team to undertake a game of this size.
The gameplay is pretty standard for a first-person shooter, but it certainly isn’t as strong as recent titles in the “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” series. It might not seem fair to compare this game — or any other — to the “Modern Warfare” series, but that game has set the standard of excellence for a first-person shooter set in modern days.
Zipper does deserve credit for introducing some groundbreaking ideas for console gaming. No company has attempted to make an online mode the size and scope of “MAG’s” 256-player mode.
The graphics aren’t groundbreaking, but they are better than I would have guessed for a game that can hold so many moving parts.
The game’s leveling system allows a player to move up the rankings just like in other games to unlock new perks and weapons.
However, “MAG” also allows experienced players to command squads and platoons. It really emphasizes teamwork inside the individual squads to achieve goals and earn experience points.
If nothing else, maybe this game paves the way for other developers to take chances and broaden the horizons for online gaming. Without “SOCOM,” online gaming might not have developed in the same way, and we might not have some of the great modern shooters that have come out in recent years. “MAG” could have that same effect.