First person shooters have been growing in all aspects since the genre first came to be – better graphics, better AI for the enemies, more explosions, etc – but the one thing that has always been slow to progress, has been the limit on player numbers.
Due to the specifics of the genre, it’s very challenging to make a stable game that can support a few hundred players without showing some obscure bugs or lag problems – and when you try to do that on a console as well, your chances are even slimmer. When MAG was announced with its 256-player battles, gamers naturally got excited.
You read that number right – the developers have devised some very clever ways to handle the server-client interaction, allowing the game to easily handle 256 players together at any time. However, those of you who’ve played Battlefield games with their 64-player matches know how chaotic it can be to try and coordinate yourself with dozens of other teammates without any sort of hierarchy. In MAG, players are separated into squads, each assigned its own objective on the battlefield, and controlled by a single player.
Who gets to lead the squad is determined by a score called “leadership points”, which players build up progressively as they play – better teammates attain it quickly, and those who’re playing with an active microphone are given priority as well. Generally, the game ensures that the most experienced players are always put in charge, allowing for a very interesting recreation of real-life military ranks and commanding.
Battles are fast-paced and intense, with lots of action going on all around you at the same time. If you don’t enjoy such massive battles, you can always opt for some of the smaller gameplay modes, but the smallest you can get is 64 players.
MAG uses a highly advanced graphics engine which draws everything in spectacular detail, from the world to the players. It’s amazing how the game is able to draw every player model with a high load of polygons, when you keep in mind the number of players on your screen at any given time. Explosions look especially realistic and vibrant, and the debris flying around add up to the action feeling quite well.
We were definitely impressed with how well the game performs even on a full server – there are practically no slowdowns, no long loading times, and last but not least, no lag issues.
If you ever feel like you could use more content for your MAG, there’s some DLC available for grabs, which gives you some new goodies like a new type of grenade, customization options for your character, as well as new editions of some of the weapons. That DLC pack in particular is free, though there’s another one that is paid for and contains new levels and gameplay modes, among other things.
MAG is as close as you can get to a massive shooter experience right now – with 256 players, you really feel like you’re on the battlefield, and even the smaller modes feel crazy and chaotic.