256 Reasons to Save Up For A Playstation 3: Massive Action Game (MAG)
The PS2 was long held to be the cheap and cheerful games console offering a range of friendly, fun games for all age groups of casual and dedicated gamers. Hence it's strong position in the industry for years and the big release of the PS3. The problem (if you can call it that), by contrast, with the PS3 is it isn't a cheap, friendly console for everyone, it's a big piece of kit that carries as big a price as it's hardware and graphics capabilities. Rather than a household console for everyone (which is currently occupied by the Wii), it's price tag and capabilities make it more attractive to hardcore dedicated gamers than anyone else in the market. With it's price cut coming this year hopefully and big games releases coming soon, the PS3 is looking increasingly attractive to mid range gamers.
Chief among the big title games to be hitting our shelves on my radar is Massive Action Game (MAG). MAG will use the PS3's impressive hardware capabilities to some of the highest levels we've ever seen, allowing it to out perform the Xbox and even most PC games by offering 256 online multiplayer action. Gamers will play within an 8-player squad. There will be 4 squads within a platoon (32) and 4 platoons in a company (128). Two teams of 128 players will then compete against each other for each map. At each organisational level (Squad, Platoon, Company) one player will be designated as In Charge, with progressively greater power and control the higher the rank. Currently, these positions look like they'll be designated to those with the highest individual score and achievement, with each level having increasing ability to direct the battle, which will take place on battlefields and maps on a scale not hitherto seen on console FPS games.
Aside from the sheer size of the maps, teams and game in general, the backstory of the game is a great feature by itself. Individual battles will take place within the context of an on going war and power struggle between 3 different factions: S.V.E.R. A collection of individual war-torn countries brought together under one identity, RAVEN, a near-future relatively advanced weaponry and armour group and Valor, a US military equivalent. Within the backstory of each group and within the actions of each map vehicles, airstrikes and other features will be available depending on your rank. An interesting feature, and one which is more like an MMORPG game, will be the on going shift in power between the 3 factions which changes with results of individual battles. It is unclear if or how this will affect dynamics in future battles, how the factions will be balanced and how this will change the options available to members of individual factions. As mentioned in a previous article, it is unclear currently how faction selection will take place and if this will be fixed forever. I think it will be interesting to watch if and how attachment and identity to different factions takes place.
The third feature of the game which, although standard across most FPS games is expected to be bigger and better with MAG, is character and player customisation via ability levelling up and customisation of appearance, face, armour and voice. Rather than a fixed structure of upgrades as rewards for levelling up, achievements and points, the upgrade path is expected to be more complex, allowing for specialisation and roles via upgrade trees and choices more akin to MMORPG's or strategy games. By contrast to COD4 and COD5 where all upgrades are available to all players, MAG upgrades are expected to allow the player to improve some aspects at the expense of others, through which allowing the player to take on specialist roles. Also, by contrast to old school FPS games like Tribes 2, specialist roles won't be available for direct selection, rather be available through gradual tuning and improvement of specific abilities.
For all gamers, the upcoming game MAG is a great reason to save up and buy the PS3 you've wanted for months but couldn't quite justify. Release date is set in Q3 2009 so it shouldn't be too long a wait.