Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Video Game Review

‘MAG’ Broadens the Scope of Online Gaming

BY JEB HAUGHT

DEVELOPER: Zipper Interactive

PUBLISHER: Sony

SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3

PRICE: $59.99

ESRB RATING: Teen

REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

Most shooter fans get excited when developers raise the player limit of online matches past 16, so imagine the shock and awe gamers had when Sony announced a 256-player limit for their futuristic military game, “MAG.” Short for Massive Action Game, “MAG” is an online-only title that features various game types, drivable vehicles, huge maps and a surprisingly in-depth command hierarchy.

In the year 2025, a global crisis causes food shortages, riots and dwindling economies. Three Private Military Corporations rise from the rubble and begin a Shadow War against each other over the few remaining resources. New recruits must begin their paramilitary career by deciding whether to join Valor, Raven or S.V.E.R. and then help lead their PMC to victory!

The developers slowly introduce players to massive online matches by limiting them to 64-player matches at first, then 128 and then finally 256. Let me tell you, the combat is really intense in every match, but the action still feels slightly outdated. My guess is that it takes more resources to track so many people, as well as their projectiles, so compromises had to be made. This is also apparent in the mediocre visuals and average sound effects, but to my surprise, “MAG” has almost no lag whatsoever.

Lucky for us gamers, Zipper recognized the kind of chaos that could ensue without organization, so they included an in-depth command structure. Players can join eight-man squads and then work their way up the ranks to become squad leaders, platoon leaders and eventually a Company Commander. Playing well and assisting others helps players gain higher ranks in order to bark out commands and gain access to cool powers, such as calling in mortar and artillery strikes. A deep weapon and gear customization feature also helps to add variety to the game.

Despite all of these great features, “MAG” still feels slightly generic, but it’s currently the best game available for organized team play.

The XP Grind is No Fun Offline in ‘Ragnarok DS’

DEVELOPER: GungHo

PUBLISHER: XSEED Games

SYSTEM: Nintendo DS

PRICE: $34.99

ESRB RATING: Everyone

REVIEW RATING: 2 stars (out of 5)

Countless MMO’s have come and gone over the years, but “Ragnarok Online” has been entertaining virtual adventurers since 2002. It’s not surprising, then, that the developers attempted to introduce this lush world to a different audience in the form of “Ragnarok DS.” Unfortunately, the end result proves that their MMO formula doesn’t work well without masses of players.

Ales is an irritating young explorer who meets a confused girl named Sierra. She’s a bit of an enigma since her amnesia hides her past, but the two unwittingly embark on an epic adventure fueled by a great evil. Too bad the whiny characters make the game seem more like an episode of “The Jersey Shore” than a quest to save the world.

Although Ales is a generic class at the beginning of the game, he can eventually switch between many different job classes. This comes in handy because each class offers different abilities that are useful in certain situations. It also means players can swap out their two party members and change their own class for a totally different combat experience!

Different combat experiences are very welcome because fighting enemies gets old really fast. In an attempt to make this title “player-friendly,” the developers coded the game to practically play by itself. All the player has to do is tap the enemy and the whole party starts to attack. Tapping a special move’s icon and then drawing the appropriate symbol on the touch screen will perform that move. Combat seems cool at first, but it becomes painfully dull after killing the 50th smiling pink ball of slime.

Thankfully, “Ragnarok DS” isn’t bad enough to bring about the end of the Cosmos (as the name depicts), but it has doomed itself to utter insignificance.

REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM

5 stars = Must Have

4 stars = Very Good

3 stars = Above Average

2 stars = Bargain Bin

1 star = Don’t Bother

RATINGS KEY

Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

E: (Everyone)

E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)

T: Teen (13 and older)

M: Mature (17 and older)

To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM.

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