MAG


After having played it at PAX, and then again in the beta, there was no question at all about purchasing MAG which was out on Jan 26th. Granted I couldn’t get it on release date, but never the less I got my hands on a copy. I don’t usually play FPS games on consoles, if I do its because I rented it for one reason or another. I’m a computer chick, I like my mouse and I like my keyboard. So it was a bit odd for me to pick up a controller and figure it out. Thankfully I wasn’t going in entirely alone since icehole and argrim would also be playing.

Because I wasn’t used to the controller for aiming and shooting I decided to play a sniper, usually I’m more of a front-line blitz-player but I also have patience in spades. Adjusting wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and a little part of my brain was thankful there was no “cheating auto-aim idiocy.” Ok ok, so it wasn’t easy, but not because I couldn’t figure out the controls. I’ve never really played a sniper, so you try being at a distance trying to line up a shot with a moving target tapping and twitching your controller ever so carefully trying to anticipate where the heck your targets going to move. Then add that to grenades and smoke bombs going of obscuring your vision, friendlies passing your LOS, and some guy having snuck behind our lines to knife me in the back.

A few things I discovered outside the actual game-play was that your tiny wimpy little instruction book doesn’t help much with navigating the menu’s! Maybe its just mine but the one tiny picture they had was so dark, nothing was labeled to correlate to the descriptions below. Thankfully most of the menu’s are nearly self-explanatory. What was a revalation to me however was the far right of your screen, a dark space. Which if you have gone to your community tab and invited a friend to group, shows two little “peg guys” at the top, with a sequence of lights below showing you how many people are in group. So now you know where to look if you suspect someone was disconnected, or alternately you can press triangle. On the very bottom if you’ve joined a clan you see a set of dog-tags, with a number indicating how many of your people are online. In the center of that is a section that lights up when you join a queue for a game, it appears to be indicating how many people are also queued.

How to tell allies from enemies.

In all the confusion you might notice that you can’t tell whats-what in the beginning, especially as a sniper. So here’s the deal, the guys with teal showing up over their heads or on the map, are the 8 people in your squad. They are the ones you can communicate with if you have a headset hooked up (unless your a squad leader, platoon leader or oic.) anyone with a smaller darker blue triangle is an ally in a different squad. You can identify your squad-leader by looking for the battery symbol next to someone names, and who’s talking by checking out who’s got a headset popping up, which is nice because if someone calls for help you can check the edges of your screen to see where the sounds coming from. Don’t get confused if the headset icon didn’t show up and your standing over someone and hearing “took me out, over here quick” thats the enemy writhing in pain on the floor. Yup, if they are close enough you can hear what they are saying if they are saying anything at all.

As a sniper pin-pointing your enemies location is a bit more tricky, especially if your a good distance back. You can of course watch your mini-map to see the red-triangles moving around. Two things to note about that, the first is you might be aiming well beyond what your mini-map can show you. For example I’ve earned 3 of those long-shot ribbons so far… thats certainly beyond what you can see with the on-screen map.

Then you have to factor in this: if they aren’t firing their gun, or clomping around making noise, and if someone isn’t field-support with the super-tuned sound-catcher device you won’t see them pop up there. In fact even staring one dead in the face, they won’t have a triangle until they’ve fired a shot or some something noisy. So, a guy can sneak carefully behind enemy lines, and with a knife (silent weapon of choice) take you out without you ever having noticed he came up behind you. Which as a sniper is trouble if your focused in your scope lining up a shot. So here’s a hint, after you take down four or so guys, the enemy probably has a good idea where the sniper (you) is shooting from.

Keep an eye on your surroundings, and your mini-map even if you can’t use it for enemies – if you can’t see your blue-guys nearby covering possible approaches to your location on your map your in danger of having someone walk right up behind you and take you out. So move, but carefully. I can’t wait to try the silencer on the last-gun in the sniper-skill list it should (/fingers-crossed) give them a harder time locating me….

Excluding relying on red-arrows, You can try to sit there and look for movement on your own… Maybe a hairs-breath of movement near a rock indicates a sniper getting into place for a shot at you. It is safe to shoot if you have someone in your sights and they don’t have a blue or teal arrow, your friends show up no matter how far away they are.

Why the heck are people with the same amount of kills getting more XP than I am?

Well as a sniper I get 5xp per kill, and 3xp per assist. Thats not a whole lot but I didn’t really think about that initially. Then Argrim points out he’s getting 10xp per revive as a field medic, and xp for healing too. So he can run around with all the crazy people on the front-line or on the objective and just keep popping them full of drugs to get his levels. Probably as encouragement for people to actually you know, revive and heal you! Well I can’t say that kind of XP wouldn’t be nice but I’m often too far away to do much good. But what about the other folks earning the same amount of xp as you are per-kill?

Well, for one thing if your not a sniper- your usually near your group. If you are near your squad leader (the guy with a battery icon) you get bonuses to various things. If you are ON the objective (lets say objective A during a Sabotage run on defense) and your shooting people from up there. You get a Frago XP Bonus. If you are shooting and killing an enemy who has stepped foot on (or near) your objective, you get a Frago Bonus. But but but… /sniffles.

Yeah, as a sniper I could sit there and camp my objective, killing only what actually reached it. But by then one of the guys out there in the field who’s standing on the objective probably has a better chance at taking them out faster than you can. Personally I think the guys who push the enemy back, away from the objective, who take them out way before they even come close… is a MUCH better strategy. Just so long as someone- is still covering base. Sadly we don’t get the bonuses for covering the various avenues that are being used to approach.

Personally I’m willing to risk not getting my XP because I’ve had a few games where my S.E.V.R. Team-mates were so preoccupied trying to stay on/at the objective that I was watching them being swarmed from all angles, and we lose miserably. When your all clumped up like that all looking in one direction because its where you can get your bonuses, your missing a lot. One good sniper who gets behind you or in position – can take out the whole lot. It’s times like that I wish I had a headset, I’ve found a few sweet spots where I can keep on eye on several things at once, and if someone sneaks by my shots it would be nice to give the guys a heads up on their incoming.

Your playing as a team.

You might not know 6 of your 8 squad-mates, and you might not care. But there is one person who’s supposed to care, and thats the squad leader. It might not be so big a deal in the smaller games but having a squad leader who knows what they are doing, and can pay attention to whats going on with enemy movement – and their own squads movement can be a great asset. So why am I seeing squad leaders who don’t even have a headset? why aren’t the few people who do have a headset – and are giving orders and keeping us focused NOT the squad leader? It makes me frustrated. Knowing what to do as a squad-leader, is essential to knowing what to do as a platoon leader, which is essential to knowing what to do as a OIC.

Do not go into a domination game if you’ve got no clue what your doing. Its the critical point, you have 128 people on your team and 8 objectives to either assault or defend. You need to order air-strikes and know where to send them, you have to watch your maps, and your people. You have to actually *gasp* give orders or the whole thing will fall apart. I’ve watched it happened. The games we win, are the games where the leaders talk- the games we loose are the ones where the leaders don’t have a headset… and no one else steps up to the plate. Rather I should say that as long as the speakers are intelligent about giving their orders we have a good chance at winning… I’m holding off on being a leader of any sort since I don’t have a headset that works with my PS3 and if your going to be a GOOD one, it seems to be essential.

Suppression, is a 32 v 32 quick game that does not count towards the over-all shadow-war scores. Rather than playing against the other two factions (in my case Raven and Valor) your playing against a Platoon (4 squads of 8 people each) of your own faction in whats supposed to be a “friendly match” to train you. Your only real objective is to kill as many people as you can.

Sabotage, is a 32 v 32 game requiring you to take control of 2 objectives, and if your attacking then you move on to the third (larger) objective to rig some explosives. If you’ve done a good job at defense there won’t BE a third objective.

Acquisition, is a 64 v 64 game with two vehicles that you either defend or try and get the heck off the map. It’s not as neat and clean as a Sabotage game. You can expect a lot of close-quarters confusion, and with the targets moving you might find it difficult as a sniper to find a safe-spot where you can shoot-from. You’ve got a ton of people on the map – and its easy to get turned around in all the dust from grenades, rocket launchers, gas, smoke ect…

Domination, is the ultimate – 128 v 128 battle. You’ve got 4 squads in each platoon, and 4 platoons. Pay close attention to your Squad Leader, Platoon Leader, and OIC unless of course they happen to be idiots who’d rather sing the star spangled banner over all the other noise. And let me tell you, there is noise… Air strikes, ground shakes, grenades, gunfire… your in the thick of it now. And if your not paying attention your likely to miss the targets being called, air-strikes being brought in, your leaders swapping your squads objectives… It’s a war out there. Oh and don’t forget the fools who like to JAM your sensing equipment so your mini-map goes on the fritz and you have to rely on your eyes to tell you where the heck folks are… oh wait I do that as a sniper already.

Some other nifties.

Did you know, if you get past 5 kills in a row you get an awesome sound-track that starts to play for you? I wonder if you get a different one at 10kills and so on and so forth. I’m still working on getting up there but so far my max is 7 before someone stabs me in the back, those fools…

>.> Medic? medic? ahhhh crud I’m way off in nowhere-land with no mic to warn my spawning buddies back there… but wait, if i just sit here and let the + sign stick above my head for a bit then SOMEONE is bound to see it and know an enemy is in the area… A fairly good reason NOT to bleed out if you can see an ally on your mini-map… it lets someone (at least the medic who’s paying attention to these things) know where you went down, and consequently where the enemy is coming from.

Did you know the soundtrack for MAG is done by the ever-awesome Apocalyptica?

And, in case your wondering… you will see me in game as [omg] realitysyndrome (big surprise right?) and I play for S.E.V.R. at the moment…

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