Post-E3 2008: MAG: Massive Action Game
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: First Person Shooter
Sony ended their E3 08 Press Conference with something that has long been speculated by people paying attention: a trailer for Zipper Interactive’s new ‘Massive Action Game’, MAG. For a couple years now there have been job postings on Zipper’s website looking for people with experience in creating and managing MMOs. This combined with the fact that the SOCOM name has moved on to another developer (Slant Six Games), it was no shock to me when Sony finally showed what the original SOCOM creators have been working on for the past 3 years.
Though not a whole lot of information has been given out yet, what we do know sounds very ambitious and interesting. MAG is a 256 player online-only shooter, where you become a part of an 8-man squad. Within this 8-man squad you are given a ranking depending on your experience and leadership abilities. If you have a history of being a strong player you can take up the leadership role and command your squad.
Much like Resistance 2, each squad will have different objectives within this massive 256-player war. This will hopefully help to keep the matches focused and make you feel like you are contributing rather than just being another on a long list of obituaries.
Only a single in-game screen shot of MAG has been shown so far (the E3 trailer was entirely CG), but it looks pretty nice for a screen grab. If they can maintain that visual fidelity and locked framerate with 256 players in a match once the game hits, then you’ll be seeing a lot of impressed faces.
Of course, since Zipper popularized clan support on consoles with the release of SOCOM and its sequels, you can fully expect MAG to have the same strong clan support and community features of their past games. It’ll be interesting to see how they expand on that but I imagine they’ll be taking cues from SOCOM Confrontation and it’s robust, social-network-like, community features.
While the game sounds like it has a lot of potential, there are a few pitfalls to be aware of. Zipper hasn’t released a really good console game since 2003 when they released SOCOM II (design and implementation-wise, SOCOM III was a disaster). Also, shortly after that David Sears, lead designer of the first two titles, left the company to pursue other opportunities. How much of that original SOCOM team is really left is what I’m left to question, but it's encouraging to see a developer taking some risks in the ‘me too’ shooter genre.
Right now MAG: Massive Action Game is targeting a spring 2009 release date, but don’t expect this one to hit the market till fall 2009 at the earliest.