Halo 2 Was The Last Online Shooter To Hook Me Like MAG.

My XBOX Live subscription had been running for about 6 months and I'd had many enjoyable sessions on Project Gotham Racing 2. But Live never truly demonstrated its potential until later that year. Halo 2 released. Prior to Halo 2, my only real exposure to online shooters on a console had come via Quake III Arena on the Dreamcast, which was a fantastic game for the time. But Halo 2 really changed everything: the scale, the maps, the ranking, the gameplay, the netcode. Everything about Halo 2 blew my mind in a way no other shooter has managed since. I can appreciate the brilliance of Modern Warfare 2 - the tight gameplay mechanics and upgrade system make it truly addictive. But at the core, I still feel like I'm playing Halo 2. It's infinitely better, of course, but I've been waiting for a game that feels different. MAG is the change I've been craving.

MAG is not for everyone. You only need to look at the spread of reviews and opinion across the Internet: this is a real hit or miss shooter, a long way from the widely acclaimed Call Of Duty franchise. At first, MAG is probably one of the most confusing games out there; the controls feel clunky, the action slow paced and the scale, just too big.

But perseverance is the key here. The rewards aren't immediate, but they do come. Eventually. This is a game you have to invest in, that demands learning, observation, tactics, and team-work. There are no lone heroes in MAG, just squads and leaders. MAG is awesome.

What I like most about MAG is that sense of involvement. Yes, there are 256 players in the map and yes, your 8-man squad is responsible for just an 1/8th of the objectives on that map. But anything you do can make a difference. Reviving a team-mate at just the right moment, getting in and taking out a bunker, killing that sniper who's been staring at your spawn points - all are minimal objectives, but massively important on the route to victory. Perhaps that sounds like an oxymoron, a contradiction. It probably is. But I can't deny that pang of achievement I get when I take down an artillery unit and stop the enemy from spawning closer to our base. It's a small victory in the scale of an overarching battle - but it feels like a personal victory for my squad.

And that's where MAG really does change the game. I'm not fighting for myself, I'm fighting for my team-mates. I'm not sprinting around the map in the hope of picking up my next 5XP. I'm sticking with my squad, issuing commands and reviving my fallen friends. And Zipper want to reward me for playing in that way. I'm still seeking out my 5XP, absolutely, but in helping my team I'm actually helping myself. And I'm getting better equipped all the time.

That's where MAG feels different. That's where MAG has me hooked unlike the host of iterative competitive shooters. I'm playing for myself, I'm playing for others, I'm playing for my faction. I'm involved and I'm addicted.

MAG is the change I've been craving.

“Twiggy” is an anonymous PushSquare columnist who has been spotted in three major cities across the globe. It’s rumoured he’s on the run from the British monarchy who accused him of treason.

Previous entries in the “Twiggy” range: