I spent the better part of my morning trying out "the next big thing in online multiplayer." MAG first got my attention with the promise of massive online matches. In fact it's basically been the game's tagline; "256 player matches!" Unfortunately you don't really get to experience that in the beta since the only available gametype is limited to 64 players.
The gametype in the beta is called Domination, err... sorry, I mean Sabotage. It's your run-of-the-mill capture and hold the objective game, so who cares what they call it. They could have called it "Free the Minks" and centered the game around eco-terrorism. At least that would have been original.
As far as gameplay goes, I was hoping for something along the lines of Modern Warfare 2 (excellent control & mechanics) meets Battlefield 2 (vehicles, large scale), but instead all I got was Battlefield 2 sans vehicles.
With the exception of vehicles (which aren't featured in the beta, yet) it feels like just about everything else about MAG was lifted straight about of Battlefield 2. The shooting mechanics are eerily similar, which is a shame since they're terrible in Battlefield 2. In a FPS I want the guns to behave like real guns. These guns feel like toys. Shooting at any kind of distance is a waste of time since even if you score a hit (or two, or three) it won't be enough to kill.
The melee attack is a blatant Modern Warfare 2 ripoff other than the mechanics of it are laughably bad. Scoring a hit isn't easy, and usually doesn't kill immediately. You usually just end up dancing around in circles, knives flailing uselessly, before someone finally gives up and just shoot the other guy.
Yes, this is only the beta, but "big" seems to be the only thing new that MAG has to offer. In most respects it feels sub-par compared to other recent FPS games. It could still end up on my shopping list if it offers something that neither the Battlefield or Call of Duty games do, namely split-screen online play.
MAG could very well be the hottest FPS of the year, if it was 2006.