Massive Action Game: Reasserting FPS Teamwork
MAG is a 128-aside first person shooter exclusive to PS3 out in Europe on the 29th of this month. And basically that’s all you need to know, along with a 7 day open beta available on PSN from Monday 4th. But before you rush to order PS3 slims/preorder the game humour me for a minute and hear it out. I am (puts on best fanboi expressive tones) super excited with this title. More so than MW2. MW2 was formulaic. MW2 ignored the failings of it’s predecessor. Meaning
MW2 has lost my interest.
128 a side? I’ll sign myself up for some of that right away sir. And, since I completely failed to get in on any previous beta action, it has a completely clean slate in my mind. Minimal hype (beyond the obvious collective jaw dropping at the 256 number) and of decidedly sketchy quality hopefully means a tasty morsel of gaming history can hit team-oriented console fighters without the usual obscene rendering of bunny hopping, noob tubing Modern Warfare nuts.
That’s right – the thought has occurred that perhaps this release has hit the perfect release date; in the relative gaming calm following the pre-Xmas hype of biblical proportions surrounding Infinity Ward’s latest shrink-wrapped ‘epic’, a team oriented shooter on a scale never attempted before for consoles may well just get the audience it needs to be a success.
Because let’s face facts; Modern Warfare is a heat-sink for the Chuck Norris shooter philosophy. More kills for the individual bring more ways of adding to that count via killstreaks. It epitomises the exact opposite of team based gameplay – that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In MW2 if a player is good enough to call in an AC130 the whole opposition team is pretty much fucked for a set period of time. With Nukes you can literally win the game on your own. Rambo on steroids.
MAG’s company v company formations by contrast break down into individual troop and squad roles, recreating that extra dimension missing from the CoD franchise – true teamwork dynamics. While they may be nothing more than BF2 style point at target and scream ‘KILL’, the fact these pitched battles will be happening all over the map and in different stages is what the fog of war is all about.
Gamers need to understand this differentiation. Those who jump into a MAG game need to know killstreak’s are irrelevant if it’s not contributing to your squad’s overall mission. What’s more, to provide an immersive experience teammates will have to recognise decisive moments in the battle and how to impact them. Players will need to work together, keep a close eye on eachother’s actions and respond accordingly. This isn’t an easy skill and it plagues the console team-based multiplayer experience. If Modern Warfare acts as mothership to the killsteak collectors leaving MAG to a more discerning shooter clientèle a richer experience will surely result.
Ultimately this highlights the point that in the race to provide the gamer with a more immersive, deeper playing experience there are two routes designers can go down – tweaking game mechanics to encourage the adoption of more co-operative tactics or tweaking the brand to encourage the take up by a specific ‘level’ of gamer competence.
Btw there’s 3 factions in MAG – in real terms Americans, Austrians & Slavs. So for me the choice is between my ex Austro-Germanic clan buddies in Raven or the always cool roosky alternative SVER – SVER are edging it right this moment due to already being equipped with both gutties and hoodies. Check out the SVER corporate Facebook page – leaving aside the fanboi craptalk – from the vehicle & location images it evokes a graphical style very reminiscent of BF2.