All this is controlled and directed by squad leaders and commanders. When you've levelled up enough you can apply for certain leadership roles, meaning you can pick objectives and direct the flow of battle to help towards the overall objective. Usually completely annihilating the enemy.
The ordering system is simple enough - just aim at a marker and hit the 'kill it to death' button. Whatever you've chosen then lights up on everyone else's map. Some things are mission specific, like taking out pipelines or gates while others simply influence the battle. For example, taking out the enemies' air support to enable helicopters to fly in and create a forward spawn point.
Above: Remember to bend your knees when you land
Amazingly, people actually follow orders - in the Beta, at least. Partly because you get a FRAGO bonus, boosting your XP - so following 'FRAGmentary Orders' issued by squad leaders and you'll get promoted and unlock new weapons or abilities. Mainly, though, the whole game is built around teamwork, so going solo in MAG is like going clubbing without any friends. Sure, you get to hear the music and see the lights but you are alone. So very alone.
The guns could be stronger. Both literally - it can feel like you're hosing enemies to no effect - and in terms of overall impact. Squeeze the trigger in Modern Warfare 2 and it's like a metal terrier barking in your hand. In MAG it's more like someone someone saying 'bang!' but not really feeling it.
Above: MAG's guns: weak sauce
Vehicles also feel a little misplaced. They don't seem to fit in on the maps. They can only really get around on the roads. You can tear into the nearest fight but rather than having a decisive affect on the tide of battle it's more a case of trying to park once you're there. While people shoot at you.
It's still impressive, though. Both for the sheer size of the damn thing and because people are taking it seriously. We never managed a promotion to a command rank because the Beta only allowed one character save, meaning we had to keep deleting it to try out each of the factions (more on those in a moment).
Fortunately you don't have to have your heart set on Commander In Chief Of The Whole Universe to enjoy yourself. Most of the action is on the ground, in direct conflict, anyway. So as long as you don't mind following orders (blow up the flashing bit of the map, usually) then things are looking good for MAG.
Next: The game has three playable factions: how different are they?
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