Monday Night Combat
- August 16, 2010 11:03 AM PT
An addictive and appealing class-based shooter, Uber Entertainment's Monday Night Combat offers up plenty of fast-paced multiplayer action that's well worth it's fifteen dollar price-tag.
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Sure, Monday Night Combat rips a lot of ideas straight out of Team Fortress 2's playbook -- incredibly varied classes, frantic multiplayer action, and addictive team based tactical skirmishes -- but that's not really a problem when the resulting chaos is just so damn fun.
In fact, this cartoon-like third person shooter also borrows a very familiar format from Smash TV. In the future (far flung from Smash TV's not-so-distant date of 1999), football has been supplanted as the Monday night sport of choice in favor of Monday Night Combat, where teams of color-coded clones wage war against each other in order to protect their "Moneyballs" -- team-specific flags kept guarded at their respective bases. Successfully blowing your enemies to pieces and surviving round after round of attacks nets productive players cold, hard cash that can be used to upgrade class specific skills. Said winnings can also be dumped into various terminals around the arena, which will produce jump pads and high-tech turrets that will automatically attack the other team. Staying active enough to pocket the cash needed to keep up your defenses results in a constant tug-of-war that makes MNC truly unique, and for $15, the mileage you can get out of this Xbox Live exclusive is pretty extensive.
While 'Blitz' pits you against waves and waves of bots, 'Crossfire' lets players on each side litter the arena with their own mechanical armies.
MNC starts off with a pretty basic tutorial that only gives you the rundown on the standard "Assault" class, but there are five other player types you'll have access to once you get started. The "Tank" sports incredibly tough defense and heavy weaponry, "Support" carries an energy gun much like TF2's Medigun -- which can heal allies, fix broken turrets, and hurt enemies -- the female "Assassin" specializes in melee combat and fast movement, the "Gunner" class is a slower, more powerful "Tank" that can do more explosive damage, and the "Sniper" class comes equipped with long-range guns, booby traps, and weak defenses. In addition to the variety you get with the six classes, each one has a special set of secondary skills that really differentiate them, and I found myself occasionally test-driving each one to mix up the action.
MNC also offers two modes of play: "Blitz," where you defend your Moneyball from waves of CPU-controlled bots, and "Crossfire," where human-controlled teams battle it out to see who's bots can get to the other team's Moneyball first. Each mode is a ton of fun when you get full teams of players in the arena, and the small handful of maps does a great job of keeping things interesting from the get-go. Moreover, each mode really emphasizes teamwork, since players who get stingy with their cash will invariably create gaping holes in their defense -- you've got to spend money to make money, and MNC does a very good job of pressuring you to keep earning, spending, and laying down the hurt.
Each of MNC's massive arenas are impressively designed and awesomely atmospheric, but you'll only have a small handful of them to work with.
Even though it's highly recommended that you take the easier difficulty for a spin to familiarize yourself with the different classes, the Xbox Live crowd has been pretty competitive on every level of gameplay so far. Every game I've joined has been a frantic back-and-forth battle, whether against bots or humans, and whenever I started to hit a brick wall, all it took was a little solo practice before I felt comfortable getting back in the fray. No matter what, you'll net cash for everything you do in MNC, alone or with a team, so you'll never really have any feeling of getting stuck. This makes the difficulty curve satisfyingly manageable, and once you're gotten down the complexities of every single class, you'll definitely start to feel like a real badass.
Monday Night Combat isn't without flaws, though. So far, my biggest gripe has been that collecting extra cash relies on you racing the other players to dropped coins, which is a tactic that greatly favors a close combat class like the Assassin. While your endgame payout is mostly affected by your overall performance, I'd have been happier if I wasn't constantly scrabbling for spare change every time my turrets wiped out a handful of bots. But that's really a very minor gripe -- I'm a greedy player, and MNC throws plenty of money at you over the course of a week. Also, I'm not terribly happy with the lack of maps. "Blitz" only has a single level, and the few that come with "Crossfire" seem like it was built with future DLC purchases in mind.
Earning enough money to upgrade your chosen class's skills is one of several keys to victory. Without spending your cash, you'll be woefully underpowered when huge enemies like the Jackbots come rolling into town.
Depending on how you spend your winnings, Monday Night Combat gives you a ton of stuff to work towards, just like in any professional league. As your skills increase over time, you'll get better with certain maps, be able to unlock new custom classes with specific bonuses, and most importantly, be able to compete at the higher difficulty levels and longer campaigns. That's where the real money is.
Much like Blacklight: Tango Down, there's enough multiplayer content in MNC to keep you satisfied for days on end. Even though it's not as robust or refined as other Xbox Live-centric gaming experiences like Modern Warfare 2 or any of the recent Halo titles, MNC doesn't even feel like it's really going after that demographic. Team Fortress 2 addicts should definitely enjoy the very obvious similarities at work here, while the average gamer will probably appreciate the genuinely unique atmosphere that Monday Night Combat brings to the stage.
PROS: Impressive character progression, unique spin on tower defense combat, multiplayer is appropriately fast paced and tense. There's a solid amount of modes and general content for $15. Overall presentation is equal parts wacky, polished, and just downright fun.
CONS: With only a handful of robot types and not very many maps, the action will eventually lose some luster over time. Loot system favors close combat classes, which could probably use a bit of tweaking.