Are You Ready for Some Combat?
The variety of titles included in this year’s Summer of Arcade event has been nice to see. We’ve already gotten an atmospheric 2D side-scroller, a revived and reworked arcade racer, and a multiplayer version of Castlevania. This week we have been given an interesting competitive third-person shooter in the form of Monday Night Combat (MNC). While it is possible to look at MNC and simply dismiss it as just another shooter on the Xbox 360, this would be a mistake.
Although nothing in MNC is truly unique, the elements that it borrows are implemented well and still make the experience feel distinctive once mixed together. There are many similarities to Team Fortress in MNC. For one, this game is a class-based shooter that rewards team diversity. Players are able to choose from any of the game’s six classes, ranging from the offensive-minded Gunner to the healing and fixing Support class.
Each class is distinctive, having their own particular strengths and weaknesses. For instance, a Gunner has the highest powered weapon with the largest clip but moves at a much slower rate than most other characters. On the other hand, Assassins are extremely fast and have the ability to become invisible for short periods of time but have a weak ranged weapon and can’t take much punishment before going down. While it can be difficult to find an absolute favorite, since every class seems to have both a wanted and unwanted attribute, it is possible to enjoy playing the game as any one of them since they feel so well-balanced.
Of course, to be successful while playing in teams online, you’ll need to have a wide variety of classes present. If everyone on one team is playing as a Gunner, they may have the most firepower but will be susceptible to getting ambushed by Assassins, Assault, and Sniper characters on the opposing team. The gameplay in MNC is truly at its best when you have a skilled team that all chose different classes. There aren’t many things more satisfying than sneaking up behind an enemy engaged in combat with a friendly Gunner and executing him with a swift sword strike as an Assassin.
While the different character classes’ abilities and skills are an important part of the game, they aren’t the only focus. As a single-player game, MNC actually feels more like a juiced-up tower defense game than a shooter. Killing enemies or bots will net you cash that can be used to upgrade your skills or build turrets. Scattered throughout the game’s maps are nodes on which you are able to build turrets for defense. There are four varieties to choose from ranging from cheaper, weaker close combat turrets to the more expensive missile turrets. Placing the correct turrets in the appropriate spots can make a huge difference when trying to survive, as you’ll need to rely on their firepower in order to protect your Moneyball from the advancing waves of bots.
MNC is essentially a futuristic sport, having humans defending their Moneyball (a large glowing orb full of cash) from bots or, in multiplayer, other humans. In Blitz mode, up to four players can defend their Moneyball against increasingly more destructive waves of A.I. controlled bots. While the game does seem to adapt the difficulty to match the number of players involved in a match, the advantage of having multiple players using different classes far outweighs the increased number of enemies. This mode can be played on a variety of different difficulties; however, this simply means having to successfully protect your Moneyball from more or less waves of enemies.
However, the game’s biggest appeal comes in the form of its other mode, Crossfire. This mode is basically a variant of capture the flag, but it’s a good one. Two teams, with up to six players each, must attempt to destroy the other team’s Moneyball. While this may sound generic, there are a couple variables that keep this mode feeling fresh and entertaining. One is that you will also need to keep your Moneyball protected. Balancing your team’s offense and defense can be difficult, but the opposition always makes sure you’re on your toes.
The other aspect that keeps things interesting is that human players can’t destroy the other team’s Moneyball outright. In order to accomplish your goal, you’ll need to help clear the way for your constantly spawning A.I. bots. Only after your bots have destroyed the opposing team’s Moneyball’s shields can players on your team begin to damage it. This dynamic creates a chokepoint tug of war, with both teams constantly trying to push through the enemy’s defenses to get to their Moneyball.
While the game’s character classes seem well-balanced and the gameplay is entertaining, there are two issues I have with this game. The first is that the single-player experience isn’t nearly as engaging as the multiplayer. While there are several difficulties to choose from, each wave eventually becomes a known quantity, making it feel more monotonous than challenging. My other gripe is that there are only two modes. Although you could play the Crossfire mode indefinitely, as things always change because of human variables, and earning cash to create custom classes adds to replayability, it would be nice to have more options. I’m sure if the game sells well, we’re likely to see new modes appear as DLC, however, fifteen dollars is a bit pricy for just one co-op and one competitive multiplayer mode.
When your main complaint about a game is that there simply isn’t enough of it, that’s a good sign. The well-balanced classes, interesting Crossfire mode, and ability to make use of turrets make MNC an entertaining experience. While it would have been nice if there were a few more modes to choose from, what’s there is fun and worth playing. For my money, I believe ten dollars would have been a more appropriate price for MNC, however, if you’ve got friends to play with and get into creating custom classes, what’s an extra five dollars? Even at fifteen dollars, anyone who enjoys a lighthearted, but competitive, shooter experience should check out MNC.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
While the visuals are cartoony, they fit the experience. Also, there are some nice touches, such as enemy’s eyes changing colors as they are damaged to indicate their remaining health. 3.8 Control
The controls work well, however, it can be difficult to learn how to perform every classes maneuvers. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects mix well with the game’s announcer, who is often humorous and fits the game’s lighthearted aesthetic perfectly. 4.1 Play Value
With only two modes, MNC is light on options. However, what’s there is entertaining, addictive, and provides replayability in the form of earning cash to purchase custom classes. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.