Monday Night Combat: review

  • Format: XBLA
  • Unleashed: Out now
  • Publisher: Uber Entertainment, Inc.
  • Developer: Uber Entertainment, Inc.
  • Players: 1-12
  • Site: http://www.uberent.com/

Xbox Live’s “Summer of Arcade” is a grab bag. There is some good and bad. And there is always at least one surprise hit. This summer, it seems, that honour can be awarded to Monday Night Combat.

From Uber Entertainment, Monday Night Combat combines two fan-favourite genres: third-person class-based shooters and tower defense games. The game is set in a quirky arena-style world fashioned after professional sports leagues. There are goofy brand-name sponsors, mascots who toss money, and an extremely busty support mechanic known as the “pit girl.” The humour is enjoyable—if simple.

The Assault puts the moves on Pit Girl...

A saving grace of MNC is that it is a tight, concise product. The concept could have easily been diluted and muddied by too many game types, too many classes, and more. But the content is executed well and makes for some very fun gaming. For 1200 MS points, there is a lot of value in what is presented.

There are two game types: Blitz and Crossfire. Both fundamentally revolve around protecting your team’s “moneyball.” In Blitz, a team of up to four players must defend the moneyball against an increasingly numerous and powerful army of AI-controlled robots. If Gears of War Horde mode or the Firefight mode of Halo 3: ODST got you excited, then Blitz is probably for you. Crossfire is the online multiplayer component. Two teams of six face off, attempting to simultaneously protect their moneyball and destroy the opposing team’s moneyball. The interesting feature of Crossfire is that the moneyball’s shields cannot be penetrated by the human players. For that, they must rely upon their team’s AI-controlled robot troops, which players can guide and protect. This is the key to winning MNC: protect your team’s robots and help them take down the other team’s moneyball. This one gameplay feature is what makes the online MNC experience truly unique and quells all of those early (and presumptuous) comparisons to Team Fortress 2.

Those comparisons were probably knee-jerk reactions to MNC’s stock character classes. There are six, and most are familiar to seasoned gamers: the assault, the gunner, the support, etc. Each has four abilities that they can upgrade mid-combat by earning money. One or any combination of these classes can conquer the easier levels of Blitz mode. But in the harder Blitz levels and in Crossfire, players must know and carry out their role. Uber Entertainment has done a good job balancing the classes so that they play according to their abilities and weaknesses. The assassin cannot simply hang back and play defense. Nor can the sniper rush into the opponent’s base with guns blazing.

Ill-advised: The Sniper rushing with an uzi.

MNC provides the opportunity to create a custom class, but this happens to be the game’s main failing. For one, it takes a while to unlock the first custom class slot. Doing so costs $15,000, and that money doesn’t come easily – and the customisation options are sparse. Players may choose one of the six stock classes, then assign that class three different buffers—stronger armour, better speed, more ammo, etc. That’s it. Granted, the potential combinations are interesting. An assassin (fast but frail) with enhanced armor and greater health could be a significant threat. But these days multiplayer customisation requires more.

MNC manages to deliver a great deal of fun and value with a unique spin on some old genres. Of the games offered in “Summer of Arcade,” it may have the most replay value. And if Uber provides it the right support, they could have a long-term success on their hands.


4/5

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Written by MarkP

I am a 32 year-old father of three--twin boys age 6 and a one-year-old baby girl. Gaming is a fundamental part of our family life. We game together. We talk about games together. We shop for games together. But we also each like different things. My preference is for shooters, action games, and RPGs. I have a degree in English. When I'm not playing games, I'm reading or writing.

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