by Chris Priestman
reviewed on X360
There are only two core game modes in Monday Night Combat which may seem small but the time and effort spent to make them fun and playable is palpable. Blitz can be played locally or over Xbox Live and has the player defending the Money Ball at the centre of the arena from waves of robots that spawn from various locations at the arena’s edge. The number and type of robots that hurl themselves at you vary depending on the chosen sub-mode, changing the game’s difficulty to somewhere between being tough to ‘you are destined to fail’. Due to the teamwork required in the harder modes, Blitz is amongst the best co-op experiences to be found on Xbox Live Arcade.
The other mode is called Crossfire and is not too distant from the core gameplay of Blitz except that it pits two teams against each other over Xbox Live. The arenas are bigger and come with two Money Balls rather than one, two tiers for strategic approaches and a bottomless pit to avoid. Each team has to defend their ball from the other to win the match and teams have to escort a bunch of robots to the opposing Money Ball in order to destroy it. Having to make constant choices during a match such as whether to engage a human opponent, place a turret or destroy enemy bots makes the game more about choices rather than how well you can pull off a headshot. This is further strengthened by how the game matches players: it will automatically try to match you with players of a similar skill to keep it fun for everyone.
Playing either mode, players will earn points that can be spent on items and abilities that will carry over from game to game. The best example of this is being able to enhance your favourite class in a very similar fashion to Call of Duty. Players can create custom classes which can be unlocked for a fee and jump into the arena with perks such as increased rate of fire, health recovery, extra armor, critical shots, and many more. While cool, none of these perks are strong enough to unhinge the game’s balance.
Like in Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer, players can unlock unique banners called ProTags by completing in-game challenges. The tag can then be bought and worn as part of a player’s identity and to show off a particular action they have performed in-game. Although there is nothing to make a player stand out beyond this, it still adds a nice touch.
The Sport Of The Future
In many ways, Monday Night Combat feels like a well-tuned fan-made mod. It may lack the content of a full retail game but what you do get is a superb multiplayer experience that surpasses some of those major retail titles. The game’s quality doesn’t come from its selection of game modes or maps, but in its finely balanced classes and tower defence based tactics. Blending two popular and quite distinct genres as Monday Night Combat does is certainly not an easy feat. Somehow the genre influences visible in the game both stand out and operate as they normally would, but cross over in an almost perfect way to provide a unique experience. The satirical outlook on today’s commercial sport gives the game a distinct tongue-in-cheek personality, even if the in-game characters lack personality themselves.
My one issue with the game is that games in Crossfire mode are all too often decided within its first minute of play due to defending being easier than scoring. The team that scores first has an obvious advantage. Despite this, Monday Night Combat is still a great game. It is casual and competitive gaming combined in a superb team sport shooter that guarantees hours of fun. Worth checking out if you are a fan of online shooters or tactical games and an absolute must if you like both.
Tight and well-designed game modes, fresh classes, easy and fun to play with friends.
Lacks diversity in maps and game modes, can get a little repetitive after a while.