Review

Monday Night Combat Review (Xbox360)

Monday Night Combat treads a dangerous path in being an almost entirely multiplayer affair released on Xbox Live Arcade, therefore putting itself up against the juggernauts of online favourites like Halo, Call of Duty and Gears of War, but the value you get in this package coupled with the marketing push that comes with being a part of the Summer of Arcade may give it the push it needs to become immensely popular.

My first match in Monday Night Combat left me drawing the obvious comparison to Team Fortress 2. It features the familiar Red and Blue teams and cartoony art style that leads to very well-defined character classes.

You battle it out in massive sports arenas

It’s a class based shooter at its core, and like Team Fortress, you’ll be able to tell what type of character you’re facing off against based on their distant silhouettes alone – a vitally important design choice.

All of this is coloured with the fun idea that this is all based around a futuristic, made-for-TV sport – that takes place on Monday Night, thus the name. The teams battle it out to the death for the enjoyment of the audience, and this allows for some fun, gameshow-styled game modes – but more on that later.

There’s one obvious part of this game that has no similarity to Team Fortress, and that’s the tower defence stuff. While the engineer in TF2 can build turrets and whatnot, every map in Monday Night Combat is littered with points where anybody on your team can build a turret regardless of class.

Turrets cost money to build, and money is earned by killing your enemies through either conventional means or by having a turret you build take them down. Turrets fill the traditional tower defence tropes, including rockets, lasers and of course freeze rays that slow the enemy down. Turrets can be upgraded to higher levels of performance with cash and you can also improve your own battle performance by spending on upgrades – and again, careful management of how you upgrade yourself and your turrets will help lead you to victory.

With only a few players to a match, though, what’s the point in a ton of towers? Well, that’s where Monday Night Combat deviates even further – robots. Each team has an unlimited supply of AI-controlled robots that will march towards the enemy base from yours and try to assist you in completing your objective – which is to attack the ‘moneyball’ in the middle of the enemy base ‘til it explodes.

The money ball gets damaged by Red team robots

While it’s relatively easy for a human player to take down a turret, the robots struggle, so managing and protecting your own robots and building turrets to stop the enemy robots is vital. Cash can also be poured into the robot spawn points to make them spawn faster when all you want to do is overwhelm the enemy.

What you get with this mixture of elements is an extremely satisfying experience. The classes function great, with each role – the Assault, tank, gunner, assassin, support and sniper – filling its function perfectly. Each class has a couple of weapons and some special abilities that only they can use, and weapons and abilities improve as you upgrade them.

As well as the basic multiplayer experience there’s also ‘Blitz’ mode, which basically lets you pick a class and go up against increasing numbers of robots in waves – it’s literally a third person tower defence game where you double up as a unit, and a fun single-player distraction for a while, but also limited.

Like many team-based multiplayer shooters, the experience I had varied greatly depending on the team I had around me. Playing with disorganized people I found the game frustrating and difficult, but when I got a match with a decent team I fell in love with the depth on offer and the number of options you have at any given time.

It’s a game that is based so heavily on teamwork that your enjoyment is going to be dictated hugely by the people you play with, but if you like a team-based shooter that actually requires you to work in a team and think about your classes and use of resources, this is one of the best ones out there on consoles.

The art style is well defined and pretty

Monday Night Combat isn’t without issues – in general, the game seems to struggle with performance in places. There were numerous occasions where a match would get hectic with players, robots and explosions and projectiles everywhere, and the game would quickly slow to a crawl, the framerate choking on the amount going on. It’s a shame, as such chaos is kind of inherent to the design of the gameplay in Monday Night Combat.

It’s also an extremely limited game in general – with just a handful of modes and maps, the amount you can do on the battlefield itself clearly had a price in other areas of the game. That said, you have to remember the price – and for 1200 Microsoft Points – fifteen dollars or a tenner to you brits – it’s a bargain experience.

Get yourself a good team, and you’re in for a lot of fun.

Best Moment: Pumping all my cash into robots at the end of a particularly hard game and watching them overwhelm the other team!

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Comments

By bosnian_dragon (SI Core) on Aug 21, 2010
bosnian_dragon
Team Fortress 2 is great, and this looks exactly like it.
By slaythat (SI Veteran Member) on Aug 21, 2010
slaythat
Looks fun, but who thought of the name. Really would you call a game 'Monday Night Combat?'
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 21, 2010
Wowerine
Looks interesting. But is it really a TF2 rip off? I hope not cause that would mean I wont play it. :)
By stuntkid (SI Elite) on Aug 22, 2010
stuntkid
It looks similar to TF2. Possibly had some inspiration
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 22, 2010
Wowerine
Yeah. I see blue and red teams there. Possibly just a coincidence. :)
By RaviL (SI Core Member) on Aug 23, 2010
RaviL
Yea it reminds me of TF2 a lot, but as Wowerine said: "Possibly just a coincidence".