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Review: Monday Night Combat

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The Xbox Live Arcade is still an area that’s a bit hit and miss for me – games released on the platform are always on the opposite ends of the spectrum for me: a game can either be amazing (See: Battlefield 1943, Geometry Wars 2, and Scott Pilgrim vs The World). But at the same time I find that all too often I find myself regretting my non-refundable purchase just a few hours after buying (See: Splosion Man, The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, Tutles in Time: Reshelled, and even Shadow Complex).

This makes it incredibly hard for me to commit to purchasing an Arcade title these days, I’ve learned through the years of owning an Xbox 360 that quite often the demos for Arcade games often just leave you playing the best bits of the game. It’s with great relief then, that Monday Night Combat isn’t one of these regrettable purchases.

Released back in the Summer of 2010, Monday Night Combat is third person shooter meets tower defence meets Team Fortress 2 – which seems to have caused a great deal of unfounded controversy. Sure – it’s obvious that Monday Night Combat borrows its cartoony art style from Team Fortress 2 but that’s where most of the similarities end. Dismissing Monday Night Combat based on the art style would be a huge mistake to make.

Monday Night Combat pits two teams against each other: the Hotshots and the Icemen (essentially red vs blue) in some kind of futuristic bloodsport – I’d love to go in to more detail, but Monday Night Combat is strictly a multi player only affair without any single player. The objective of each game is simple: destroy the other teams money ball. To do this you’ll have to escort your bots over to the enemy base – as they’re the only ones that can destroy the money ball shields. Once they’ve done that you can let loose until it’s destroyed.

Bots spawn automatically every couple of seconds – or you can increase your number of bots by spawning some of your own. Each class in the game; Assaults, Assassins, Gunners, Snipers, Supports and Tanks each have their own special type of bots to spawn.  Of course you’ll need to defend your own base against enemy attacks too, so you can build turrets in certain areas to slow down the enemy attack.

This combination of fast paced combat and tower defence gives Monday Night Combat a unique style of gameplay over pretty much every other game available on Xbox Live. The classes are well balanced against each other and the levels are well designed. Everything in Monday Night Combat feels like a tight and refined multi player experience. The design of the maps can sometimes make spawn camping a problem, though this seems to be a rare occurrence (a well organised team attacking your money ball with often try to prevent you from leaving the spawn area).

It’s unfortunate that the high level of level and class refinements appears to have come at the cost of content – there’s only four maps (with an extra one available as free DLC) and there’s no single player part to Monday Night Combat – which is an even bigger shame than the lack of maps. All of that life and personality that’s in the trailers? Very little of that makes its way in to the actual game. Even just a few bot matches with some cinematics in between them all would have been a welcome addition. There’s a co-operative mode where you can fight off several waves of robots, but with only a single map to choose from the experience can get a little old.

Regardless of this Monday Night Combat is simply fun to play – even in matches when I’m losing I’m still enjoying myself, which is refreshing in a shooter, where losing often means that you’re subjected to several minutes of unbearable arse kickery. Monday Night Combat should be a definite buy for fans of competitive shooters – especially if you like Team Fortress 2.

What the game looks like

Monday Night Combat in action

The verdict

Good: Refined and well balanced gameplay, fun character personalities, unique blend of third person shooter and tower defence gameplay

Bad: No single player, lack of maps and game modes, spawn camping can be problematic at times

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Written by Pokeh

January 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm

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