One of XBLA's best.
Typically when we think about multiplayer games the obligatory Call of Duty, Halo, and Battlefield come to mind. It was a shock to me that a $15 arcade game can not only pack a incredible amount of value but be a serious contender for your competitive play time. Monday Night Combat is a well-constructed shooter all around that proves downloadable console games can compete with the big boys. This game is a total blast that will easily keep you entertained enough to warrant its price tag.
First off, I'm a sucker for fictitious future-combat sports. Monday Night Combat delivers on the kill-sport setting but does it in a humorous Team Fortress 2-style fashion. You'll have a choice of six classes. It's weird Monday Night Combat's multiplayer tactics rely little on class balancing compared to other games with similar structure. Yes, it's nice to have a Tank in the front and an Assassin sneak past enemy lines picking off foes. However, so long as you have one support in the rear repairing your base's assets you should be fine.
The competitive mode, Crossfire, is set up like a tower defense game. A lot of people compare this game to Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), but I've never played that mod. Bots come out of each team's base and follow a set path to the opposing player's Money Ball. The bots are in charge of depleting the Money Ball's shields, and it's up to you and your team mates to destroy the ball itself. The game revolves around you escorting your robots across the map and eliminating enemy towers and other robots and human player on the other team. It's very common that if both teams have any idea what's going on that a lot of matches have stalemates, with all the action happening in the middle with neither team making any real progress, forcing overtime. In overtime, both teams become overpowered with big-ass super robots.
The other mode, Blitz, can also be boiled down to tower defense. Instead of six on six, games consist of four human players defending their money ball against waves of enemy robots.The separate modes of difficulty are all insane. With the endless amount of foes on screen, Blitz makes Monday Night Combat's main issue standout, the frame rate. Crossfire is fairly stable but when you're deep in a game of Blitz it's common for the frame rate to dip to unplayable levels. It's not enough to kill this very fun mode in the game, but happens frequently enough to be an annoyance. Blitz also only offers one map, that's a bummer.
The most unique aspect about Monday Night Combat is the upgrade system. Every negative action you do to the opposing team awards you money. You will utilize this money to upgrade your skills and weapons in the game, but you also have to be building turrets that fire motors, lasers, and rockets. Finding the perfect middle ground of upgrading yourself and your base is key. For without strong attributes in both, you will surly lose a lot of games. Communicating with your team in both Blitz and Crossfire about what turret needs to be upgraded and where turrets need to be built is the secret to success. The upgrade system totally works and is a perfect middle ground of providing the player with enough tactical options while being self explanatory.
Monday Night Combat is a game that's fun and unique in every way. It's one of the best games in the XBLA library and will surly be an item in the “can downloadable console games hold online dominance?” argument. This game probably wont stray people away from Modern Warfare 2, but will provide those players with a nice short-term alternative and give players like me a exciting, engaging, and strategic multiplayer experience that's hard to match especially for the price of admission. More modes are apparently on the way which makes me excited for what's to come. If you like team-based multiplayer, have a tolerance for annoying game announcers repeating dialog, and wished tower defense games were a bit more hands-on then look no further than Monday Night Combat, the most violent sport, ever.