Monday Night Combat is a wonderfully entertaining mix of player vs player, third-person shooter with tower-defence mechanics set in a futuristic combat game show. Think The Running Man X Wipeout (or It’s a Knockout if you’re an older reader) and you have some idea. Visually, Monday Night Combat looks very similar to Team Fortress 2, with vibrant colours and cartoonish characters. It looks awesome.
After a brief (and compulsory) tutorial section, in which you are introduced to the game rules and basic controls, you are thrust into the game. The tutor is also the game commentator and is a totally hilarious, over the top, NFL type announcer. If you liked the commentators from DodgeBall, you’ll love this guy. You are also introduced to your pit crew of one, a feisty cheerleader / mechanic. A word of warning, if you want to avoid a nasty scowl from your number one fan, don’t lose a match. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.
You can forget about any story. There is no linear narrative or overarching drama here. All you need to know is that it’s the future, and you play a fighter in a violent sports / game show for the entertainment of the masses. You will die often, but that’s okay. You’re only a clone and instantly respawn. Its helps if you don’t dwell too much on the morality of the situation……
There are two game modes – Blitz and Crossfire. Blitz can be played solo or co-op online and pits your chosen combatant, plus a bunch of hastily constructed turrets, against waves of enemy bots, as they single-mindedly attempt to destroy your Moneyball, a large golden sphere of cash. You can choose the number of waves before the match and there is a decent variety of robots to destroy, ranging from the little invisible ‘Gremlins’ to the big daddy of them all, the ‘Jack Bot’, with eight types in total. Hopefully a future update will add some additional enemy types to the mix, like a traditional character type bot that acts like a player. That would be cool. Blitz is a good starting point and really helps you get a grip on the controls, as well as the idea of gaining money to level up your abilities and activate turrets to defend the ‘Moneyball’.
However, it is the second game type, Crossfire, that brings Monday Night Combat to life. Up to twelve players online, split into two teams of six (better dead than Red!), battle it out in an arena against each other and enemy bots. Using team tactics it is up to each player to escort their own bots to the enemy, as well as defend their own Moneyball. Just like in Blitz, you can protect the Moneyball by establishing turrets around several pre-positioned locations as well as using your l33t combat skills to kill the enemy players.
Monday Night Combat mascot Bullseye provides another opportunity to make money. As he dances around the arena, you can shoot or attack him to force a trail of cash and other bonuses to appear out of him. Its seriously twisted and a lot of fun.
Before each game begins, you can choose one of six characters – Sniper, Support (medic), Gunner, Assault, Assassin and Tank, all of whom are finely balanced and offer a completely different style of gameplay. The Assassin seems to be the most popular, but the Support is swiftly gaining. There’s also an option you can unlock to create custom classes, allowing you to choose between a variety of cool perks.
The net code has obviously been given a lot of attention. I never had a problem with connection, and rarely had to wait long for a matchup. I would say it rivals the much larger budgeted Street Fighter 4. Monday Night Combat is obviously popular and deservedly so. As far as multiplayer games on the Xbox Live Arcade are concerned, they don’t come much better than this. Uber Entertainment have given us gold. Do yourself a favour and download it. You won’t be disappointed.