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Monday Night Combat Review
Monday Night Combat is a squad-based third-person shooter set in a future where the sport of choice is bloodthirsty arena combat between teams of artificially cloned soldiers. Each team is tasked with both defending their own moneyball and assaulting the enemy squad's moneyball. There are lasers, rocket turrets, invisible robots, jetpacks, and all manner of chaotic weaponry available to help achieve these goals, guaranteeing a crowd-pleasing good time.
Monday Night Combat was created by a small developer called Uber Entertainment. It is an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive title, and available for 1,200 Microsoft points, or roughly $15 USD. Is this downloadable title worth your hard-earned cash? Read on to find out in our Monday Night Combat review.
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There are two game modes in Monday Night Combat: Blitz and Crossfire. Blitz can be played either single or multiplayer, and is essentially a glorified tower defense mode. Blitz features one team of human-controlled characters against swarms of A.I. robots who march to converge on your moneyball. You must work together to bolster your moneyball's defenses by combining your skills and building automated towers. When flying solo you do not have the advantage of teammates and must rely heavily on constructing towers to resist the robotic onslaught, which is arguably less exciting or fulfilling than a team-based multiplayer victory. Also of note is that singleplayer Blitz is the only solo offering in the game; there is no campaign mode, only skirmishes against A.I. adversaries.
Crossfire pits two teams of six players each against each other with the ultimate goal of destroying the enemy team's moneyball. Doing so is not as simple as waltzing up and shooting it, however. Each team has A.I. robots that accompany them in battle; only by piercing your opponents' defenses and guiding your mechanical companions to the enemies' moneyball will the impenetrable shield around the moneyball drop. Once your robots have dropped the moneyball's shield it can be directly attacked by you and your teammates. While this offensive maneuver is your main objective, the other team will of course be assaulting your moneyball at the same time, so splitting your attention between offense and defense becomes a perilous and imperative balance.
There are six classes to choose from in Monday Night Combat: assault, sniper, support, tank, gunner and assassin. Each class has two different weapons, and a myriad of unique abilities. For example, the assault class can switch between either a machine gun or grenade launcher, and has the ability to hurl an area-of-effect bomb or charge into an enemy. The support class can heal teammates, snipers focus on ranged attacks, etc. Each class has a specific expertise, and combining your skills with those of the other members of your squad is paramount to an effective offensive or defensive strategy.
Defeating enemies will net you cash rewards, which can be used to upgrade your abilities. Periodically, the Monday Night Combat mascot, Bullseye, will make an appearance, and shooting him will garner a huge influx of cash. Money can also be used to build and upgrade defensive towers; these come in many flavors, such as rocket turrets, freeze rays, and laser cannons.
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Controlling Monday Night Combat is familiar and intuitive, especially if you've played other Xbox 360 shooters. Right trigger shoots, and left trigger brings up precision aiming. Right bumper is reload, and left bumper cycles between your two weapons. Hitting A once makes your character jump, and hitting it again activates your jetpack which allows you to hover for a few seconds. X, Y, and B activate your class abilities, and pressing up on the D-pad brings up the character upgrade menu. The onscreen interface is mostly focused on the lower right-hand corner; this box displays your ammo, the cooldown timers for your class skills, and the amount of money you've accumulated so far. The bar in the left-hand corner indicates your moneyball's remaining health.
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Graphics and Sound
Monday Night Combat's visual style is highly reminiscent of Valve's Team Fortress 2. Characters are lively and cartoonish, and the robots and arenas you fight them in are colorful and vivid. While the art direction is very striking, there are some rough spots. When there are large armies of robot combatants onscreen at once, the frame rate takes a sizable dive. Textures occasionally load slowly, though once the round starts this typically resolves itself.
There isn't much music in the game to speak of, but what little is there is traditional arena rock anthem fare. Voice acting is also limited, though the voice of the announcer is decently performed and despite some repetition isn't too grating. Given that this is multiplayer-focused and not a storyline driven title, the omission of additional voice acting and musical score isn't that surprising.
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As with any multiplayer-centric title, Monday Night Combat's longevity will be determined by how much entertainment you glean from it. While joining up with friends to battle A.I. and humans alike is a lot of fun, there are only two game modes and minimal variety of arenas. Perhaps this will be expanded in future DLC, but the base package is a tad sparse. Anyone considering purchasing this game for the strictly solo aspect will find only a couple hours of gameplay here, as there is no campaign and only Blitz mode is playable alone.
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Monday Night Combat offers frenetic team-based combat with a primary focus on online multiplayer. At its core, it is a very satisfying and fun shooter, but it does suffer a bit when it comes to variety. The only two game modes available are Blitz and Crossfire, and the lack of game types may mean its welcome wears thin sooner than it should. It has a quirky, zany personality evident in its colorful presentation, and definitely stands out amongst the genres' other drab, reality-centric offerings. Hopefully our review of Monday Night Combat has made your purchase decision easier, and we look forward to joining you in the arena.