Imagine the class-based, team-oriented play of Valve’s Team Fortress 2 and then mix it with the escalating play of tower defense, campy sports entertainment aesthetic, the competitive game show qualities of Smash TV and you’ve got yourself Monday Night Combat.
The game has two modes – Crossfire and Blitz. Crossfire is the competitive multiplayer in which each team is backed up by a respawning army of bots. They have to escort these bots to the enemy’s Moneyball to deplete its shields and thus win the game. Blitz is a co-op mode in which players protect their Moneyball from increasingly powerful waves of AI-spawned bots. There are a variety of different Blitz modes, ranging in number of waves and difficulty, but the general “tower defense meets Team Fortress” play style remains the same throughout.
Players can also construct turrets at specified locations to protect their own base. Money is earned with kills, and the cash not only goes towards turrets and their upgrades, but also can be spent on personal player enhancements. Deciding which of your skills to enhance, or whether to hold off on skills and create turrets, makes for some interesting choices.
There are six distinct classes – the balanced Assault, the hardy Tank, the stealthy Assassin, the powerful Gunner, the ranged Sniper and the medic-engineer hybrid Support. Each class has a distinct look and feel with a range of unique abilities, such as the Tank’s product placement grenades or the Assassin’s invisibility. Unlike Team Fortress 2, each class is able to hold their own – even characters like Support who primarily rely on turrets and accompanying bots to attack. Teamwork is still an important aspect of the game however since turrets especially need to be maintained in order for your team to win matches.
Although each class can play independent, they each suffer from balance issues as well. For instance, the Gunner is ludicrously powerful and has no real down side to counter his strength, while the Tank is useless in ranged combat. Probably the most broken character, however, has to be the Support who can improve turrets, heal teammates, call in air strikes and deploy a mini-turret of his own. The Support class will most definitely come in handy, but it practically employs two classes in one.
The game also lacks variety. Blitz mode has one map, and Crossfire only a meager handful. It’s a shame considering multiplayer plays such a large role in the game. Not that Monday Night Combat gets boring or repetitive, quite the opposite actually, but better variety probably would have added to this terribly addictive game.
Those addictive qualities quickly become the highlight of Monday Night Combat. It requires you to get used to its shortcomings, to work around its flaws and find a class that works for you. And once you do, you’ll never want to go back. As you earn cash by winning matches, you can unlock custom character slots, which lets you enhance your class’ stats. Unlocking this, which will require a meager amount of cash, makes gameplay that much more fun and entertaining.
Monday Night Combat has its flaws, but ultimately provides a fun, unique and undeniably addictive multiplayer experience – it’s pretty damned satisfying to set off an ejector and watch half of the opposing team fall to its death. There is a class to fit every style of play, but by incorporating custom character slots these common archetypes become even more enjoyable to play as. Monday Night Combat may not be perfect but it certainly brings innovative new ideas to the table.