MNC is not Team Fortress 2.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the obligatory disclaimer required for any discussion of the game, as there are some particularly rabid fanboys who have latched onto the cartoonish art style and class gameplay like an alien facehugger to a human skull.

Monday Night Combat is the sport of the future, one that sidesteps the philosophical, moral, and legal implications of paying people to enter an arena and shoot each other in the face by simply using wave after wave of clones instead of actual human beings. Each class has a role to play in the team, and unlike most games to experiment with class based gameplay, a team with a poor balance of classes will be crushed in a game of Crossfire (a breakdown of each will follow the review). The rules of Monday Night Combat are simple: Protect your money ball. Kills mean nothing more than money in your character's pocket, which can be spent in a match to build or upgrade turrets, activate traps, buy juice (no, really), and upgrade character abilities. Those abilities are reset at the end of each match, but thankfully, not when you change classes during a match. Nor do they transfer: the class you change to will be at the default level 1 for all abilities. Your cash on hand however, does transfer, and you can use the money to upgrade the new class. Luckily, so long as you stay in the match, the previously upgraded class will also keep their upgrades until the match ends. You can also use your spoils of Combat to create eliminator bots unique to each class, most of which will attack enemy players rather than making a predictable march for the other team's money ball.

Outside of the arena, your lifetime earnings can be used to purchase pro tags, unlock custom class slots that allow you to tweak the default classes to your liking (a major benefit in some cases, as no visible change shows up in terms of character appearance, allowing you to surprise the enemy with your new perks). You may want to give a speed boost to the Gunner, or a faster rate of fire for the Sniper.

Blitz is a grind, but can definitely be considered as a training session of sorts, not just a Survival gametype. It allows players to experiment with turret placement, selection, and upgrades to best defend the money ball, a skill vital to success in Crossfire. And you do make money in Blitz just like in the Crossfire gametype, which is also why it shouldn't be written off as "just practice."

In Crossfire, yes, the arenas do look to share the same art style and design. That's because for all intents and purposes, they do. They're arenas in a futuristic sporting league, it would make sense for a similar theme to be present in all of them. It's how it is in the real world, too (most football fields look alike, why would these arenas be any different?). Some maps are larger than others, though, and it's up to the player to choose tactics (and turrets!) to fit each one.

The biggest drawback to Monday Night Combat isn't four maps and only two gametypes, however. It's that it does it's job too well: It's a team sport, and as such, each team is only as strong as its weakest link. If no one is willing to play a class the team needs just because they won't get many kills (this happens far too often with the engineer or sniper), the team is in serious danger of losing. It may put up a valiant fight, but nine times out of ten it will ultimately fall. Support is useful, but a team of nothing but Support players will be annihilated just like any other. It's all about balance. And team balance: if one player quits during a match, it's often a serious blow to those who stayed behind, as the game doesn't let up on the pressure just because one team suddenly has an open spot in the lineup.

Overall, the game comes together well, and will likely provide several hours of fun for most fans of team shooters. Some might find the lack of a Team Deathmatch or Free-For-All gametype somewhat annoying, but really, with so many different games already using those gametypes, why make another? Monday Night Combat is the best at what it does, and what it does is really hard to properly summarize. Nine out of Ten. And as promised, a breakdown of the classes:

The Sniper works as a valuable tool to eliminate advancing enemy Gunners and Tanks, whose incredible firepower and armor come at the cost of greatly reduced movement speed. He can also use his flak grenade for crowd control, and when fully leveled up, there are few things it can't destroy or, at the least, seriously damage. The SMG provides some protection if anyone gets in close, and the grapple (when upgraded) can definitely save a sniper's hide from just about any threat, or at least put distance between the two players.

The Support class is vital to the team. He provides the only way to repair a turret short of upgrading it to the next stage (of which there are only three). He can also hack turrets to improve their range and rate of fire, even hack enemy turrets to become friendly and attack the other team (even the money ball!). He has his own sentry turret he can deploy, and when properly maintained and deployed, the turret and the Support can act as a nigh impenetrable wall to force the enemy team to choose another path or devote more resources to breaking through. He can also call in air strikes, which are devastating to enemy bots, turrets, and players alike. In fact, tagging an enemy player with the beacon is more often than not a guaranteed kill (obviously the shell can't go through a bridge to hit someone under it, and juiced players have a major health boost).

The Assassin class is both difficult to master, and more or less universally despised. Her main method of killing is to get in close and grapple kill her opponent, or cut them down to size with the sword or dagger (level 3 passive upgrade switches the dagger to a sword). Her only other method of dealing damage is with a shuriken launcher which, while fairly powerful, is much easier to dodge than conventional firearms due to the slower movement speed of the projectiles. As a result, her options are limited. She is best used as what her name implies: an assassin. Cloak, quickly move behind enemy lines, and take out vital players impeding your team's advance, and try to escape just as quickly. Her low health and almost nonexistent armor means her ability to absorb damage is greatly reduced, which is why it's best not to try and engage in a prolonged fight, especially with more than one enemy player. When used properly however, she is a valuable tool: Many players have a habit of focusing on the Assassin as soon as her presence is detected, both out of a desire for an easy kill, and also because leaving her alone is detrimental to one's health.

The Assault is arguably the most balanced class in the game. He has a grenade launcher for hard targets and an assault rifle for lightly armored enemies, as well as remote detonated mines (which deal boosted damage if they attach directly to an enemy player or bot), a charge attack that can become an extremely useful grapple when fully upgraded, and a jetpack to help him avoid ring outs and grapple kills from assassins. The most versatile of any class, though don't expect to be a one-man army.

The Gunner: Expect to be a one-man army. Heavily armored and with all the firepower you'd expect from a mortar launcher and minigun, the Gunner is best used for one of two things: bashing through the enemy's defenses with superior firepower, or cutting down enemy attackers with superior firepower. An upgrade to level 3 for his passive skill gives him dual miniguns, doubling the amount of lead sent downrange and making it all but impossible to kill him with a frontal assault (this is where snipers and assassins come in, or other, equally upgraded gunners). He has his own grapple attack for close quarters fighting, plus a ground slam ability that knocks back adversaries in range as well as temporarily stuns them, slowing their movement speed. This is the most useful defense he has against assassins, as they cannot move fast enough to get behind cover after they've been stunned, and are easily mowed down by the minigun. The gunner can also become his own turret, and gaining a recovery and ammo boost when the skill is fully upgraded.

The Tank is similar to the gunner, though has slightly more armor by default, and is better suited to close range attacks and a defensive role. His jet engine is one of the strongest weapons in the game, though it has a reduced range to compensate for this. He can also switch to a railgun for long range attacks, though there is no scope, so get rid of any thoughts you might have of using him as a sort of super-sniper. A rocket-assisted charge is also a useful skill for clearing a path for advancing forces, as well as quickly escaping from assassins who've managed to get just a little too close. He can also use the same sort of emplacement skill used by the Gunner, with the same boosts to armor and ammunition.