Monday Night Combat
Thanks to the replayability of online games, multiplayer-oriented downloadable titles are an enticing proposition for value-minded players – but even the most addictive formulas need enough base content to keep them entertaining. Monday Night Combat’s mix of tower defense strategy and third-person shooter action is an addictive new approach to multiplayer gaming. However, with just two basic modes and a handful of similar-looking maps, it’s only a matter of time until the player is left wanting more variety.
The first of Monday Night Combat’s two basic modes is Blitz, which can be played alone or co-operatively with up to three other players. The goal of Blitz is to defend your Moneyball (a giant glowing orb reminiscent of the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball) from waves of attacking robots. If that sounds a lot like the typical Horde mode, it is. However, the game’s six classes accommodate a wider variety of play styles, and each features unique abilities that you can upgrade with credits earned during the match, similar to Counter-Strike. While I mostly stuck with MNC’s Assault class, the Assassin’s cloaking ability proved invaluable against some of the larger bots, and each character’s skill set is unique enough to encourage experimenting with different combinations on your team.
The game's six classes provide a good amount of gameplay variety
You can also build and upgrade automated turrets at designated locations throughout the map, adding some much-needed strategy to the action-heavy gameplay. Unfortunately, these extra layers are rarely needed for the dim-witted robots you and your friends will face, and even when your team is performing like a well-oiled machine, Blitz can feel like a grind.
Luckily, the PvP Crossfire mode is a lot more engaging. This mode pits two teams of six players against each other, tasking them with simultaneously assaulting the opponent’s Moneyball and defending their own. Turrets and bots are still part of the gameplay (you now spawn the bots on your side of the map and must escort them into the enemy’s area), and have a greater impact on the outcome of matches. The game becomes a lot more exciting playing against human opponents. Although I died a lot, none of the classes felt overpowered, and I never felt like I had been cheated.
This guy is so annoying that it's impossible not to smile while shooting him
The gameplay is a lot less realistic than most shooters, with exaggerated (albeit T-rated) kill animations and fantasy weapon design, but MNC’s shooting mechanics are still as solid as most triple-A third-person shooters on the market. The ability to create custom classes and choose your own endorsements (MNC’s equivalent of perks) is an appreciated bonus that will help keep players engaged as the novelty of the two modes begins to wear off.
While there is plenty of variety in the game’s characters and strategy, the lack of additional modes remains MNC’s Achilles’ heel. Crossfire features just four multiplayer maps, all of which feel similar to one another and share an almost identical art style. The game’s numerous ProTags (like MW 2’s Callsigns) and detailed stats give extra reason to keep playing, but I was still left yearning for different goals besides attacking and defending Moneyballs (and shooting MNC’s amusingly annoying mascot). That said, with a price tag of $15, fans of the genre shouldn’t have a problem getting their money’s worth from this competent shooter.