Hands-On Impressions: Monday Night Combat (XBLA)
Last month, while walking around the show floor of PAX, we noticed a rather considerable crowd drawn around the booth for Monday Night Combat. Whether it was the booth’s giant speakers (or the “enigmatic” announcer on hand) it was apparent that something LOUD was taking place for the upcoming XBLA game. We hopped in for a closer look and found what may be the next cult, fun multiplayer game for Live.
Monday Night Combat, developed by Uber Entertainment, is a “future combat sport”. Much like the classic Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball, that means that the athletics of the future must surely involve a combination of human/robot violence. In the case of MNC that takes place with weapons, turrets, and melee attacks as players aim to capture the opposing team’s Money Ball.
The mode we played, Crossfire, involved 6-on-6 team action. Each team had what seemed like an unlimited number of bots to command. These bots were pushed into the Money Ball, intent on breaking down its barriers so that our team could reap the benefits of the cash: upgrades to weapons, turrets, and our base. The six players per team aligned to the six classes, yet the developers assured us that another multiplayer mode, Co-Op Blitz, would be available when the game launches.
I chose to play as Tank, the character filling the powerhouse roll of the game. Big on power, short on technique. That was okay, though, as the shear number of things happening at once in the playable arena didn’t require me to have to evade attacks as much as it let me work with the bots or run around the arena collecting bonuses.
The visuals reminded me of Team Fortress, but that wasn’t anything to worry about. Being an XBLA game, the amount of detail that can be placed on the characters and visuals is dependent on the file size, so the devs opted to go with the super-deformed look to help keep that down. Besides, with so many FPS games and shooters aiming for gritty realism it is refreshing to see one that is a little more colorful and light-hearted.
The bright(er) visuals helped, as the arenas were a good enough size to get lost in. The character designs made it easier to spot enemies, even with several bots running around the screen. Though shooting is key, the game’s grapple moves are invaluable, executed within canned animations. The face buttons allowed for 1 of 3 special skills to take place, providing a good amount of depth to the way that the combat took place. It wasn’t just about shooting, it was about an entire battle taking place at different levels with different stakes.
While there will not be a “season” mode in this future sports league, the game does keep track of a massive amount of stats. From ring-outs to types and speed of kills, the stats earn displayable “Pro Tags.” These tags, which are similar to mini- achievements, are worn proudly on the characters and allowed us to show off what kinds of kills we’ve achieved.
For someone like me who isn’t a stellar mutliplayer online gamer, Monday Night Combat seemed like an extremely fun and accessible experience. When the game releases later this year, the hectic combat just may pull some players away from some of the AAA games that are being released. Promising, fun, and deep. A perfect combination for any game, not just XBLA.
Images courtesy Uber Entertainment