Hey Everybody, it's Monday Night Combat's Loveable Mascot, Bullseye! Kill Him. Kill Him Now!
HIGH As Captain Spark, leaping in at the last minute and preventing an enemy player from using the annihilator.
LOW Trying to play as the Gunslinger and being mostly useless.
WTF Staring in awe at the people that have figured out how to dominate everyone with Leo.
There's an enemy Support and Megabeth on the annihilator. They've got about half the gauge taken down, and they just finished off my Tank. Racing as fast as I can, I take the jump pads up and at the last possible second I use megahurtz, blinding both of them. Those few seconds are enough for me to get the Support off the button and for our Gunner to come up and slam them away. The tide turns in my favor!
...Okay, I know that probably sounds like gibberish to those who aren't famliar with Super Monday Night Combat, but the ability to understand exactly what I'm talking about couldn't be easier to attain—and trust me, you want it.
The original Monday Night Combat was an odd beast. On the surface it looked like a Team Fortress 2 clone, but it felt a lot more like Ratchet & Clank than any first-person shooter. It was a game that seemed tailor-made for the PC and Steam, but after an initial released on Xbox Live, it just never seemed to find a comfortable spot in the online gaming sphere. It was like a duck trying to hang out with a group of badgers—it just didn't fit in.
Now with Super Monday Night Combat, Uber Entertainment has clearly found its flock. Much more at home on the PC and focused on its unique third-person shooter/RTS gameplay, Super Monday Night Combat has carved out a very special niche of its own.
Like the original, Super Monday Night Combat is a hybrid between Team Fortress 2, League of Legends, and Ratchet & Clank. The game consists of a futuristic sport in which two teams of combatants must battle to destroy the other team's moneyball, a glowing sphere filled with cash and prizes. However, in order to get to the moneyball, each team must help their team's army of robots, as only the robots can bring down the moneyball's shields.
It's in the bot-escorting that Super Monday Night Combat bears the greatest resemblance to League of Legends or other action real-time strategy games in general. While the player doesn't control the bots directly, he is responsible for supporting them and keeping them alive long enough to reach the moneyball, be it through direct support or protecting them from the other team. Trying to play it like Halo and throwing oneself headlong into battle will result in dismal failure, even though some of the classes are specifically designed for killing other players.
The classes, or "pros" as the game calls them, are divided into distinct groups based on their intended role. Defenders hold positions and repel enemies, strikers are fast high-damage attackers, enforcers act as tanks and clear paths for their bots, commandos can get in behind enemy lines and get quick kills on other players, and sharpshooters specialize in attacking from a distance.
The different classes balance out well for the most part. Learning how to leverage one's strengths in order to help the bots push towards the moneyball is the very heart of the game, resulting is a strong role-playing aspect.
However, if there is a balance criticism to be made it's that the maps are not friendly towards the sharpshooter classes, making them extremely weak in combat. Most available vantage points are rife with neutral bots that attack on sight, and trying to snipe in the middle of a firefight is extremely difficult. On top of that, the sharpshooter weapons (especially the Gunslinger's) just don't seem to do enough damage to be useful. While I understand some types are meant to be harder to play than others, the sharpshooters seem to be at a particular disadvantage.
Despite those minor balancing issues, Super Monday Night Combat is actually very inviting to newcomers, as I not so subtly indicated at the beginning of this review. The game is free to play and there's an open training mode where the moves of each class can be practiced for as long as is desired. In fact, free players are at no disadvantage at all when it comes to playing against people that have actually spent money, which a wonderful change from something like Battlefield 3 where new players who haven't unlocked better weapons are often at an unfair disadvantage. Being newbie-friendly is a clear necessity for the free-to-play model, and Super Monday Night Combat is as welcoming as any online game possibly could be.
In terms of production, the aesthetics of Super Monday Night Combat feel much more crisp than its predecessor. In Monday Night Combat, every level played in a futuristic stadium setting. While there are still maps like Downtown Spunky that carry over the art style from the original game, settings now range from the old West-y feeling of Bullet Gorge to the dense jungle of Loco Moco. The layout of bot lanes and hazard locations is much more varied as well. The lack of level diversity was a major reason I never put significant hours into Monday Night Combat, but that has been more than addressed here.
In a nutshell, Uber Entertainment clearly figured out what their first game needed and they brought it. The shortcomings from the first game have been dealt with, and even now they're still piling on constant updates with a Valve-like intensity. With a very dedicated and growing community of players, Super Monday Night Combat has blossomed into a legitimate heavyweight among its peers.
Disclosures: This game was obtained via free to play Steam download (though I did receive in-game credit from the publisher) and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 10 hours of play was devoted to multiplayer modes. There are no single-player modes.
Parents: At the time of this writing, this game has not been rated by the ESRB, however the original game received a T rating, and I would consider this game to be roughly the same. There's nothing that I would be uncomfortable letting a teenager play, but as always the greater internet population is a concern.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You should be fine. While spoken lines aren't subtitled, they aren't a major factor in gameplay and there are no significant audio cues.