Monday Night Combat is a third-person team-based shooter created by Uber Entertainment, previously released on Xbox Live Marketplace. Being a straight up console-to-PC port job, many believed that the transition would be harsh, but Uber has made sure those fears would be put to rest. Everything just comes together so well, making this an easy game to recommend. Gameplay is very interesting, combining a team-based attack/defense game with a slight strategy element. Each team is given computer-controlled robots that must first be escorted into the other team’s base before they are able to tackle their objective. This adds an interesting layer of complexity to the team-based shooter mechanic, without making it too complex to the pedestrian player. The game is very well optimized and balanced to adjust to some of the skills, weapons, and abilities for the difference in control scheme. The classes are varied enough to give them each very specific roles, while still making sure to avoid redundancy. For example, there’s Sniper, the high-health close-range powerhouse Tank, in addition to the team-healing and robot-upgrading Support. The formula revolves around an almost economic system, where you receive money during the match for kills, assists, healing, and the like. You use this money to purchase upgrades for your class, or turrets to help defend against enemies. There are also other items that can be purchased in the game, most notably dispensers that you can use to instantly fill your juice meter. This grants you a burst of survivability, increasing your health to full and giving you a massive boost in your damage output, fire rate, movement speed, and reload speed.
Another notable purchase is what’s dubbed the “Annihilator”: a terminal that appears in the exact center of each map every few minutes. Once purchased, it will do a small amount of damage to every enemy player, and instantly destroy the opposing team’s advancing robots. Both of these sometimes feel like a cheap advantage, but the time required between uses somewhat balance this out. Although I will admit I would like to see Uber increase the time between juice usages. I have seen teams dominate due to a single player using the juice terminal every minute or so, destroying all of the enemy’s turrets in one swoop.
The sound design in Monday Night Combat is definitely something to get excited over, as the theme of the game mimics the excitement of weekend sports shows. "Mickey Cantor", the very well-casted announcer calls out to players, offering suggestions on when you should upgrade your skills, or praising someone who successfully pulls off a great kill streak. The game’s voice acting is superb, rarely feeling intrusive. From the Hawaiian Gunner to the Italian Support, most of the one-liners will at least put a smile on your face. The game’s inclusion of the Penny Arcade-inspired “Juice Bot” and the voiceovers added therein feel very true to the game, and further adds to the feeling of a popular sporting event. Even the music adds a feeling of excitement while you’re waiting in the game’s lobby for the next round to begin. And the fact that the developers have managed to convey this feeling despite the fact that the sound isn’t heard very often really says a lot.
The graphics are very well tuned for PC, scaling up above the Xbox 360 version’s when cranked up. Conversely, they also scale down rather well for older computers, while still managing to look fairly good. Performance is great on a mid-range PC, and is adequate on lower end PC’s. The visual design is very well done, giving a pseudo-futuristic vibe, while staying with the sporting event motif mentioned above. Texture effects are skillfully used, giving a damage overlay onto damaged robots and turrets, which, in turn, serves as a visible cue for Supports wanting to keep them healed and/or upgraded. The turret and robot designs are also very well done, to the point that you’d never find yourself confusing two machines for one another. From the bulbous Shave-Ice Turrets to the tall, powerful Rocket Turrets, or even the statuesque Blackjack robots to the hulking Jackbot, all of them are unique and distinctly-designed. I must also say that, as a gambler, I personally enjoyed the casino-based names they applied to the main robots.
Uber Entertainment has very skillfully ported an excellent game over to a much different platform without changing around the feeling the game inspires. It’s still a frenetic, fast-paced team-based shooter, with arena-RPG styled game elements. All of these variables mix into a unique shooter that has become a new personal favorite for both me and my friends. If you haven’t picked it up for PC yet, Monday Night Combat is available on Steam for 14.99 USD. And I can honestly say it’s well worth the price.
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