Perhaps one of the most overlooked titles available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Uber Entertainment’s Monday Night Combat extended its reach to the PC platform six months after its original launch with a sequel currently in beta. Incredibly niche in premise, the series has sought to combine two of the most unlikely genres, the third person shooter and DOTA-style strategy game.
For those in the dark, DOTA refers to a user-created mod for Blizzard’s Warcraft III which has since been used to describe a sub-genre. Stripping away unit/resource management, DOTA is centred around two team of champions who set about destroying enemy strongholds. This is done by using a unique variety of abilities available to each hero as well as minions, NPCs who travel through “lanes” to provide cover and support. Think of it as tower defence fused with action RPG characteristics.
Joining returning favourites such as the Soldier, Tank, Assassin, and Sniper, are a concoction of new Pros (the heroes of Super Monday Night Combat) scattered amongst the different class archetypes.
The new additions to the Commando category are Captain Spark and Wascot, high speed, stealth-oriented Pros with relatively low health.
The tank-like Enforcers get new members too in the form of Cheston and the Veteran. These classes are tailored towards escorting NPCs thanks to high health counts and support abilities. The all-round Assault Pro now has backup in the form of the busty Megabeth, and Karl. Finally, in the Defender and Sharp Shooter professions we have Combat Girl and Gunslinger.
Characters are customisable in a number of different ways. Aside from unlockable visual items, players will be able to switch out weapons, taunts and endorsements (perk-like stat boosts.) These add-ons can be purchased using real cash or in-game credit, though it won’t be until your a few hours into Super Monday Night Combat that you’ll feel comfortable enough to put money down on a particular Pro.
The only gripe I have with the game, and one that could apply to the entire DOTA genre, is that matches usually take over thirty minutes to conclude, even if you are trouncing (or being trounced by) the opposition. It also doesn’t help that once you’ve chosen a character you are locked into that role for the entire game. Pros gain XP and level up their abilities in every match, resetting the next time you play; it’s a meritocratic system that works well with SMNC’s structure, though it often means thinking ahead which could be a problem for casual gamers.
Heavily stylized and unashamedly robust, the game does well in capturing the cheesy gameshow feel with a comical narrator and wacky off-the-cuff occurrences such as suicidal mascots and giant chickens. Though not quite as memorable as the cast of Team Fortress 2, Uber Entertainment has also done a good job of characterising what would otherwise be faceless avatars. Each Pro is designed to suit their in-game role, inclusions such as a Tommy gun wielding gorilla and haughty robot adding a hint of much-welcomed eccentricity.
It requires commitment, but once it has you hooked, Super Monday Night Combat has a tendency of not letting go. Once the learning curve has passed, there’s nothing to stop anyone from enjoying what is easily one of the most polished F2P games of 2012.