Monday Night Combat was originally an XBL downloadable game which then came out on the PC. While it is an interesting combination of several popular team based games it doesn’t get everything right in my opinion.
MNC takes place in the future where entertainment has evolved into the show: Monday Night Combat, where genetically enhanced clones or “Pros” fight and die for our amusement. The graphics style definitely takes a page from Team Fortress 2, characters are bright and animated and you don’t have to worry about things getting too gruesome.
The objective of MNC is to destroy the “money ball” each base has one in the center of it and the first one to have its health reduce to zero loses. Each team has bots that are spawned in their base; the bots follow a predetermined course to the enemy base. Pros can spend money to buy bots from their base along with setting up turrets.
The bots are required to take down the opposing money ball’s shields which keep it immune from damage. Once the shield is down the ball is vulnerable to attack; after a few minutes of being left alone the money ball will recover its shield and the process will be restarted.
There are six classes in MNC: Assault, Assassin, Gunner, Sniper, Tank and Support. Each class is completely different from one another in weapons and skills. The only similarity between each class is that each one can upgrade their skills by spending money. Three of the skills are ones the player can activate while playing such as the assassin’s cloaking ability. The fourth skill is passive and gives each class a specific buff, such as increasing bullet penetration of the sniper’s gun.
A side benefit of boosting skills is raising the attributes of your character in the areas of offense, defense and skill usage. While raising skills is beneficial, it won’t make you overpowered. A fully maxed out pro is still capable of dying from a non upgraded pro.
Figuring out the best way to spend your money is part of the challenge in MNC. When pushing for offense you want to buy additional bots to help out, but if the enemy begins to push back additional turrets may stem the tide. In the middle of each map is “the annihilator”, when activated this will destroy all enemy bots on the map; it does have a cool down time but can be just what the doctor ordered.
MNC does have its faults however. You can definitely tell that this was a game ported to the PC as it lacks several quality of life features, such as: an easy way to voice chat, sort server list by friends, going through menus to name a few.
Next to my time spent with League of Legends, MNC is a game that requires an even number of players due to how the mechanics were designed and if the teams are uneven the game starts to break down in my opinion. The reason is at the money ball, the bots do not do enough damage to the ball to score a win. For that you need pros focusing on it, if a team is out numbered there just won’t be enough people to attack the ball while the shields are down. Also with the low re-spawn rates even if the outnumbered team does wipe out the other team, they will be back on the field fast.
Another issue is coming in late, unlike games like Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead, filling an empty spot can lead to frustration. If you are joining a game in which the other team is already fully leveled you will be in for some trouble as the combination of enhanced skills and stats will make life difficult for you. If a team is so outnumbered that the enemy is already in their base, most often the newly arrived players will not be able to tilt the balance. Even when you have even teams the game still has some issues.
Games that go over 15 minutes become a stalemate when you have both teams fully leveled. Even with the annihilator there really isn’t anything that a team can do to break the stalemate other then the game entering sudden death. When the game enters sudden death, both sides spawn the strongest bots and both money balls lose their shields. At this point the game becomes a mad dash to the opposite side to inflict as much damage as possible.
League of Legends was able to get around this issue of stalemates; there is always an expensive item to buy or going after the strongest creep in the game to get a team wide buff. Also with the spawn timer increasing with the player’s level it means wiping out the other team when at the level cap usually means victory. I’ve had several occasions where my team was way behind in kills come back by wiping out the other team in a team fight. When a MNC match starts to drag on, I noticed people start to leave which starts to tilt the balance one way, then back again when people rejoin.
Minions in League of Legends are considerably more useful then the bots in MNC. They are capable of pushing forward on their own and once you get super minions attacking the nexus, they can do the job themselves. Here, the bots in the late game become more of a nuisance as most pros can dispatch them quickly. Even the ultimate bot: the jackbot can be killed in five seconds with help from a grapple by an assassin or sniper. I liked the idea of each class able to buy different types of bots and I wish it was taken further by being able to enhance them.
The Meta game is also another area that MNC lacks currently. For doing specific achievements in game you can unlock “pro tags” which show up on your pro’s profile. Currently they do not serve any purpose other than cosmetic. After each match you will earn money that can be used to buy these pro tags, other than that there are custom classes. There are also armor re-skins available, but they lack the insane variety seen in Team Fortress 2 or the overhaul of the skins in League of Legends.
A custom class allows you to choose what endorsements or buffs that you want a specific class to have in game. The game doesn’t really tell you how much things are improved which in some cases makes it hard to tell if your endorsements are doing anything. Compared to the crafting in TF 2 or being able to tweak your champion in LoL, MNC seems behind the times when it comes to the Meta game.
While MNC tries to emulate the team based combat of popular games like Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends, it unfortunately lacks the features and mechanics that made these games popular in my opinion. The lack of a real Meta game hurts MNC as it provides no reason for someone not to drop out.
The different maps don’t introduce any new rules or mechanics into the mix; there isn’t a huge change in strategy compared to the different maps of Team Fortress 2. Granted there is more map variety then in League of Legends, but League of Legends is more about the champions then it is about the map.
I find it funny that I played MNC before going to League of Legends as the problems that I have with MNC; I can appreciate League of Legends more for finding ways around them. For people looking for a light hearted team based game, MNC can scratch that itch, I know several people from my steam group who got tired of the Meta game of Team Fortress 2 and migrated to MNC.
For me however I have a combination of Left 4 Dead 2 and League of Legends to sate my multi-player need so unfortunately I won’t be making MVP anytime soon.