8.5

DOTA meets TFC2. Best XBLA game?

I must admit that I may not have the credentials to call Monday Night Combat the best XBox Live Arcade (XBLA) game of all time. The only other XBLA game I've played is Geometry Wars (another great one). However, "best XBLA game of all time" seems to be a phrase that I hear quite frequently from players online and I have not heard anyone disagree to this day.

A quick wrap-up...

It's all about the Crossfire mode in Monday Night Combat. The concept is simple: Crossfire is a 6 on 6 match-up. Red team vs. Blue team. Each team has a main base (aka the Moneyball) that they must protect from the opposing team. Each team consistently spawns robots that take a predestined path to the opposing faction's Moneyball. You want to escort your robots to the Moneyball so you can bring down the Moneyball shields and eventually blow it up. There is also a Blitz mode that features cooperative game-play, rather than player vs. player. There are multiple classes to choose from with different abilities. Collect cash by killing/damaging/(in some cases)healing. Use cash to upgrade your skills (skill cap of 3 throughout the entire game) and build/upgrade turrets. You get 3 skills controlled by the X, Y, and B buttons. You can/should also upgrade your player as a 4th skill (requires same amount of cash, but it's a passive upgrade). Skill use is governed by a regeneration time.

Monday Night Combat is very easy to understand. There is a very helpful tutorial that teaches you all the ins and outs of the game. I strongly recommend starting with this. There are a few customization options, such as your Pro "tag" (kind of like in CoD:MW2... you play to unlock logos for your character). Another key customization option is the ability to purchase custom classes with your 'cash on hand' (cash in-game and 'cash on hand' is separate). You choose your custom class' "position" (character class), and you select 3 "endorsements" (faster reload, faster skill regeneration, extra armor, etc.) Endorsements will compliment your style of game-play and your character class.

As for the style that MNC brings to the table... The whole concept of the game is quite humorous--almost like a Rollerball crossed with Tron crossed with The Running Man (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger). You'll love the announcer and his outrageous antics. You'll secretly stare at Pit Girl before the start of every match. You'll take-on the personality of your favorite character class. And you might even find yourself humming the heavy metal guitar theme song throughout the day. I call MNC "addictive" because of its simplicity and overall wit from the voice acting and NPC names, to the Pro tags and the loading messages. The only thing that docked an entire point-and-a-half off my score is the lag that everyone seems to deal with online. I realize this is merely an XBLA game, but the lag seems to increase in severity and consistency as the game grows in popularity. There are many character skills that depend on a solid latency, but they fail epically in the face of lag. It's extremely frustrating. I hate losing as it is.

Monday Night Combat is what happens when an unstoppable game meets an immovable price. That... and lag.

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