Home > Action, PC, Shooter > Super Monday Night Combat [PREVIEW]

Super Monday Night Combat [PREVIEW]

Super Monday Night Combat: released April 19th, 2012
Developer: Uber Entertainment
Platforms: Windows

EDIT: This preview was written during the closed beta period, and while it’s still the same basic game, many things have surely changed. It is still free to play though, and totally open for anyone to download and enjoy, so log on to Steam and give it a go!

In the past few years we’ve seen a pretty steady rise in the popularity of MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games, with the charge being led by F2P big shot League of Legends, and of course Valve’s upcoming entry, DotA 2. While DotA (the original Warcraft III mod) came out quite a while ago, the gametype seems to have only recently really caught on with the gaming masses, and Uber Entertainment has decided that they’re not going to be left out in the cold. Their first game, the original Monday Night Combat, was a unique outing that managed to successfully blend tower defense and DotA, with the in your face action of a competitive shooter. The original MNC was a fantastic game, one that I will remember fondly for as long as I consider myself a gamer, but it was still more of a shooter with DotA and tower defense influences, than a standalone DotA-shooter hybrid. Super Monday Night Combat looks to change that.

If you’ve gotten in to the closed beta or have recently visited the game’s forums at all, you’ll likely have seen the phrase “The rules have changed.” mentioned quite frequently. I’ll let you know right out the gate that this is not a marketing ploy, the rules really have changed. As someone who spent a pretty significant chunk of time playing the original MNC, I can tell you that moving on up to Super MNC was a pretty jarring experience. The controls are still the same, the amusing announcers are still there, and it still looks like my beloved Monday Night Combat, but the way games unfold is significantly different this time around. For the multiplayer mode (called Crossfire) at least, all aspects of the gameplay that mimicked a tower defense title have been dropped, and Super MNC has gone the route of being a total shooter-DotA hybrid.

Depending on how you feel about the budding MOBA genre, this news is either amazing, or it’s a nightmare. All I can say is that if you’re not a fan of MOBA games, please just keep an open mind, because the way Super MNC is executed may just rescue the experience for you. To fans of the MOBA genre, you know how this game works. There are lanes, there’s jungling, there are creeps, and your heroes (referred to as Pros in the MNC universe) all have abilities that you can level up as you gain experience. I personally know a few fans of the original game that were a tad concerned when they learned of the direction the series had taken, but having played it quite a bit these past few days, I can say that it feels a lot more focused now, and is genuinely a ton of fun. The original MNC blended a lot of interesting mechanics together, and it produced an exceptionally outstanding experience, but none of those mechanics ever felt totally fleshed out on their own. It’s evident from my time with Super MNC that Uber Entertainment have a clear vision for what they’re trying to do, and I believe their game will flourish because of it.

There are currently thirteen Pros to choose from, as well as two playable levels. One defining characteristic of MOBA games is that they tend to have a massive pool of characters to play as, and while I don’t know whether or not Uber is planning on reaching in to the hundreds (like League of Legends), they do certainly plan to add more Pros than what is currently being offered. Though it’s not much (yet), the character base is still already double that of the original game, and they are getting much more creative with their designs this time around. Two great examples of this would be Karl, the classy, monocle wearing robot who thinks he’s a human, and Cheston, the suit wearing gorilla. Pros in Super MNC actually qualify as real characters, with real names this time around, instead of just name designations like, “Assassin,” or “Sniper.” Those Pros are still in the game of course, but it’s nice to see them adding a little flavor to the playable characters this time around.

Taking a page out of the League of Legends playbook, Super MNC will also make use of a rotating playable character roster. The first couple days I played happened to be during a period where every Pro was available for use, but then the weekly update hit, and I was reduced to six playable characters. This was unfortunate since the two characters I’d gotten fairly decent with both became locked, and I’d yet to earn enough credits to unlock them, which really put a damper on my experience. I think a rotating character roster can work, but not with so few playable Pros to choose from. Thankfully we’re still pretty early in the beta phase, so they’re likely to release a good number of other Pros before the game launches, and with the increased variety in playable characters, hopefully the character rotations won’t feel like such a detriment.

Thus far Uber has done a fantastic job of giving each Pro their own unique style. Just as in LoL or DotA, each character has their own unique attributes and abilities that make them play differently from the others, and as such must tackle different situations in different ways. There’s a much bigger MOBA influence here than before, and it has impacted the gameplay significantly. Anybody who plays a MOBA game knows that killing creeps in the early game to gain money and experience is an absolutely huge factor in the success or failure of your team, and that logic also holds true in Super MNC. Killing creeps (called bots) will earn you money and experience, and you’ll need to farm well during the early stages of the game, lest your opponents out-level you and turn the tides in their favor.

This is not a typical shooter where you simply hunt down your enemy and place their head on a pike for all to see. Depending on the character you’re playing, you can still harass enemy players while they try to farm bots and gain experience, but you generally won’t be pushing in to their territory until the mid-game. This is mainly due to the extremely dangerous towers that reside on each team’s respective side of the map. I said before that Super MNC dropped the original game’s tower defense style building mechanics, and this is why. All MOBA games have these towers in their lanes that prevent the opposing forces from progressing too easily in to their territory, and the entire strategy for victory in this game is centered around getting past these things so that you can take down the enemy team’s money ball. These towers are vicious, dealing huge amounts of damage if you get too cocky and wander too near to them, and they take quite some time to destroy. It’s a key mechanic of MOBA games, and it translates well to MNC’s unique style of play.

The original Monday Night Combat had a customization system for your classes that utilized “Endorsements.” These were basically product endorsements from various companies (gotta love how they keep it all in theme!) that you could assign to your custom class, and each endorsement would grant a particular stat boost of some kind. These have made a return in Super MNC, and they’re now accompanied by “Products,” which are essentially additional items in your loadout which can either be activated manually, or are activated immediately upon death. Each custom class can have up to five endorsements equipped, which will increase various statistics such as rate of fire, critical chance, health regen, ability cooldown, etc. And you’re allowed to have up to three products equipped as well. Picking the correct endorsements and products to compliment your Pro’s playstyle is essentially a strategy game all it’s own, and it’s the little nuances that these mechanics provide that really bring a sense of depth to the over-all experience.

A big part of the attraction to these games, for me, is in the strategies. There are dozens, upon dozens of guides created around individual characters in these games, each one describing what they think is the best way to go about playing as them. Is your character capable of holding a lane all by himself? What endorsements should you be using to maximize your Pro’s capabilities? What order do you level up your skills? These questions only scratch the surface of topics you need to be thinking about when playing this type of game. What excites me so much about Super MNC is that it takes all of the strategic, give-and-take gameplay of a game like DotA, and transforms it so seemlessly in to a competitive shooter, while still maintaining all of the qualities that made it a MOBA game in the first place. You’re playing it as a shooter, but you’re thinking about it like a MOBA game.

On the technical side of things, the game already looks fantastic! The colors are vibrant, shadows are pleasant, and the art style from the original game has only gotten better. Of course the fantastically ridiculous announcer from the original game is back, and he’s still a lot of fun to listen to. The MNC universe has a way of taking the whole commercialized bloodsport angle, and turning it in to this fun, happy, light-hearted experience that feels so much more wholesome than it really is, and I love it for that. The presentation is a defining feature of this series and I’m glad to see it remains intact for this newest iteration.

As far as the Free to Play economy is concerned, it’s essentially the same exact model as League of Legends. You can spend real world cash to unlock characters, skins, products, endorsements, taunts, and even “boosts” which will grant you increased experience after every match. Thankfully, with the exception of the boosts, all of these things can be unlocked by simply playing the game and earning credits. It will take a notably longer time to do so, but the important thing to note is that nothing is denied to you if you truly do not wish to send any money Uber’s way. Just play a whole lot, and you can unlock whatever you like!

I absolutely loved the way the original Monday Night Combat took all of those different genres and competently crafted it’s own unique take on them, but I really feel that Super Monday Night Combat is going to blow it out of the water. The experience is just so much more focused now, and it does such an excellent job of translating all of the things we know and love about MOBAs in to something new and exciting. It’s got style, it’s got depth, and it plays unlike anything else out there (with the exception of the original MNC of course, though they’re still quite different).

I think the most important thing to note is that the game is still pretty early on in it’s closed beta stage, and they’re frequently making tweaks to the balance and mechanics in the game, not to mention adding new levels and Pros, so what I’ve played thus far is only a fraction of what the game will eventually become. The achievements (which are inactive at this time) even mention a Blitz mode, so there’s even hope of the original tower defense style of gameplay making a return in an additional mode, just like before. There is just so must to love about this series, and Super MNC really feels like a step forward. We’re still so early in the game’s life, and yet it’s already managed to dig it’s hooks in to me! I personally can’t wait to see how this game grows, and any MOBA fans out there would do well to keep their eyes on it as well.

Sign up to try and get in to the closed beta by visiting their website, HERE.

(Except actually, no. That’s a lie. Closed beta ended approximately seven thousand years ago… give or take about 6999ish years. It’s open to everybody now, so go play it. I COMMAND YOU.)

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