Updated Fri, Feb 24, 2012 by Stow
With the surge in popularity in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA (or DOTA)-type genre, it’s no surprise developers are surging forward into it. Monday Night Combat a few years back gave people a taste of third person combat with slight influences of the genre… but you still died in one headshot, two grenades, or another tiny combination of death-dealers. It was sold as a stand alone product and didn’t get a lot of love post launch.
Now Uber Entertainment is back and wanting to crank the MOBA factors to 11 with Super Monday Night Combat, mirroring the most successful of cash shops and giving players huge health pools. Does it work? Let’s just say it’s a little rough compared to the polish of other F2P MOBAs.
Yes, that means you can buy skins for your favorite characters... and taunts.... and have to buy the characters themselves if they aren't free that week. Ugh.
The first thing you’ll notice playing this game is the fact that you can’t do a whole lot without your bot minions pushing. You can’t even damage a turret without bots nearby, as they have a shield otherwise to prevent lame sniping from afar. Bots themselves do a pretty good amount of damage and can drain your health quickly if they get in range. So due to the pushing nature of games like these, one of the major dynamics is bot control and keeping enemy bots down while escorting yours up.
Should you actually decide to brawl with a player, you’ll notice several things. Even a sniper headshot does jack shit for damage and you’ll really need to lay into a player several times to kill them. Health pools have been cranked up greatly, and the days of instant kills or even two hit kills are in the past (aside from knocking someone off the stage!)
The other mind-boggler is that almost all weapons drop off with distance insanely fast. Even bullet weapons and some explosives will become pathetically weak at what would be considered mid-range in most shooters. This is really hard to get used to, but a necessary evil to follow the typical MOBA range limitations.
It’s a little annoying to see almost all of the art assets reused from the original Monday Night Combat, but the good news is that the roster is expanding fast and upwards of 15 pros at this point to play as. The downside is that the new ones have far better design than the originals, which are a little vanilla and old news by now and are in as almost carbon copies.
Admittedly, the new characters are pretty badass. It's a shame the old cast really doesn't have the same ridiculous style.
The matchmaking needs serious work, or the game needs a slightly different design. Of the 25+ games I’ve played, I’d say 20 of them were one sided stomps. Like the MOBA genre, it can be really hard to come back once you start losing (and mechanics like the Annihilator, which destroys all bots and deals big damage to players every 5 minutes for one team, certainly don’t help the losers) and no one likes to play a shooter where they are getting wasted constantly. In other shooters, you can change servers or quit if the teams are stacked. Not in Super Monday Night Combat! You’re forced to suffer through it or play something else, since you can’t join another game when one is in progress with you in it.
Lots of weird physics bugs and animation glitches occur during grapples still, with classes like the Veteran who has a hook that pulls people to him having about a 50% chance of actually pulling the target. On some maps, it’s more like 10%, which leads to a lot of frustration and a potentially wasted class spot. Throwing other players in melee is a crapshoot, and often turns into mud wrestling brawls as both teams start mashing throws on each other. You can’t really react after a throw either, which makes it so the other player can throw you right back most of the time.
There’s a lot of fun to be had in Super Monday Night Combat, but it needs further polish and a lot of matchmaking or design fixes to make the game fun for the losing team. As is, five people per game have a ton of fun, and the other five are miserable and can’t wait for the game to end. So if you don’t mind a coin toss for the next half hour of your life to be entertaining or deplorable, Super Monday Night Combat is a great way to shoot and snipe away a night.