Now I know that I usually only talk about really obscure videogames on here (my policy is "if it needs help...") but lately I've gotten hooked on a really good videogame that's already sold a ton of copies and likely made its developer a lot of money. I guess there's a time for everything. Monday Night Combat combines elements from Team Fortress, Defense of the Ancients, tower defense games, and the beloved Smash TV into a fast, thrilling and very addictive team third-person shooter.
Monday Night Combat is what it sounds like: the favorite, most heavily armed gladitorial sporting event of a bright, shiny, dystopian future. Smash TV is in the air here, from the official and antiseptic disregard for life (player characters appear to be clones) to the game-consuming obsession with piling up cash.
As soon as you start up the game, you're thrown straight into a tutorial. No way around it. Usually this is a suicidal move, but the tutorial is contextualized (the debut of a new pro) and it has you running around and blowing things up so fast that you don't even have time to complain.
Players can choose a class for their character: most of these are directly ripped from Team Fortress 2, and I suppose there's nobody better to steal from. The classes are so similar that I even won't bother talking about them. Money, which you get for making kills and collect around the map, can buy you upgrades for the character's abilities: the beginning of the multiplayer game is often a race to max out your character's abilities.
Single-player builds on the basics from the tutorial in a take-it-easy introduction to the real game that awaits in multiplayer modes: you defend a base (here it's a "moneyball" packed with sweet cash) from attacking waves of robots. There are several types, with their own quirks and gimmicks, and in multiplayer you'll eventually be able to make them work for you.
Around the arena are towers where you can build turrets. If you've played any tower defense game, you've already seen what these do: there's the weak, cheap turret that serves you well in the early stages but inevitably gets blown up, there's the heavy missile unit, there's the sniper tower, and the one that slows the approaching horde.
In mutiplayer, two six-player teams each have a Moneyball to protect. Rather than just fighting off robots, you're fighting off the other team (and the robots, which can be summoned with money and get very dangerous). This is the real game, where all the elements finally come together. Between character upgrades, towers, your team's robot troops, and various other powerups scattered around the map, you have to really think out your budget to do the most damage most efficiently. (I have a whole gameplan for this, but we'll talk about that some other time, or ask me on Formspring or something.)
I think games need to be smaller (even games that are already small, like the traditional 2D shooter), so Monday Night Combat suits me beautifully. A game is at longest only twenty minutes or so, and there's no dead time and a satisfying feeling of progression throughout. This is a slippery-slope kind of game where when you start losing, you start losing fast. There's room for comebacks and stalemates, but only a little bit. Nobody wants to be losing the same hopeless game for an hour (indeed, a lot of oversensitive players disconnect the moment things start to look bad for them), so the pace is really important in a game like this. Before you know it, you'll have lost two hours of your life.
I'm pretty miserable at FPS (this game's view is third-person, but it's not like the genre really changes), but it's good to have something like this around when the urge strikes me. I really don't need a big campaign mode or a vast narrative: all an FPS developer needs to do for me is make a good multiplayer game and I'm there.