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A look at Super Monday Night Combat - Destructoid

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My Name is Rob, and I am a amateur writer and gamer. I write blogs about pretty much everything under the sun from video-games, to tabletop rpgs, to old TV shows. My common online Alias is Necroscourge, and I subscribe to quite a lot of betas. I am also the Admin of the New World of Darkness Roleplaying Website Jagged Shadows
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Super Monday Night Combat is the sequel to a Xbox Live Arcade game that was later ported to PC with abysmal results. The main issue was the original game simply was not geared for the PC FPS market with its complete reliance on single hit kills from snipers or assassins to get any kills whatsoever, both of which classes that were a joke on its home console but with the ability to use a mouse to aim became very over powered and resulted in snipers dominating the huge open spaces every map was made out of.

At the time the games dev team was amazingly pretentious and wrote off any genuine criticism of their game as a direct attack as well as the community being made up of Xbox shooter fans. Most of that crowd rarely could boast having their balls drop. As other reviewers had pointed out way too much of the game was trying to tell you how awesome it was without really delivering. The PC game play and crowd instantly made me hate a game I originally loved, and its why for the longest time I really didn't want to submit myself to playing its free to play sequel.

The game is heavily inspired from MOBA style games, specifically offshoots of the Warcraft 3 Defense of the Ancients map that have become amazingly popular recently for their action packed and simplistic game play. Both teams have a base, and victory depends on the teams ability to push their robots into the enemy base. Focus was on getting funding quicker then the other team to afford the means to progress into their base.

For starters when you begin to play you will notice that its a unreal engine game as well as nearly demands to be played in widescreen. Expect a ton of lag. The game also has a remarkably shallow metagame based around leveling up allowing you to use more endorsements which give small benefits to your characters as well as grinding coins to afford better endorsements and unlock additional characters.

SMNC focuses now more on tactical tug of war styled combat, as now turrets cannot be constructed and bots have been upgraded to be a great deal stronger. That isn't to say its completely different now, players can still spawn bots, the annihilator still exists, and ejector pads are still around making knowledge of the last game pretty important especially because the games training mode is a blatant lie.

The Annihilator is a large pad in the middle of the arena that usually requires a jump pad to access to normally placed in the totally-not-stolen-from-a-specific-game "Jungle" which from what I can tell seems to be the second floor of the arena. Why can't they at least be slightly original and call it the Canopy then? Upon use, the annihilator blows up every enemy bot and heavily damages enemy players. Lanes also have repulsion pads that can be activated to shove enemies off and heavily damage them. They are also handy for knocking people off ledges or stopping people from running away.

Training mode match-makes a team of noobs against absolutely nobody. Just AI bots and no enemy pros. As a result the actual amount of training received is pretty much none and this mode does nothing to actually educate players. Sure the new very annoying not-real-voice-actors announcers blatantly insult your intelligence and constantly talk about the rules of the game but more often then not you will blink and forget what they said anyway as chip talks about violently raping a hooker with a banana. Seriously, they will blurt out the most jaw dropping weird non-sequiturs. What ever happened to Mickey Cantor?! If they just kept him and hired Greg Proops that would instantly fix that problem, because its pretty obvious how much they are trying to steal Mad Worlds jokes. HEYOOOOOOO!

Every class more or less has a gimmick, a melee and ranged weapon, and three abilities. They also restricted weapon selection to the mouse wheel so have fun looking at the key binds wondering why you can't switch weapons because they sure as hell are not telling you. Even League of Legends took the time to make a tutorial as one of its first releases and bothered to give you the basic rules of the game. There is however a large guide that you have the option of looking through on the main games page but there is so much in the way of blinking lights and buttons there is no way you are going to notice the tiny blue guide text untill you stop and look at the screen for awhile.

The melee system needs work, as like a FPS you need to switch to your melee weapon. You also need to have it out in order to do a grapple maneuver, which is the strongest attack you can throw out to do instant damage with absolutely no counter attack possible whatsoever besides one classes ability. In fact there is a class revolving around this broken mechanic called the Veteran. This gets annoying because only a handful of classes have a decent melee weapon that you have to switch to in order to combat grapplers, who all seem to have the power to instantly charge next to you and have a very small cool down between their attacks.In short, the games controls battle you to the very end, because if you miss your grapple expect to wait several seconds before you get another try.

Turrets can no longer be upgraded or purchased. While its annoying seeing such a cool concept go I can see why, as this extremely shortens the length of matches and is fairly new player friendly. MNC's biggest problem was people just didn't understand the concept of buying turrets or bots. So I can see where simplifying that concept is actually a good move for SMNC. While I do mourn the loss of Gapshots and Longshots, I can also see the logical reason they were removed as well. Turrets seem to have a shield now that protects them from being destroyed without your bots near them in order to prevent the more mobile classes from sneaking in and taking out your defenses. Of course, due to the small range of turrets there are many places where long ranged weapons like the bazooka or mortar can take turrets out from afar but at least they need to be pushed at your base to do it.

As a MOBA, the familiar feel of absolutely sucking for your first hundred or so games is present. Most classes are filler, with terrible damage and abilities with all of the focus being on the Veteran and the Soldier... wait I mean Megabeth. At time of writing Megabeth has the best accuracy and damage in the game leading to her being played in every single match, with another player always playing a Veteran. Most of the classes have terrible damage output due to their requirement to get remarkably close to their enemies in order to hit anything while the two mentioned classes have no problem hitting you afar with fairly fast moving and painful projectiles while if you are lucky you might get them with a stray shot or two. In short, expect to get really good at playing Veteran and Megabeth or fail miserably.

As before, Bot spawn areas have pads that you can spawn special robots for a bit of money. These bots go from damage sponges, gremlins, and more. Another interesting move is that Jackbot XL's, the biggest bot in the game no longer spawn automatically but can be spawned for a large lump of money. This allows teams that get fed too much to instantly end the game by spawning a series of big angry robots to make the enemy regret feeding them so much. I honestly find this preferable to other MOBA's that penalize in the way of making a few enemies super strong through gear.

Gameplay suffers from the original games issue of having a few classes that just don't fit yet are the most popular because of it. As a result you will be seeing a lot of Captain Sparks, Assassins, and Veterans sprinting right into a large amount of enemies just to see them die in mere seconds. Melee simply does not fit, yet the game tries so hard to make it fit much like trying to force a huge circle peg into a triangle spot. It is trying to have team based attrition combat and high octane melee combat all in the same game resulting in a lot of players trying to play the game like a melee combat game when in reality its team based attrition gunplay. Too many of the games classes are geared towards ignoring the concept of pushing bots down lanes resulting in the winning team not having any of these classes or all of them due to their greater damage output then any of the gun wielding classes besides Megabeth.

Thankfully the dev team removed instant kills, one of the major reasons MNC fell pretty quickly into obscurity. The first game was full of wide open areas and arenas that snipers could get instant kill headshots from, and assassins could kill almost anybody in a one hit grapple. These are completely gone from SMNC and the game is oh so much better for it. Knocking people off the arena however is still a instant kill, but harder now at least.

The majority of the original MNC characters are locked at the start and requires thousands of in game coins to unlock core classes of the game. Like other MOBA's you can also pay real money to unlock new weapon skins (Palette swaps), character skins(Mostly palette swaps), and additional taunt animations. Endorsements can cost a few thousand coins as well, rewarding long time players of the game with the ability to fire over 15% faster and more! While not the games worst design decision, it will take a long time to grind out the coins needed to unlock them.

It all boils down to once again a newcomer to the genre trying to get way too fancy with its design without taking the time to structure it in a way that players can understand and trying to make their game look awesome without being awesome at all. No doubt they are going to use the fact they are new to the genre as a constant excuse to make bad games throughout their career like some Uwe Boll of game designers. I do agree that the game graphically looks nice but that's absolutely nothing if anybody with a computer not made in the last three years needs to turn everything down to min in order to play at more then 2fps. And above all the game is just not done yet, there feels like there was no balancing attempted, and it feels like most of the game is not finished yet. Evidenced by the fact that the game was released on accident and rather then realize they still needed to do preliminary beta testing they released it anyway skipping months of valuable time required to polish the game.

While I do like the game better then Loco (And I HATE Loco), there is just way too many bad design choices to make it redeemable and as a new game developer there is no way they are going to listen to any criticism surrounding their perfect masterpiece. I would give it a month or two until the game falls into obscurity unless a total redesign concerning its class system happens. Badly balanced weapons and several classes that have no place in the game are holding back what could of been a pretty good class based competitive tower defense shooter.

If you can put up with the lack of balance testing and mismatched classes then the game really is not that bad, though it still has a great deal of work to be done on it. The melee classes clash way too much with the shooting gameplay, the game just has to pick one or the other or remove the grappling mechanic instead of throwing every single mechanic in and expecting it to just mesh together.

Necroscourge

4/24/12



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