Monday Night Combat is a great game. It’s basically like DotA, tower defense and TF2 class based action mixed together. Review done. Ship it.
I want to make it clear that MNC is not really TF2, since the only thing it shares are the classes, apart from that there isn’t much more in common. The characters are original enough and the class base traits and roles are unique. The game is goofy, chaotic and rather fun and the community is rather lively so it’s easy to get into games pretty quickly.
MNC is one of my favorite Xbox games, and now that it is on the PC, I’m ecstatic. The content provided on the PC exceeds the Xbox version. And with a high replay factor, there really isn’t much to lose.
Note: This is one of my old reviews that didn’t transfer over when I first started reposting Steam reviews on this site.
If you have played Section 8 before, you might remember how the game was kind of fun but had flaws in execution (specifically game mechanics and balance). Hopefully, this isn’t the case with Prejudice, right? Right?
Before we start, I do want to apologize for the lack of gameplay screenshots. I would have some, but I was clenching the controller so tight, I never got a chance to take any. Let’s get started!
The main improvement from Section 8 would probably be the Dynamic Combat Missions (DCMs). If you don’t remember what they were, it was basically an attempt to throw in another game mode during a firefight. A great example of a DCM is: “HAY GUYS. YOU NEED TO GO SAVE THE KING AND CAMP FOR LIKE 15 MINUTES WHILE THE ENEMIES HAVE INFINITE AIR STRIKES, PLEASE IGNORE THE FACT YOU ARE ACTUALLY IN A FIREFIGHT AND ARE HAVING FUN, GO DO MY LUDICROUS MISSION RIGHT NOW.” Fortunately, this has improved quite a bit. DCMs are no longer as important as they used to be, they do not take up to seven minutes to complete, and they aren’t constantly smeared in your face. They’re still frivolous, but they aren’t annoying.
Multiplayer is a blast to play and currently features two modes, Conquest and Swarm. I haven’t played Swarm yet but it looks like Monday Night Combat’s Blitz mode. So everything here on out is about Conquest unless stated otherwise. There’s about five or so maps and each game can have up to 30 people. Unfortunately, the team balancer doesn’t work fairly well, so unless a game has bots on (which are actually decent fighters), games can end up one-sided (it doesn’t ruin the fun that much).
Speaking of balance, the guns are fairly balanced, with my biggest complaint being the shotgun. Specifically, the shotgun that shoots fire (This is where TimeGate loses points, because you have to buy the DLC for it [Yeah, they went there] Apparently, you can unlock it via natural progression but it still doesn’t make up for the fact that it’s overpowered) does a ton of damage and leaves a huge flame spread everywhere. It’s annoying and unfair.
With that out of the way, I want to talk about controls. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like with the Xbox controller, the game is a tad less responsive than usual (yes, I play with a 360 controller. And no, that doesn’t make me terrible. As of writing I’m in the top 15 worldwide). I stopped playing because my hands and wrists were sore (a first).
Speaking of controllers: Why does A have to be exclusively set to “use”? It’s a context sensitive button. Why can’t we have jumping and flying for that button as well and then use the other bumper for other tech? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve ran into wanting to throw a grenade only to find out my heal beacon is selected, thus I heal myself and die (plus since we only have two equipment items, doesn’t this make a bit of sense? It’s way easier than constantly switching using the dpad).
While I’m throwing random images around, I might as well show this: what’s up with the UI sliders here?
My other complaint is the extremely long wait time at the end of a match. Seriously, you wait about 45 seconds for the next round to start, with ten seconds for loading, plus an additional 15 so that everyone can be ready and another five before the game starts. WHAT’S WITH THE DELAYS, TIMEGATE?! EH? ARE YOU TIGHTENING UP THE GRAPHICS ON LEVEL THREE? IS THAT YOUR ISSUE? I assume they’ll patch it. Hopefully.
Lastly, I want to talk about the campaign. The campaign is a huge improvement from the one in Section 8. There’s an actual tutorial level that sets up the story a bit, but it never really improves from there. The characters are shallow and forgettable (even by other characters!), the objectives are rather bland (HACK A CONSOLE FOR THE 80 BILLIONTH TIME) and the story leads up to one central boss fight which is actually pretty cool but the fight is so short, it’s almost worthless having it (you beat him by putting a clip into him and then ripping off a part of his armor).
I didn’t play Hard mode, so I can’t tell if the difficulty really increases, but come on, Stormtroopers are better than these guys (near the end, I kept running into enemies getting stuck in places they shouldn’t be). The only times I had to reload from a save were because I couldn’t see through the particle shitstorm (pardon my french) that the bridge had collapsed. Or the fact that lava is an instant kill, even if it barely touches you.
Also the prerendered cutscenes look terrible. I’m sorry, but they have the picture quality of watching something from 2003. When I watch them, I feel like I’m playing Jedi Academy or something (the final cutscene is the major offender here). They look so forced and lifeless that it actually subtracts from the game.
That said, Section 8: Prejudice is worth a look. At least get the demo, because it is rather fun (and a huge improvement from Section 8). The game is easily accessible, has a lot of depth for its price, and Prejudice is a great game to play whenever (it’s also ready for LAN games).
To start off, I played this on the Xbox 360 before and beat it. The console version was great (looking over the horrible network issues it has), and the PC version is just as good, HOWEVER: the campaign is littered with mouth sync issues, the invasive DRM makes the game take FOREVER to start-up, audio settings are not as good as the consoles (it’s either can hear them kinda or not at all), the visuals are par with the 360.
IF YOU ARE A VETERAN OF SPLINTER CELL GAMES: This game plays quite a bit differently than previous titles. There is more focus on eliminating all the guards rather than a focus on stealth. Stealth elements are there, but it is nowhere near the same degree as the original Splinter Cell game.
That said, this is definitely a game you should play. It is much easier to get into than previous Splinter Cell games. This is also not a game for children. Violence-wise, this is on the level of a Jason Bourne movie. The key turn off is the amount of language, with the majority of it being rather vulgar.
The story is decent, it’s not to the level of BioWare writing, but it keeps the game going. The locations are fairly large and expansive, which is nice. There are plenty of places to hide in the level, which allows for a fair amount of stealth. I’ve read other reviews that nagged on the combat, but I found no problem with it.
However, the prompts for actions are incredibly small and picky. For example, during one part of the game you are underground and have to crawl on a pipe in order to stealthily get over to the next room. Unfortunately, the pipe intersects with other pipes, so pressing A will either get you to jump over the guard rail (where a million guards are standing, talking about some stupid plans and how “IF I SEE FISHER I’MMA GONNA KILL HIM”) or hop onto the exact pipe you don’t want to be on.
These events happen more than once in the game, though it really does add to the suspense when the game makes you do the direct opposite of what you intended to do.
But even so, this game is a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it.
The community games feature of the Xbox 360 tends to be plagued with unwanted games and stupid massagers. Not to say that all community games are bad (I personally enjoy the ones that actually have put in a bit of work into them) but there is one game that shines as a great example of the community games section of the marketplace. That game is Kodu Game Lab.
Created by the team at the Microsoft Research Labs, Kodu is a super simplified version of any old map editor (except you can also add scripting to the map without having to use any other application).
It strives to be easily accessible and feature tons of replayability through allowing the player to make more stuff. Kodu, while a tad limited, is so accessible I would say that it’s right up with commercial game editors. Kodu basically allows you to create games in the form of map files that include AI and level scripting.
The best feature, the very very very very best feature of Kodu is the Sharing system. Most games that allow content creation tend to be very limited in sharing. For example, Trials HD only allows you to share your tracks with only your friends and only those that are online. Kodu Game Lab figures that most people will not have friends that also play this game, so there are three default gamertags called KoduZones.
These gamertags act like community bulletin boards and allow you to upload anything that you’ve made to the tag. This allows others to download your content without you having to be online. The Kodu community feels so open and friendly, just patiently waiting for you to upload some of your works. The one thing that makes the community so special is the fact you can’t rate other people’s stuff. Which is probably a good thing. But to make up for that, Kodu automatically creates thumbnails of all the maps so that you can decide what you really want.
Kodu is limited in how many things you can have on the map, I would think it would have to be because of hardware limitations, but I can forgive Kodu for such problems. Kodu does a fairly nice job at keeping the game open. I’ve seen Halo remakes (that are actually really good), Left 4 Dead (not as good as the halo ones), racing games, top down fighters, football simulators, Zelda remakes, Portal (with dynamic portals) clones, and much much more made in Kodu Game Lab.
Kodu comes with a bunch of maps and tutorials right in the box, and it makes it totally worth the 400 MS points I paid for the game.
My main gripes about Kodu Game Lab are that it tends to lag with lots of objects on-screen, and sharing/downloading new maps can take a very long time.
But other than that, Kodu Game Lab definitely deserves a recommendation. If you have 400 MS points to spare, I totally suggest getting Kodu. What I wouldn’t suggest is playing the trial, because the trial is extremely limited (blame MS’s XNA community guidelines) and you won’t experience the feel of the game.
Some people say that Kodu is baby’s first game maker and I have to say that’s not entirely true. Kodu is focused on just making games and introducing people to the concepts behind game flow. Just because something is simple and friendly doesn’t mean it is childish. Kodu is for people who have never programmed before and always wanted to make a game. It’s for people who have programmed before or want to make something quick and easy. Kodu Game Lab is practically for everyone.
In the amazing event that is me updating this website (I’m planning on revamping this site sometime), I will be reviewing a game that is no where near my satisfaction, Trials HD.
Now before you leave thinking: “Golly, I can’t believe he’s actually updating this blog with more flame posts”, hear where I’m coming from.
Trials HD at its core is a great concept. The first levels are fun and challenging and leave you with the feeling that you might be playing a good game. Not good enough to buy, but something to pick up when you are bored.
“Crawling in my skin”
When I first tried out the trial to Trials HD, I felt like the game was a bit silly. It felt like it was trying to be hardcore but wasn’t really at that level. It’s only when you actually get the game you realize how bad Trials HD wants to be extreme.
On the first few levels I loved how I would go flying in the air, hit a wall and a big cartoony “Crash!” would appear on my screen. It was loads of fun. But then Trials HD started to listen to emo punk music and gave me this odd feeling that Trials HD didn’t like players.
And it wasn’t until the Medium difficulty levels that it became apparent that Trials HD HATES YOU. Not only does it hate you, but it really hates you. It giggles at slashing your car tires every morning, stealing your newspaper, breaking everything you’ve ever owned and so much more. Trials HD is dedicated to making your life miserable.
The game expects that you can magically foresee the future and change the outcome of a jump (of which the outcome is always you dying [and sometimes it will kill you anyways]). And unless you have the reaction time of Jesus, you will fail. Trials HD loves to make you backflip and die. Hitting anything will cause your bike to go ballistic and backflip into the air, no matter how small of an object that might be. Basically, the game knows you are doomed and makes fun of you for it.
If real life bikes handle the way they do in Trials HD, then God must really like Evel Knievel.
Levels are designed to keep things fresh, showing the player all the different ways they suck. Now, I don’t consider myself bad at games. I am or used to be in the top rankings in the Battlefield games and I very very very rarely lose at Burnout games (which requires that you can react extremely quick). But to be good at Trials HD must mean that you are #1 MLG whatever competitive competition thing that people with no lives do.
I really enjoy the level design and the cool little features in each one, but the levels really boil down to tons of button and stick mashing and a bunch of curse words.
The difficulty curve basically looks like this:
I didn’t play any of the tournaments because after I tried to beat the second level in the Extreme category, I just gave up. In the second level, you have to drive backwards, but the problem is that you also need to drive forwards in order to gain speed by going backwards and not to crash. Plus, LT is the button for brake and reverse, so you can imagine all the fun that will ensue! Also, if you fail by a centimeter, you fall into a pit of atomic bombs. Oh joy.
Bob the builder!
The level creation system is cool and I think it would be awesome to make some tracks if you actually wanted to spend the time to do so. The community sharing system is horrible. I mean, you can only share maps you make with friends, which is too bad because no one on my friend’s list is insane enough to go buy this (except for other reviewers like myself). Kodu, a game I plan to review next, came up with the clever idea of making 3 gamertags that are basically, the community’s file servers. Why Trials HD developers didn’t think of this, I don’t know. But they really should have.
I’m happy I got it for free because there is no way on earth I would ever pay for this game. Ever. I suggest other people stay very very very very far away from it.
If you put BMX, Tony Hawk’s Project 8, the daytime levels of Sonic Unleashed, Paperboy and the extreme unresponsiveness of the physics engine in Mirror’s Edge in a blender you would get: BTYPWQUNSONCIWQLKAPYREMXOYGE, and also Trials HD.
The only people you will ever see that continue to play this game are the ones that are trying to get all the EXTREMELY DIFFICULT achievements or ones that will continue to play the Easy levels. In fact, there is no point to playing the Hard or Extreme difficulties. Save yourself the trouble.
Verdict: Don’t buy. Trials HD is fun to play with if you can ignore the horrible controls and the constant gloating of how much you suck. But if you are like any average human, you will avoid failure or at least try to avoid failure. So why don’t you just help yourself and avoid Trials HD.