It's also unwise to forget the other embellishments scattered around each map - purchasable jump pads, lightning strikes, bonus droids for cash and a dancing mascot you can shoot for loads of money: all things you've got to account for in general play.
Perhaps unbelievably, it all works - despite being a little overwhelming when you first pick up the controller. Monday Night Combat doesn't quite work like a standard shooter, but you quickly learn to bury yourself with the marching robot masses and slowly advance up the line. Patience is rewarded, as neglecting your droids means you won't be able to capture the enemy Moneyball.
The problem, though, is that the classes could do with some balancing. It doesn't really detract from the overall game - and, yes, there's a precedent: Bad Company 2 plays just fine despite the fact the medic is an unstoppable juggernaut - but there's a clear bias in favour of certain classes at the moment. In the defence of developer Uber Entertainment, the game uses a devilishly clever Xbox LIVE workaround to tweak the classes without requiring you to download endless Title Updates.
While much of the game shines, map design and variety falls by the wayside. Blitz mode only has one to choose from - the aptly titled Blitz Arena - leaving the other four for Crossfire. They all sing to a similar tune: entirely symmetrical, with two levels, peppered with packed-in corridors making way for wide-open central halls and team spaces. Functional arenas, perhaps, but hardly the next 2fort or Facing Worlds.
As always, it can be frustrating when playing with random players. Your skill upgrades don't carry over to other classes, so you'll occasionally end up in tricky predicaments when, half-way through a game, everyone will switch to your class - leaving you trying to weigh up the team's tactical need for variety against whether you can afford to let go of the thousands of dollars you've spent.
Even worse: the delicately constructed online mode tumbles like a house of cards as soon as a team of even basic competence assembles itself against public randoms. This is true for so many online shooters, but there's a clear gap in the game's scoring system: truly defensive play will usually put you at the bottom of the table, but failure to do it will almost definitely cause your team to lose.
Uber could learn a thing or two from something like, say, Bad Company 2, and the way it awarded medics more points for healing their squad than gaining a kill, effectively encouraging even random players to emphasise teamplay. As it stands, you'll probably want to buddy up with some friends before braving the online masses.
Still, Monday Night Combat is an adeptly handled game. It's an exciting, occasionally thrilling online shooter with a genuinely engaging hook, and a clever hodgepodge of many pre-existing trends to boot. What's most exciting, though, is how the game (and the franchise) could develop in the months and years to come. Tower Defence is no longer the staple diet of iPhone and Flash developers.
VideoGamer.com Score8 Score out of 10
- Excellent blend of two genres
- Crossfire mode is great fun
- Scoring system could be better
- Framerate can suffer in busy moments