The rules have changed: Classes in Super Monday Night Combat

As free-to-play games are constantly changing, traditional reviews can't really do them justice, so Joystiq relies on a series of unscored review diaries to record our experiences with them. Today brings part two of our Super Monday Night Combat diaries. Read part one if you haven't!

The rules have changed Classes in Super Monday Night Combat

The key to winning in Super Monday Night Combat – aside from teamwork – is to play to your character's strengths. While customization options such as endorsement slots and products help tailor characters to different styles of play, each character is still married to overt roles.

The game features five types of classes: commandos, strikers, enforcers, defenders, and sharpshooters. Trying out each of the class types to find what you work best with is highly recommended. Here's a short primer on each of the class types, as showcased through my favorite character in each category.%Gallery-132035%

Captain Spark is an orphan – raised by eel-pony hybrids – who now makes his living as a masked superhero. Did I mention that SMNC likes to have fun with its fiction? (Those interested in the particulars of SMNC's crazy world should read the character biographies in the game's store.) This commando can bend lightning to his will using an electric sword and a ray gun. Commandos are glass cannons meant to both harass players and to act as kill finishers. Spark's mobility is unparalleled, as he can traverse the map at high speed and can teleport through walls. Couple that with Spark's ability to temporarily blind other characters, his ability to annoy and harass players is unquestioned.

Megabeth is a punk rock, Japanese roller derby girl who is equipped with a rocket launcher, a paintball gun and rainbow kicks. These assets come together to position Megabeth as a striker – Pros who pack a lot of burst damage. New players should consider starting with a striker, as they're the closest thing to a 'soldier' class. Not in terms of how generic the class is, mind, but rather in terms of how easy a striker is to pick up and play.

Leo is ... well, he's Leonardo da Vinci, cloned in the future. Instead of using his scientific prowess to help society, Leo fell in love with the bloodsport of Monday Night Combat. Leo is a defender, a Pro meant to hold positions and buff other Pros. Given his background and genius, it makes sense that Leo's abilities revolve around machinery. For instance, Leo can throw out a turret with a buffing aura, or hack nearby team bots for added benefits. Add Leo's ability to heal an entire team at once, and you can count on Leo to save your side from a pickle.

The Gunslinger is a spur-wearing, Soutern accent-toting, rifle-loving, cowboy-esque Marshall. One of two Sharpshooters available – making it the scarcest class at the moment – the Gunslinger excels at long range combat. Sharpshooters are highly accurate and their ability to headshot players makes them extremely deadly, but they're also the hardest class to play.

Finally, there are enforcers. These characters are meant to be on the front lines, as they excel at close-range combat. This Pro type includes my personal favorite, the Veteran. He's a wrestler who uses all sorts of grabs and holds to inflict terror on enemy players. He's got homing laser eagles and can pull players in close using his special Ka-Claw ability. Oh, and he kind of sounds like The Rock. Lines about jabronis and everything.

Ideally, a team has one of each of these character types, though advanced play can see less conventional teams. You want your enforcers at the front, pressuring the other team and using their high health to soak up damage. Commandos crawl all over the map, looking for an opportunity to cause trouble – be it finishing someone off, farming bots or just being an annoyance. Strikers give offensive bursts of support from mid range, and work well with enforcers – especially when an enforcer needs to back off for a bit and recuperate. Meanwhile, defenders stake out a part of the map to try to ensure footing that is firm enough to fend off the enemy team's advances. Finally, sharpshooters stay far from the action but are a constant threat to anyone who pokes their head out in the bot lanes.

The roles might be set, but the way these classes function is malleable thanks to 'endorsements' and 'products' that modify skills and abilities. My veteran, for example, can set enemies on fire after grappling, can invert damage into health and is a magnet for any errant power pick-ups thanks to the products I've equipped. My endorsements prioritize skill regeneration, fire rate and health. I could have a totally different Veteran loadout if I wanted, as there are dozens of different options. It all depends on how I want to play.

Though the class types embody run-of-the-mill roles in shooters, it's impressive to see Uber still manage to create zany characters with interesting skills. I'm even interested in the typically generic soldier-type, and that's a feat. Uber updates the game frequently with new content like maps and gear, but there's plenty of stat and ability tweaking, too. This rejiggering is meant to maintain balance and to ensure Pros adhere to their intended roles.

So far, despite being over a hundred hours deep, the game feels like it's constantly evolving, constantly offering new incentives to keep playing. Later this week, I'll explore just how free Super Monday Night Combat is. Stay tuned!

Sound fun? You can install Super Monday Night Combat on your PC via Steam right here. You can also read part one of the SMNC review diaries here.