Gotham City Impostors Review
Game: Gotham City Imposters
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Available on: Xbox LIVE Arcade, PC, PlayStation Network (Reviewed via Xbox LIVE Arcade)
Not being a huge fan of, or indeed an expert in, first person shooters, I guess you could say I have been quite a lucky chap when I have been asked to step out of my comfort zone and cover something from a genre I find can be tiresome and repetitive unless it has something particularly interesting or original about it to grab me by my gaming balls. Section 8: Prejudice was a very enjoyable effort that represented cracking value for a downloadable game, and had a cool turbo boost giving me the ability to live out my inherent jet-pack flight fantasies. Now, with a decidedly oddball spin on the DC-created Batman universe, I find myself investigating the quirky and likeable Gotham City Impostors.
I love comics and enjoy shooting people, so it stands to reason that this should be a winner for me, based as it is on a classic Detective Comics storyline, in which the psychopathic Joker poisons Gotham City, causing the citizens to go insane, and form opposing gangs based upon either the green haired ghoul himself, or the Dark Knight, Batman. Developed by Monolith Productions, who are FPS veterans, responsible for some highly original releases such as the Condemned and F.E.A.R franchises, Gotham City Impostors is a 6 vs 6 multiplayer shooter, which features a selection of five different maps based around well known Gotham locales, a handful of different modes, and fully customisable characters.
There is no story-driven single player mode. This is first and foremost about the multiplayer, and whilst there is a handy tutorial which walks you through the various gadgets and abilities you can utilise during the game, the only single player action you can enjoy is a series of challenges, which involve collecting cunningly placed orbs around the different maps, with points and in-game currency unlocked depending on how quickly you mop them up using whichever toys are at your disposal.
Multiplayer-wise, there are three main modes. The overall premise sees you select your side from either the vigilante Batz faction, or the chaotic, Joker-worshipping Jokerz, and enter into online fun in either a standard Deathmatch set up, or two interesting takes on the old “capture the flag” chestnut. Psychological Warfare sees the two sides duking it out for control of a battery which when obtained will power up a “Propaganda Machine”; get this nefarious device working and it will demoralise your opponents allowing you to rip them a new one as their weapons are stripped away. Fumigation mode sees the two sides competing for “flags” that contain gas containers, with collecting enough to fill an onscreen bar to 100% the aim. An onlooking friend who is familiar with such things tells me that this mode is something of a dead ringer for the Domination modes from a certain mega selling Activision favourite.
Three interesting modes aside, Impostors really comes into its own with its wild array of weapons, and genuinely hilarious sense of humour. All of the standard FPS weapon types are here, machine guns, pistols, shotguns, grenades, but they are rendered in a brilliant style that perfectly suits the nature of the warring factions. You see, these guys are decidedly off-brand superheroes (or villains), clad in ridiculously shoddy, slapdash approximations of their heroes’ clobber, and the weapons – some of which look like they were cobbled together on Blue Peter – are no different. I laughed uproariously upon seeing a Batz participant whose Batman mask was a square-shaped cardboard box painted blue, with eye holes in it. The Jokerz are perhaps less outlandish when you consider the psychotic sartorial mish mash employed by the man himself, but are bonkers nonetheless.
Just as fun are the ways you can fling yourself around the maps, instead of the sleek array of gadgetry employed by Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego, the impostors have things like roller skates, trampolines, grappling hooks that make a hilarious “boiiiinnng!” sound upon activation, and gliders which allow you employ the current from an air vent to ascend and then bust out a gloriously silly dive-bomb attack. The madcap weapons and gadgets are grand, however I was particularly impressed by the way everything can be customised. You can create your own Batz and Jokerz, moulding them using a selection of different body types (each offering different attributes, such as speed, power, melee ability, etc) and accessories to create some genuinely ridiculous creations. You can even decide on the pitch of your characters’ voice, giving a giant beefcake plodder a girly voice to mess with your opponent’s psyche. More items and customisation options are unlocked as you level your character up throughout gameplay, and I will wager that there is going to be a wealth of downloadable content for this bad-boy in the future.
Based upon famous locations from the DC Universe, the five maps are varied and have enough interesting nooks and crannies and well-placed bits and bobs to make things interesting. The Crime Alley map is classic old-school Batman, whilst the ACE Chemicals stage borrows from Tim Burton’s first movie. In fact, everything about this game looks great for a downloadable title, from the superb characters models which a bright and brash, to the wonderfully old-school front-end and weapon description plates, which recall the vintage style used in Bioshock.
If I was going to have a grumble about this game, it would be that it has a bit of a hit and miss lobby system. A few times before playing I was part of a full twelve-player lobby, only for players to disappear before the game began. This is a small gripe really, I played happily for a good while without it being a major issue.
VERDICT: This is a fast moving, genuinely funny, deliriously imagined title, that deserves a look for fans of the multiplayer FPS. It is always going to be limited by the fact that there is no story-driven mode, and games of this ilk will live and die by how busy the servers remain. But there seems to be plenty of planned DLC, and the customisation elements should keep things spicy for a good while. As a fan of Silver Age comics this certainly appealed to me, and while it isn’t as wholesome a comic book experience as Arkham City, it retains the sense of its source material and as such comes with a big (comedy, clown) thumbs up from yours truly.