It’s strange how quickly a game can change in public opinion from conception to release. With Gotham City Impostors I went from incredulously laughing “Is this real?” to being interested and after playing the game at PAX, EXTREMELY excited for the game. Of course my hands-on time was set up under absolutely optimal conditions with restricted access to weapon and character customization and restricted to an all too brief amount of time.
Earlier this week the console beta finally launched and I’ve finally been able to get some more hands on time with the game. How much does the game change in the home environment battling across the vast expanses of the internet with full access to the customization depths of the game?
Apparently, a lot.
There are two game modes available in the beta as well as two maps to fight on, with seemingly full access to the character customization which will be available in the full game. Though you’re initially restricted to using pre-made classes with no customization it’s not long before you start unlocking custom slots and gaining access to various things you can change.
Eventually you’ll be able to select your body type, various pieces of your outfit, two “fun facts”, and a few other things which all change various things about your character. Some like your costume are purely cosmetic, but some will drastically change the game and allow you to play the way you want. Your body type for example will change your health and speed, going up/down in contrast to each other as your size alters.
This results in a pretty drastic change on its own, but what really defines your character are the “fun facts” you choose which act similar to the various perk systems from other shooters on the market. These give your character a variety of well…perks…which change the way the game plays. What’s interesting is that most of them have a second perk available that offer a direct counter to each other. While there’s one that increases explosive damage you dish out, there’s another that decreases the explosive damage received.
Messing around with the different custom setups is a lot of fun and experimenting with new load outs brings a recurring level of freshness to the game. Each match plays very differently than the last depending on how you’re equipped and something as simple as changing your body type or putting on roller skates will change your entire strategy and experience.
The two maps in the game are “Crime Alley” and “Amusement Mile” and they both offer a much different type of match in any game mode. Crime Alley has a lot of long open streets which work great for sniper characters, but also offers a few indoor areas and close quarters opportunities thanks to the various cars and trucks littered about breaking up the environment. Amusement Mile on the other hand is much more wide open, with a few tight indoor sections splitting the map in half.
Map design can make or break an otherwise excellent online shooter and I think the team behind Gotham City Impostors did an excellent job.
One of the first comparisons people make upon seeing the game in action is to call the game “Team Fortress 2 with Batman” and while that’s not entirely correct it really does feel like that game in a lot of ways, which is nothing but the highest of compliments. While the most obvious relation is that the characters vary in size and speed in exactly the same way, no weapons are restricted to any one weight class though there are some differences. For example you can use a heavy machine gun with a light character if you wish, but it’ll slow you down.
But after getting some good hands-on time with the game I’ve found the true comparison to Team Fortress 2: fun. No matter what’s happening and if I’m losing or not I was always having a good time and never found myself frustrated or calling BS when I get killed which is rare for an online shooter. The weapons, perks and characters all feel well balanced and variety is the spice of life. Even when the game freaked out and put me on a team with one other person against a full team of six I was still having a blast and actually wound up MVP that round.
One very popular trend in modern shooters that almost feels like a requirement at this point is some kind of persistent advancement and reward system, and I’m pleased to say that Gotham City Impostors has nailed that as well. As you level up you receive unlock keys for the various items in the custom character creation and can unlock weapons, mods for those weapons, perks, gadgets and equipment in whatever order you desire once you have a key.
Clothing is done similarly in that you can purchase any piece whenever you want, however these are done with the in-game “Costume Coin” currency. You receive a few coins after each match depending on your performance. I’ve noticed around eight at the lowest and upwards around 40 on some of my better games. Costume pieces range in price from 40 and 80 on the bottom end, around 400 in the middle and upwards of 1,000 for a few of the more showy pieces.
For those of you that are a bit more impatient I’ve noticed in the unlock menu that you’ll be able to purchase anything you’d like using Microsoft Points which of course are purchased with real life money. The option doesn’t actually exist at this point so I can’t say anything regarding pricing, but if I’m going to be honest I have absolutely no problem with this. If you have the money to throw around and can’t wait to level up and get the piece of gear you want, by all means buy it. No skin off my back.
Gotham City Impostors is one of the funnest online shooters I have played in a very long time, and I VERY eagerly anticipate the full release. However in it’s current state a few problems do exist, mostly server and connection related. While there aren’t a lot of players online right now sometimes it can take awhile to find a full room, and the game will occasionally disconnect in a match or while trying to load one up.
Of course it must be stated that it IS a beta, and a semi-closed one at the moment as well. I’ve certainly noticed the connections improve today as opposed to how they were when I played on Friday night, and hopefully whatever is causing this problem gets sorted out as soon as possible so I can spend even more time enjoying the game.
Despite the problems, I’m still having a blast in every single match I play. I find myself eagerly anticipating getting the next unlock key and a little glimmer of excitement as I complete one of the in-game challenges and get one step closer to unlock a custom camo. Provided a strong community flocks to the game, I can see myself playing this one for a very long time.