Review: Gotham City Impostors
Gotham City Impostors
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Review copy provided by the publisher
The journey from concept to release has been a strange one for Gotham City Impostors. The core concept of the game seems like an April Fool’s joke at first, and it really takes awhile for the truth to set in. Yes, this is a first person shooter based on the Batman universe. Yes, that makes absolutely no sense and, yes, it’s also as incredible as it sounds. From the outset it’s clear this is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and that works to it’s advantage nearly the entire time.
But, does Gotham City Impostors offer something to make it stand out from it’s peers? The first person shooter market is one of the most difficult to make a name for yourself in and it takes something truly special to build a lasting appeal. With Impostors offering only online content, will it be enough? The answer is yes, but read on to see why.
It must be stated outright that at its core Gotham City Impostors is a fairly standard team-based first person shooter. The closest thing it truly resembles is Team Fortress 2. However, rather than being class based it operates with a deep level of customization allowing you to pick and choose every aspect of your load-out which is where it truly stands apart from the crowd.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about the customization is, of course, the variety of different costumes available which is admittedly quite deep and very fun to mess around with, but that’s only scratching the surface. To be blunt the amount of depth to the character customization is insane, no pun intended.
While the basics of choosing your appearance and weapon loadout are there with their own unique twists the game actually allows you to choose your body type (with health, speed and acrobatic ability increasing/decreasing along with body size in contrast to each other).
Choosing the different body types give different advantages and disadvantages which all serve to balance each other out. While the smaller body is faster with a better jumping ability it also gets a speed decrease when carrying heavier weapons. Of course, you can still choose to use the weapons if you like, you’ll just lose all your advantages as well.
This sense of balance is present throughout the entire game, with everything having a good and bad reason to use it as well as something present to counteract it. One of the things you can customize are “Fun Facts” which act as special perks with unique abilities, and these all balance each other out greatly. For every one that increases damage (from bullets, knives and explosives) there’s another one that decreases damage from that same item.
The most unique aspect of Gotham City Impostors is present in the form of the various gadgets available for you to equip which drastically change the way you can traverse around the levels such as gliders which let you fly using trampolines and air vents, roller skates which make you faster, a grappling hook, etc. Depending on what you have equipped the portions of the level available to you are drastically different and completely changes the game.
In fact it’s the gadgets which make for the most compelling game-changer in Impostors, as death can come from you at any angle. You’re constantly having to keep an eye in the sky and on your surroundings, as you never know where your enemy is going to come from.
While the amount of freedom available in creating your class and loadout is a little overwhelming at first, as you continue to play it starts setting in just how truly balanced the game is. There’s no single loadout that completely dominates the playing field and, while everybody is going to have their personal preferences, none of the weapons give a significant advantage over the others in such a way as to make them unused.
The game has improved greatly since the beta as far as the connection issues and lag goes, but it’s not perfect. Sometimes it seems to have trouble finding a room, though whenever this happened I found that simply backing up and trying again fixed the problem, and it never took more than a minute to find a game. This will be fixed in an upcoming patch.
The art style of the game itself is very nice and perfectly matches the game’s strange balance between being a solid shooter and being absolutely insane, and it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to imagine characters like these existing in the Batman universe following in the steps of Batman and the Joker.
As for the titular hero and villain, they are both absent from the game in every way, which is of course why “The Bats” and “The Jokerz” have taken up their idols mantle in their absence. This is about the full extent of the story present in the game and although it’s very much an excuse plot, it does its job of setting up a basic reason as to why these people are dressed like Batman and the Joker and shooting each other. When the game is this much fun, you don’t need an excuse.
Gotham City Impostors is an ambitious title. Launching a multiplayer-only game is a tough sell in today’s market, where it’s hard to make a stand against the industry giants, but I think the team at Monolith have hit on something special here. I don’t know if it’s how bizarre the game is or how different it plays from anything else out there, but there’s something compelling about Gotham City Impostors that keeps bringing me back for more.
With a purported limit of over 1,000 levels (using the ability to reset/ “Prestige” at 100) and five great maps there’s already a lot here to keep you occupied and there’s already a set of free DLC coming in March that will be updating the matchmaking and adding more costume pieces, as well as another map. I hope the game continues to receive support and hold a strong player base, as it’s something I can see myself returning to for a long time to come.