Review: Gotham City Impostors

GothamCityImpostors

What happens when you take the basic model of cops vs. robbers, toss in a pinch of comic book lore, sprinkle on a dash of micro transactions, stir in a smattering of guns, and gently fold until all is blended?  You get Gotham City Impostors.  Monolith Production’s latest title, published by Warner Bros. Interactive, supposes that a city already defended by one masked vigilante, fighting off the crowned jester of crime, could easily have gangs that are willing to dress up as their favorite hero of villain and continue the good fight whenever the real deal isn’t around.

Playing through the brief tutorial section, the game establishes the premise that good-natured citizens of Gotham City want to take up crime fighting when Batman isn’t around, and what better way to do so than by dressing up in Caped Crusader fashion.  Of course, these gangs of pseudo-superheroes don’t have the funding for the best weapons or armor and thus have to resort to less honorable means to defeat the gangs of Jokerz.  Both sides battle it out in either Team Deathmatch, Fumigation, or Psychological Warfare matches of 6-vs-6 across five different maps.  Additionally, there are single player challenges which, when completed, add experience points and medals which can then be applied to the multiplayer unlock system.

Since the game is solely focused on multiplayer, Monolith has built an extensive challenge and perk system throughout the entire game.  Custom loadouts, which allow players to build specific loadouts to fit their own style of play, unlock every few levels.  Specific to loadouts is the ability to select body types, ranging from fast, low health, and “Speedy” all the way to “Mighty”, which slows movement speed but enables the player to carry heavy gear and take more damage before going down.  Players can also adjust the face type and voice type.  While these customizations don’t offer any specific benefit during gameplay, the option to change them out is a nice touch.  Further customizations include selecting a main weapon, backup weapon, a support item and finally a gadget.

Support items introduce some of the crazier additions not typically found in a competitive first-person shooter. Bear traps, Boomerangs and Airspace Denier are just a few that can really change the pace of a game. Bear Traps can snag and slow down an enemy to set them up for easier kills.  Boomerangs allow for multiple targets to be selected and hit for a stun or potential kill if a target’s health is low enough.  The Airspace Denier is effective at temporarily preventing players from using the Glider Rig gadget to soar across the map.

Gadgets are similar to Support items but offer different benefits.  The Glider Rig, as mentioned, allows a player to hit an updraft and glide through the air.  Once airborne, players can quickly move from one section of the map to the next, or if an enemy is spotted they can be dive bombed for a kill.  The mechanic for gliding is easy and effortless and is one of my favorite parts of the game.  I may not be at the top of the leaderboards at the end of each match because I tend to have more fun just flying around than actually scoring kills, but the sensation of flying is easily one of the best parts of the game.  

Other gadgets include a Grapple gun which allows players to handcrank their way across the map or reach higher ground in a hilariously cheap knock off version of Batman’s actual grapple gun.  Spring Boots and Inflatable Insoles both offer players a chance to bounce to higher spots but are triggered in different ways. While both can be useful, to me they weren’t nearly as fun to use as the Glider Rig.  Rollerskates, Targeting Goggles and Ninja Smoke Bombs make up the rest of the Gadgets that can be unlocked.  Each Gadget provides their own advantage, but as with any balanced competitive shooter there are limits or cool downs that apply, adding a layer of strategy that gives players a plethora of options during combat.

In addition to the customizable character models, weapons, support items and gadgets, Gotham City Impostors has an extensive challenge component.  The challenges are comprised of timed events that are available as single player off-line activities as well as cumulative actions that provide additional experience points toward leveling up.  The cyclical nature of the challenges is easily one of the best carrot on stick features I’ve seen employed in a first-person shooter as it feels like one “Feat of Prowess” is unlocked by the end of each match.  The depth of the challenges offers plenty to complete with each weapon, support item and gadget as they are unlocked, and upon leveling further game mode specific challenges unlock as well.

Now you may be thinking, why am I spending so much time discussing weapons, character customizations and challenges?  The reason is simple: there isn’t much else to the game.  Sure, the various game styles are fun, but only having three game modes and five maps can limit a player’s desire to fully explore the various play styles and custom character modifications that become available.  Fortunately, the gunplay feels good and the additional gadgets and support items can really add a different dynamic from match to match based on each opponent or teammate’s loadout.

During my time with Gotham City Impostors, I have run into a few performance issues.  The first issue is that of matchmaking. Finding a match typically doesn’t take much time, but I have had a fair share of games almost start, only to see all of the players on the list drop off, forcing me to sit and wait for the player list to re-populate again.  Another glitch I’ve seen from time to time (which is mostly due to the heavy player customization) is opponents appearing during the first few minutes of the match only as an orange outline of whichever body type each player has chosen.  The last major glitch I’ve encountered occurs when I have quit the game after playing for a few hours.  The game attempts to drop back to the XMB, and then my PS3 suddenly reboots.  All of these glitches could potentially be fixed with a patch, but at the same time they should’ve been fixed prior to the launch of the game. (Editor’s Note: That’s what the beta test was supposed to be for after all!)

While the glitches and matchmaking issues need smoothing out, Gotham City Impostors still is a fun game.  The humor, art style and overall gameplay work to make a fun competitive experience. Fans of the real Batman may want to go back to Arkham City or wait for the next LEGO Batman title to get their Dark Knight fix, however gamers who enjoy multiplayer first-person shooters and are looking for something outside of the usual gung-ho military settings should find Gotham City Impostors worth the $15. Given some of the performance issues and the slim mode and map lineup, though, this is definitely a game to demo first before committing to a purchase.

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Pros:
+ Highly customizable
+ Whimsy and humor are presented throughout

Cons:
– Glitches and faulty matchmaking can be frustrating
– Limited number of maps and match types

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3 via PSN; also available for PC and Xbox 360 via XBLA
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Monolith Productions
Release Date: PC – 2/6/2012, PSN – 2/7/2012, XBLA – 2/8/2012
Genre: Multiplayer First-Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-12
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.