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Gotham City Impostors

Posted on December 27, 2011 AT 11:10am

Not so serious…

Remember that scene in The Dark Knight where Batman puts the hurt on a handful of wannabe Caped Crusaders, who insist on brandishing faux Bat-costumes and doing the whole vigilante thing in his image? Amp that up a few degrees and throw in a healthy dose of cartoony, super-exaggerated antics, and you get Monolith Productions’ upcoming team-based first-person shooter, Gotham City Impostors. Opposing teams of Batz and Jokerz clash at the fringes of Gotham City—utilizing the finest in jury-rigged gadgetry to beat each other to proper pulps.

If your first thought is “this kinda sounds like Team Fortress 2,” you’re on roughly the right track. Gotham City Impostors embraces its own sort of goofy, tongue-in-cheek style that isn’t too far removed from Valve’s wildly successful shooter, with over-the-top character and weapon designs that look like they’d be right at home in a CGI-animated feature film. But where Team Fortress 2 revolves around a fairly rigid class-based dynamic, Gotham City Impostors empowers you to custom-design whatever sort of role you want to play.

For me, that role choice is a simple one: I’m the healer. Truth be told, I suck at first-person shooters; bereft of a lock-on mechanic, I can’t aim a gun (or a grenade launcher, for that matter) to save my life. So, when I sat down with Gotham City Impostors at a recent press event, I went straight for a support loadout, which mostly consisted of a giant megaphone—dubbed the Motivator—with the power to heal teammates and bestow armor buffs. Sure, it lacked the oomph of my trusty Team Fortress 2 Medic (with no übercharge-style invincibility meter in sight), but it also kept me from bringing up the rear on the local postgame leaderboards. The lack of predefined silhouettes definitely kept me on my toes, though, as I encountered giant, Motivator-toting behemoths as often as I did lanky, rocket-launcher-packing killers. The mixing and matching of body types with weapon loadouts means you never know what to expect here.

On the surface, Gotham City Impostors’ game modes are everything you would expect from the average FPS—that is, team deathmatch, control points, and capture the flag—though Monolith’s oddball vision of Gotham City is anything but typical. Batz and Jokerz glide around Gotham’s slums and docks on rollerskates, bounce off of trampolines, zip between rooftops via grappling lines, and pummel each other with homemade firearms. Pound an enemy, and he gets served with your custom-made calling card as the respawn timer ticks down; win the day, and precious experience points get you that much closer to the next level (and that next weapon unlock).

As is all the rage in modern FPS games, you gradually earn in-game currency to purchase weapons and costume pieces. Since you can tailor your loadout toward any kind of role you want, it doesn’t take long to acquire a comfortable ass-kicking setup. Unlockable cosmetic pieces—which cover costumes, various Bat-symbols and Joker makeup patterns, additional calling-card designs and catchphrases, and interchangeable voice clips—are the real carrots at the end of the leveling stick, to the extent that Monolith’s wisely capitalizing on player impatience via an optional microtransaction-based system (limited to aesthetic-only fare, of course). Just prepare to pay more (whether with in-game currency or real-world cash) for the skimpier costume options: As one Monolith spokesperson put it, “the more naked you want to be, the more it costs to unlock.”

All told, Gotham City Impostors is a wild idea, and one that I suspect will find a loyal audience in short order. Considering that this game comes from the same design team that created The Operative: No One Lives Forever (which the developers have dubbed Gotham City Impostors’ spiritual predecessor), the wacky art style and unconventional sense of humor are both well-executed and somehow supremely appropriate, in spite of the grim-and-gritty source material. As depressing as Gotham City may be in the comics and movies, these gangs of phonies turn it into a funhouse.

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