I’m Batman…and so are you
Loosely based off DC Comics’ Detective Comics #867-870, Gotham City Impostors thrusts you into a Gotham gone mad where the majority of the populous has either taken up the mantle of Gotham’s Guardian, Batman, or the constant acid-dipped thorn in his side, the Joker, and you have decided to join in on the chaos. But, even if you’re not familiar with that story arc, you’re still likely to have a lot of fun as this online versus multiplayer shooter has had so much comic-book infused personality injected into it that it has the potential to become as addictive and as popular as games like Team Fortress.
Now many of you out there are probably wondering how guns and Batman would work, but Monolith brilliantly also inserted an “Initiation” mission that will allow you to not only get used to the smooth controls should you choose to play it (as well as it unlocks an achievement), but also explains why the Batz and Jokerz use the weapons that they do. Quite simply, Joe the Plumber doesn’t have the bank that Bruce Wayne has to use the moral high ground of non-lethal weapons. Whereas a PVC Pipe Rocket Launcher sounds a lot more pliable for Joe. And for those slow times when there may not be as many people online, the game also features a single-player Challenges mode that allows players to really hone their skills with their various weapons and tools before jumping right into the fray and for which they can earn extra experience to level up with.
The meat of the game though revolves around the online play. Much like any other online versus multiplayer out there, you gain experience for winning matches and performing a variety of kills out on the field and when you gain experience, you unlock new customization features, weapons, and accessories. Some of the best stuff can be a bit of a grind weapons-wise, but should you feel more inclined to drop some extra cash, you can perform some micro-transactions for different costume items should making your Batz or Jokerz look just the way you want be a priority as well. Same goes for your “Calling Card”, the custom image your foes see when you kill them along with a taunting one-liner. You can buy backgrounds inspired by the comic work of artists like Jim Lee or more cartoony versions of some already available backgrounds to truly bring your unique style to the game.
You can also customize a load out and this is where the game starts to differentiate itself really. You have an assortment of guns and pistols with Batman and Joker style ornaments, but the gadgets are unlike anything seen before in this genre. Glider kits allow you to hover after jumping off high points or ride up open ventilation shafts and then dive bomb onto unsuspecting foes and your grappling hook can have you racing across an entire level in no time if you get the right vantage point. Roller skates give you a huge speed boost and let you trick off ramps and spring boots give you twice as much jumping power.
All this flair and polish though can also be seen as a distraction from some of the game’s flaws. Although the levels are very well designed and offer some frantic action, there are only five of them and so it can get repetitive at times knowing you’ll end up at only one of five locations, even if they are some of Gotham’s most iconic in Ace Chemical, Amusement Mile, Crime Alley, Gotham Power, and The Docks.
There are also only three play modes once you go online. First, there is your standard Team Deathmatch with up to six people on a team. Then, there is a mode called Fumigation, which is basically like Capture the Point. You and your team must try to control three special gas emitters and the person who pollutes the atmosphere 100% with their special concoction first wins the match. The final mode is Psychological Warfare and is very much like Capture the Flag. You’re objective is to take a randomly spawned car battery and attached it to a bevy of speakers that will pump negative propaganda into the brains of your enemies. This will render them unable to use their weapons for 30 seconds and the team who can trigger the propaganda the most in a time-limit wins.
So, when you strip away the fancy gadgets and customization features, the game is your standard run-of-the-mill online versus multiplayer shooter, but it handles so well and looks good enough that if you are a fan of the genre then the Batman flair gives you just enough of a difference from the standard fare for these kinds of games to be enjoyable and worth going back to should Monolith continue to support it down the line with some new maps and modes.
SUMMARY: Gotham City Impostors looks and feels great and adds just enough personality to differentiate it from the crowd of similar online multiplayer games.
- THE GOOD: Looks and feels great and is on par with most online versus shooter multiplayers out there
- THE BAD: Lack of maps and modes can shorten the experience
- THE UGLY: Fat guy in a little Joker-coat
Gotham City Impostors is available on Xbox 360 (XBLA) and PS3 (PSN). Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.