Gotham City Imposters Review
Gotham City Imposters: an FPS with a cartoon style twist set in the comic-world of the Caped Crusader. On paper it’s a crazy idea, in reality its crazy squared.
Perhaps this is why Gotham City Imposters faired so mundanely in its review scores & initial reception. Not that it was butchered critically, a MetaCritic score of 71 is respectable, but the FPS genre is as crowded as it’s ever been and the big hitters with established licences will always dominate in sales and exposure.
Let me bring a revelation to the table: Gotham City Imposters is one of the purest examples of a multiplayer FPS. There are no attack helicopters or packs of rabid dogs. There are no tanks or fighter jets bringing the rain across gargantuan maps. Gotham City Imposters puts two teams in small to medium sized maps with a variety of gadgets, perks and weapons and says “Go and have a laugh, dude!” If Battlefield 3 is like an intense & brutal army training sim, then Gotham City Imposters is like a jungle-gym with spring-loaded sneakers instead of ball pools and slides. It’s the epitome of a fun, drop-in/drop-out experience.
Now, before you start sharpening your digital pitchforks I will admit I did give Gotham City Imposters a pretty blah score when I reviewed it earlier in the year. I certainly enjoyed my experience with it, but the turn-around time for a games journalist to get a competent and truly representative review to press can mean that sometimes, just sometimes a great game can be portrayed as a good or satisfactory one. I certainly stand by my score at the time, but sometimes a game deserves a second chance at redemption.
Gotham City Imposters is made for the type of person who a) has no experience of shooters and wants a short-but-sweet fun-time or b) experienced FPS players who have become bored and disenfranchised with the big hitters like Halo, Call of Duty and Battlefield. And by de facto, it sums up everything an XBLA, straight-to-hard drive game should be. Gotham City Imposters is as arcade an FPS title you will play outside of Team Fortress 2.
So what’s so good about this game then? The answer is simple: the gadgets. As you start to level up you can purchase a whole shebang of power-ups and gadgets that will totally change the way you approach each map and match type. Perhaps you’re all about close quarters kills so a pair of roller skates acts like a permanent sprint whilst adding a kitana-style sword will let you slash your way to a blood-drenched kill count. Maybe you’re all about assault, so a mix of body armour, a rocket launcher and a blunderbuss that fires parrots will wet your whistle? Any weapon combination is allowed between your primary or secondary slots, so you can mix & match until you’ve found a load-out that suits your play style.
Gadgets like the glide wings that let use air vents to glide around the map dive-bombing enemies, whilst the grappling hook will snatch you out of danger or across the map to a pesky enemy player. The trampolines, roller-skate ramps and air-vents make Gotham City Imposters very much a vertical affair. Players fly across the screen in every direction, turning the tables on their foes or winging their way from harm. Monolith has designed this game to embrace the fictional ridiculousness of comic books, so eating beans to create clouds of toxic gas will start to feel as normal as calling in a UAV in another game.
Being a solely multiplayer affair, developer Monolith let you customise your ‘Batz’ or ‘Jokerz’ vigilante to your hearts content. Lobbies cycle teams between each side so you can purchase various apparel via unlock tokens (earned from in-game performances) to pimp out your hero/villain avatar. The mixture of body types will also help you approach the play styles of other players. Larger classes will be slower but will soak up more bullets whilst smaller types will be nimble on their feet and hard to hit but will have little health to start with. Setting up a variety of loud-outs for different enemy behaviours is a strategy for world domination.
This game does still have its issues, ones that no amount of dedicated sessions or loving devotion will take away. The ballistic weapons are pretty unvaried, the only difference between rifles, SMGs & LMGs being the rate of fire and the reload time. CQC weapons like shotguns can inflict damage from a long distance and the sniper rifles are woefully clunky. Standard melee strikes inflict little if no damage unless you’re the heaviest class type and your enemy is a sneeze away from kicking the bucket. Strip away the gadgets and comedic add-ons and you’re left with a basic FPS set up that would have looked plain 10 years ago.
But it’s not the composite parts that make Gotham City Imposters such an addictive gaming experience; it’s every ethos the developers were shooting for, every fun gadget that changes your experience and every ridiculous line of dialogue that blur together to make something incredibly stupid and utterly satisfying all at the same time. Suspend your fan-boyism for Halo, Call of Duty and Battlefield for a weekend and dive face-first into Gotham City Imposters. You might feel dirty afterwards, but you’ll be grinning like a mad bastard all the same.
Gotham City Imposters is available on PSN, XBLA and on PC via Games for Windows now.