Gotham City Impostors Review

Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 3

Also available on Microsoft Xbox 360

I think its safe to say that if you were to visit Gotham you’d probably be best staying indoors, online grocery shopping and getting one of those much advertised ‘work from home’ jobs. The world of Gotham City Impostors sees the would-be vigilantes ‘The Batz’ taking to the city streets to curb the danger of Jokers goons ‘The Jokerz’. Taking form as a 6v6 online shooter Gotham City Impostors doesn't take itself too seriously and rings more of Bruckheimer rather than Nolan, although without the potential to destroy a franchise.

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One of the main draws of Gotham City Impostors is the customisation of both characters and weapons, which is necessary as there are very few maps with very little originality to hold your interest. Characters and weapons can be upgraded through simple XP points and ‘costume coins’ that you gather up through completing rounds and reaching achievements. There is a sense of satisfaction when you see your roller-skate sporting, cape waving and paper bag over the head wearing character appearing on the top three leader-board. The warning here should be that you had better be prepared to slog your way through round after round to actually unlock anything as it can at times feel like the type of grind never associated with an FPS. There is a real need to choose your unlock/mod wisely as it may be a while until your next one, and even if you do unlock weapons you may be hampered early on with the lack of customisable load-out slots. I’m not quite sure what the thinking was behind not allowing a player to have numerous customisable slots from the off but it serves more as a frustration than a goal to achieve.

In terms of weaponry Gotham City Impostors does a fair job of giving the player some interesting, if not original, toys to play with. Regarding the simple issue of getting about the level you will be issued with a standard grappling hook which does exactly what you think it does, it can feel a bit cumbersome at first but before you know it you'll be zipping through the air before dropping to headstomp someone like it was second nature. You can upgrade to the likes of roller-skates for quicker movement and the ability to jump off ramps or capes that will allow you to take advantage of air-vents to launch you into the air allowing you to dive bomb enemies. It’s a nice variation on contemporary shooters, we haven’t really had a shooter implement the vertical fight since the likes of Shadowrun and Tribes. When it works it can be brilliant fun, fights are dynamic and interesting and finding the right loadout to suit your play can be an additive mix of trial and error, fun and frustration.

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There’s a very apparent dichotomy in design with Gotham City Impostors which feels frequently at odds with itself. On the one hand we have the Fallout-esque animated tutorial screens, that you will see on unlocking new weapons/gadgets, which have their tongue firmly in their cheek. However, aesthetically the characters have that Unreal Engine muscly, molded look when in truth you feel it should echo something more akin to Team Fortress 2 given its tone. It’s a minor quibble and while this design choice may have been to keep it in line to a degree with the excellent Arkham City, but the game by its core feels as far removed from Arkham City as it does from the cartoon humour it bathes in.

One area that the game excels in is that of the controls, consistently tight and intuitive you will feel in complete control whether you are in some close-quarters combat or gliding through the air. Once again because Gotham City Impostors is dancing to a tune that many have already written it is keenly aware of what works and what doesn’t. Everything on the joypad (PS3 copy reviewed) feels instinctively where it should be, it’s a simple thing but with so many combat options thrown into this mix a mishandling of this simple mechanic could have broken the game.

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There are a few different game modes in Gotham City Imposters to keep the would-be purveyors of peace or anarchy busy. First up is the bog-standard Team Deathmatch, pick a side and start to pummel the opposition and first to fifty kills or reaching the time limit will end the match, whichever comes first. It’s as frantic and chaotic as you would expect and with danger not just lurking around every corner but flying, grappling and at times being invisible you will have your work cut out to stay on top of it. It can be quite a daunting experience for the first time player, especially when the variable matchmaking can leave you in an unfamiliar arena with enemies with a wealth of gadgets and abilities that give them a serious advantage. It can be a bit overwhelming and frustrating but sticking with it will yield results.

The Fumigation game mode is essentially a push and capture mode, focusing the action on the successful capture of 3 gas machines. If one team captures all gas machines then a cloud will descend on the enemy that will inflict both death and a loss for the team. While it is relatively standard fare for this type of game it’s particularly good at focusing the action and strategy in a game that can sometimes feel like a relentless free for all. The third main mode is, and strap yourselves in for a surprise, a capture the flag type affair called Psychological Warfare. This mode is based around bringing a battery back and defending it as you pump out propaganda that will brainwash the opposing team. It’s a nice dressing around an old concept, there’s no surprises but it does what it does very well and serves to balance out the overall package. This pretty much sums up Gotham City Impostors for me, unoriginal but fun and exactly what you expect.

It’s hard to see where Gotham City Impostor’s future lies and where it can possibly go from here. With such a narrow scope regarding both maps and, to a degree, the weapons it feels like it is going to need frequent content to stay interesting as within a few hours play you will feel that you have pretty much seen everything even if you don’t have access to all the toys. It’s hard not to like Gotham City Impostors, it’s well made and has a polish not usually associated with downloadable titles. Yet it is held back from greatness by virtue of playing it safe, it’s not innovative, it’s not particularly interesting or good looking but it is fun. If you want a title you can happily dip in and out of then this is your man, don’t be expecting depth or originality but do expect many hours of fun but enjoy it while the novelty lasts.

Overall

6

out of 10

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