Gotham City Impostors - hands-on preview

Gotham City Impostors is weird. Not in a bad way necessarily, because it’s a perfectly solid shooter, but it’s certainly going to have to justify its existence to a lot of Batfans out there. After all, why put out a Batman game without Batman?!

The fact that I don’t have an answer makes my ultra-brief demo somewhat difficult to wrap my head around… especially since the game is a remarkably smooth, highly playable FPS almost in spite of its goofy facade. Gotham City Impostors plays and looks so impressively, I almost forgot it was a downloadable title. That’s undoubtedly due to being developed by Monolith Productions, the team behind the F.E.A.R. and Condemned franchises. However, a more notable pedigree is they also made No One Lives Forever, one of the very few truly funny games ever to be released. Once I was reminded of that, I started to succumb to Gotham City Imposters’ wack-tastic charm.

What initially seemed like a bizarre and unnecessary premise, started to make a little more sense. Think about it: In Arkham City, you’re surrounded by a bunch of low level lunatics, like wannabe Jokers. In the opening of The Dark Knight, Christian Bale disposes of a gaggle of copycat vigilantes. Now put those two factions against one another, throw in the tongue-in-cheek flavor of a Bizarro Comic, and the whole concept should mesh a little better after you realize even Batman can have a sense of humor about himself.

Once the nerdy skepticism went away, I started enjoying Gotham City Impostors on the same level of some of my other favorite DLC multiplayer titles. Think Battlefield 1943, or more appropriately, Monday Night Combat. I dunno… maybe it’s something about the smaller file size, but I tend to end up investing more in downloadable competitive games than disc releases. Perhaps it’s because it’s less of a monetary investment so it doesn’t matter as much if I suck. GCI certainly seems like one of those games I could just lose myself in simply because it’s so frantic and ridiculous.

That’s one of the strange things about the game. Those wacky characters are not TF2 classes, or endowed with unique attributes, but rather customized, comic posers that can use any weapon and ability. I picked the body type of what I can only describe as a buxom cheerleader, then got to tailor her ramshackle outfit in whatever fashion I saw fit. Do I want to be a long-eared Batlady, or a shorter-cowl wearing, classic knockoff hero? Better still, I couldn’t help but smile once I got to pick my Bat emblem. Hmmm, do I go with the crudely patch worked Tim Burton logo, or wear a rusty Dark Knight symbol around my neck like a ghetto medallion? I actually laughed out loud once I found myself taking cover behind a homebrewed Batmobile, that was essentially an old clunker outfitted with cardboard wings and a hand painted Bat logo, for what looked like an effort to recreate Adam West’s classic ride using only items found around the house.

The weapons are equally absurd, yet incredibly useful, and I was only scratching the surface in a single mode of Fumigation (basically a tug-of-war of base capturing with a more confined map that maintains a consistent level of intensity). Sure, my BatBarbie had a standard automatic assault rifle to get the job done, but she also had a kickass lock-on boomerang, as well as an amazing “grapple gun,” (which appeared to be hastily assembled largely from a fishing rod) that allowed me to zip up to the top of buildings as efficiently as Bruce Wayne.

PVC pipe rocket launchers, bear traps, hell – small fitness trampolines litter the environment so players shoot themselves into the air, on rooftops, as well as glide around assuming you have the appropriate cape equipped. Again, every weapon is available to everyone, so only your progress will dictate how much XP you gain and what you unlock. I was skeptical about Gotham City Impostors, but now I’m just intrigued, and want to see more before the game hits Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and PC next year.

Aug 27, 2011