When Monolith and Warner Bros. Interactive announced Gotham City Impostors, many gamers were left with quizzical looks on their faces. Even die-hard Batman fans couldn’t believe a video game was being adapted from such an obscure comic book storyline. Funnily enough, this little turf war between regular citizens taking up the cowl and clown make-up actually makes for a pretty fun game. Gotham City Impostors may not do much we haven’t seen before, but the few new wrinkles, cartoony sensibilities, and loads of customization options make this game a vigilante’s dream come true.
Gotham City Impostors is mostly a multiplayer affair, and save for the tutorial and a decent helping of challenges, you’ll find yourself teamed with like-minded individuals on a quest for justice or anarchy. Whether you find yourself on the Batz or the Jokerz, your goal will always be the same: beat the other team. All three of Gotham City Impostors’ game modes are team-based. Team Deathmatch makes a contractually obligated appearance, and is joined by Fumigation (a spin on Call of Duty’s Domination) and Psych Warfare (a take-off of Sabotage).
Fumigation finds you vying for control of three gas canisters on a given map, and once your team manages to fill the imaginary quota, the opposing team will all die of either a bat swarm attack or Joker nerve toxin. Psych Warfare will have you hunting down a battery to charge a speaker system. Once charged, the opposition loses all their weapons for a short time, allowing for some easy kills. Three modes may not sound like a lot, especially considering how similar they are to other competitive shooter offerings. However, Impostors more than makes up for the lack of innovation with a slew of new weapons and gadgets, which can be customized to your liking.
There are a decent amount of weapon offerings in the game. Every loadout allows you to have one main weapon (with a modification), a secondary armament (with a modification), a gadget, and a support item. The standard machine guns, rifles, sniper rifles, etc. all show up, but these weapons are far from fancy. Everything in the game has an air of homemade to it, which is even more obvious once you get a look at the gadgets and support items. While you could just slap on a hubcap for body armor, or arm yourself with a hatchet from the hardware store, there are some much more unique and interesting support items to play around with, like the “Airspace Denier” (a garden gnome with an upward firing Taser) or the “Trap-in-a-Box” (a Jack-in-the-box with a dynamite surprise).
You’ll also get a kick out of the weekend warrior gadgets. Built with all the stability of that swingset your dad built in one night to surprise you on your birthday, items like the glider rig, grapple gun, and spring boots make traversing any of the game’s five maps a vastly different experience. They also expand the standard foot soldier mentality in the first-person shooter by allowing you to skate, glide around, and scale buildings for new vantage points. In fact, there are no ladders, but there are trampolines and ramps.
Like many modern shooters, Gotham City Impostors has an experience system in which players level up to earn new items and perks. Perks are called Fun Facts here, but run the standard gamut of giving a player more health, or the ability to deal more damage. You can also earn Rampages, which are short-term bonuses akin to kill streaks. Almost every time you level, you’ll unlock at least one new item, perk, or character loadout slot. What’s great is that you can unlock any weapon or mod whenever you have the chance. Players aren’t limited to “low level” weapons or gadgets as they advance - you really can tailor your character to suit your play style almost immediately. You will have to level up a bit before you’re allowed to break free from the stock classes presented, but by then you’ll have a good idea about how to spend your unlocks.
Performing better in matches will also earn you costume coins, which can then be used to further customize your Batz or Jokerz gang member. Costume coins are dolled out a little slowly, and this is compounded by the hefty price tag on many of the completely superfluous accoutrements. You can buy these items with actual money, but players with patience will be better off.
Unfortunately, not everything is working at the optimal level just yet for Gotham City Impostors. Matchmaking is frequently lopsided, and will pit whole scores of highly rated players against newcomers. What’s more, the matchmaking will often change the teams a second time just before the match starts. Whether that’s an issue with the players available to choose from when creating a match or just a glitch is moot. It’s an issue that may turn away people from playing long enough at the onset to really see what the game has to offer once you settle in. Additionally, the game will occasionally make every game mode into Deathmatch, even if you have selected the other options. The voiceover will still use cues from the other types of modes, but you won’t be able to get any batteries, or even see any gas canisters. It doesn’t happen often, but it will happen.
That Gotham City Impostors turned out as good as it did shouldn’t surprise you. Monolith has a proven track record, even if this game’s subject matter was a bit off the beaten track. It’s not without its flaws, but the good definitely outweighs the bad. The action is fast-paced, the combat is smooth, and the new twists on familiar FPS tropes really do make Gotham City Impostors a game worth playing. Even if it is just to pretend to be a backyard Batman for a few nights.