You can forgive Warner Bros. for wanting to milk the Batman license a bit; with the massive success of both the Chris Nolan films and the Rocksteady games, it would be foolish not to try and get a few extra miles out of the franchise. So is Gotham City Impostors a blatant cash in, or does it bring something new to Gotham? Well, luckily it is more of the latter.
The most noticeable thing about Gotham City Impostors is that it is a Batman game that doesn’t actually star Batman. Both Batman and The Joker have taken a well-deserved break, and it is up to the impostors to duke it out across Gotham. You will be automatically placed in Team Bats or Team Jokerz and your goal is to beat the other team. Simple!
Gotham City Impostors is an online FPS, with very little in the way of single player components. There is an initiation level, which takes you through the basics. I recommend going through, as it not only shows you how the gadgets work, but also gives you an achievement for completion. There is also a single player section where you can compete in challenges to earn XP and medals. These challenges often revolve around making use of the gadgets and require you to complete objectives within a time limit. That’s it for single player. Everything else is multiplayer focused, so if you were hoping for a single player campaign, I am sorry to disappoint you.
The multiplayer is what Gotham City Impostors is all about, and it’s the gameplay that really shines here. Monolith have been very clever here by creating something that is completely recognisable to gamers as an FPS, but at the same time, offers something few other games of this type do. I am not going to bore you with the core of the game, it is the same as all other FPS’s, point your gun at the other team and shoot. Where Impostors differs is in its style, execution and invention. The game is littered with fantastic and humorous Batman references; there is even a reference to Shark Repellent Spray, if you can spot it.
The game follows the standard progression system that we are familiar with. You start out with some preset loadouts, and as you progress up the levels, more loadout slots, gadgets and weapons can be unlocked. Impostors stands out against most other FPS games in the way you level up. Where they reward you with XP when you make a kill, perform an assist or help out teammates, Impostors also rewards you when you land a shot on your opponent. So, even if you don’t make the kill, you will get XP for hitting your targets, as well as the assist bonus. This means that even after a poor match, you still can rack up plenty of XP.
With each level up comes some kind of bonus. It could be an unlock for a weapon, a gadget, a perk or even points to customize your character. There is always a sense of reward with every level. Most things are locked from the start, but there is no specific order in which items are unlocked. Once you have earned an unlock point, you can use it on any of the items it refers to. That way, you can focus on the stuff that you want to play about with, instead of the game dictating when you unlock all of the good stuff.
Weapons are the standard affair, with a small selection in each category. There are Pistols, LMG’s, Assault Rifles, Shotguns and SMGs, along with sniper weapons and rocket launchers. Nothing too fancy, but some of them have their own quirky design and feel, which falls in line with the rest of the game’s aesthetic.
However, it is the gadgets that really make the game stand out. As you can imagine, the average Joe cannot afford the kind of equipment that Bruce Wayne can load himself up with. Therefore, they have had to come up with cheap and inventive ways to out fox the enemy. These gadgets are primarily used to navigate the maps quickly and range from a grappling hook made from a whisk, to roller skates that give you a speed boost when you launch from a ramp.
The initiation level gives you instructions on how these gadgets work and they all have their own little advantages. I did find that some of them are more helpful than others, and I ended up settling on the grappling hook. It will all depend on your personal play style. There is also the obligatory ’Perks’ unlocks, but in Impostors these are called ’Fun Facts About Me’. You can have two ’Facts’ active in each loadout, and these give you bonuses during matches; from faster health regen to giving you the ability to ’smell’ players on the opposing team. Once again, these have to be unlocked with points.
After you reach a certain level, character customization will also open up to you. These allow you to unlock different body types, which can affect the way you play. Larger body types soak up more bullets, but are a bigger target, while smaller types move faster and are harder to hit but trade off with lower health. There really are a ton of options for you to work through.
However, it isn’t all sunshine and smiles when it comes to kitting out your character. Warner Bros. have made a sly move with the costumes in Impostors by trying to encourage you to pay real money, on top of the $15 you have already shelled out for the game. With every game you play, you earn gold (normally only a small amount); this gold can then be spent on clothing items for your character. Clothing costs start at about 80 gold, but can go up to the 400/800 mark. This would take you an absolute dog’s age to earn enough gold. So they have kindly given you the option to purchase gold with real money. This is a dirty little trick that is often reserved for ’Freemium’ online games. However, seeing as you had to pay for the game, it is a practice that must not be encouraged.
There is also the issue of the amount of modes available to play, just three: Team Deathmatch, Fumigation (similar to a sabotage mode) and Psych Warfare (CTF). Although the modes are given a unique take on FPS standards, there are just not enough of them. Three modes for a game that is almost all multiplayer may end up getting boring.
The real issue, though, is actually getting into a game. The servers struggled on every occasion to get me into a lobby on all three modes. Even then, it normally takes over 4 minutes to fill the lobby with enough people to actually start a match. It also has a problem with matching players of a similar skill level together. The very first game that I played had been in a lobby with several people over level 20. As the only way to really learn how to play this game is online, they should really find a way to match players under level 10 together. That way, you are not going to get slaughtered by teams that are hardened veterans. Hopefully this is something that can be improved with a future patch, but at the time of writing this, it is an annoying frustration.
Gotham City Impostors really is a fantastic use of the Batman License, with some unique and clever variants on a popular game genre. But the continuing attempt to part you from more money and the server/matchmaking issues really drag the game down. Impostors does have some free DLC in the pipeline, and with the possibility of game fixes in the future, this may be a game that shines more and more as time goes by.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.