Gotham City Impostors Review
Some mashups seem created by the gods themselves. Like, say, Brazilian pizza, or the ODB’s ‘Got Yer Money’ mashed with Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. And some things are smashed together and just don’t quite work. Perhaps it’s that two great things are diminished upon being combined with one another. Or perhaps it’s because it’s hard to figure out the point. Either could be the case with Monolith Productions’ Gotham City Impostors, a multiplayer-only first person shooter set in the Batman universe.
It has fast-paced violence, customizable characters, weapons and funny gadgets, and an unrelentingly goofy sense of humor. And it’s a lot of fun. But Gotham City Impostors’ pleasures are largely transitory, and they fade fast. Worse, it does everything but mug you to drain you of every cent it can. What you’re left with is a game that feels like a dozen other shooters you’ve played, minus the content, one that doesn’t seem to have a reason to exist other than that the concept sounds kind of cool, and one that ultimately fails to split the difference between free to play and full price.
Gotham City Impostors: Xbox Live, PSN, PC (reviewed)
Developer: Monolith Productions
Released: February 7, 2012
There is no story to Gotham City Impostors, save the concept: Batman has left for unspecified Bat reasons; filling the void are two warring gangs of fanboys battling for supremacy on Gotham’s mean streets. One team, the Bats, wear hilariously crappy Bat symbols on their chest and terrible makes, supposedly fighting for good and justice and stuff. The other team, the Jokerz, take the opposing position. Each team tries to kill each other deader than disco with guns and gadgets. And that’s it.
Gotham City Impostors is strictly multiplayer of the team and class based variety. Membership in either faction is determined randomly at the start of every match. Battles take place over 5 separate, small maps based on Gotham locations from the Batman comics, including Crime Alley (where Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed. Respect, yo). Battle types are the usual mixture of FPS multiplayer modes, and they’re fun and silly. But as they’re functionally similar to many, many other shooter multiplayer modes, GCI depends on laughs to make up the slack. That’s accomplished by the goofy twists: the game’s three modes are standard Team Deathmatch, a mode called Psych Warfare where you and your team look for batteries to power propaganda machines for your team, and Fumigation, which is like capture the flag but with poison gas canisters.
The small size of the maps is also a plus. Camping isn’t really possible, and you would have to make an effort to have one of those annoying games where you spend lost minutes just looking for your opponents. Also welcome is the verticality of GCI. Instead of simply running around shooting and killing your enemies, the maps have trampolines, ramps, passages, and you start out with an awesome grappling hook that can get you quickly out of any jam you find yourself stuck in. It makes for some fairly creative play, and is a ton of fun to use. These elements keep things frenetic and chaotic, which fits the setting and ramps up the goofy hardcoreness.
The game’s customization features, available as you level up, are also pretty decent. For your character, you can choose from a range of options like hairstyles, clothing and body types, you can expand your personal armory with weapons and weapons upgrades, and get keen gadgets like proximity mines. Better, when you earn a new upgrade purchase, you get to pick from all available upgrades. No more having to settle for a new pistol while you’re getting smoked by someone who long ago leveled up to a rocket launcher, you can spend points how you want, whenever you’re able.
The controls also function exactly like any other FPS you’ve played, and this is apparently true for all platforms. If you’ve played FPS games, you will pick up GCI’s basics without any problem. What this means is that ultimately, the game comes off like a cross between Team Fortress and Call of Duty. Not a bad thing at all, though you are going to grow bored quickly.
The reason for this is that there isn’t that much to do. Three modes of multiplayer play, 5 maps, some extremely slim single player content that is, at best, a means of practicing the control scheme. You’ll exhaust practically everything the game has to offer within hours. But even this isn’t that bad: many gamers love nothing more than to while away hours simply shooting for the sake of enjoying a good shooter. The problem is that the game’s goodies are doled out by an incredibly frustrating leveling up and upgrades system. First and foremost this system renders tactical play moot. Every class gets every type of upgrade and weapon, which really blurs distinctions between them. But GCI’s most egregious problem is that despite costing you $15 to purchase, they nickel and dime you at every turn.
They do this first by severely slowing down the means by which you naturally level up. In order to unlock options, you basically have to unlock the option to unlock it, then unlock that options specific slot, then once unlocked, you have to continue earning points to purchase whatever you’ve purchased the right to purchase. It’s convoluted to the extreme, and made worse by the fact that you earn points slowly, but then Monolith has the nerve to sell DLC upgrades on character customization options for outrageous prices. (Check out the XBLA list here.) And you’re constantly nagged to buy this DLC, which only makes it worse.
With every passing moment, you’re faced with a game that is somewhat fun, somewhat funny and somewhat satisfying, only for whatever merits it has to be ruined by constant attempts to squeeze ever more money out of you. Frankly, to charge players through the nose for a game they’ve already paid for is a rip off, just for minor character customization options, is kind of a rip off.
Gotham City Impostors is kind of fun for a few hours, and it’s pretty hilarious at times. The violence is pretty great and the maps, though small and few, encourage creative, fast paced play. Customization is also great, theoretically. But it quacks and flies like a Free to Play game, yet costs 15 bucks. If this doesn’t bug you, by all means, buy away. The rest of you might want to wait until they finally adopt a F2P model outright.
Violence, and plenty of it
Maps are small, encouraging fast-paced battles
Tiny number of maps
Plays like most other shooters
Players are nickeled and dimed on leveling up and DLC
Looks and acts like F2P but still requires up front purchase
No reason for long term time investment