Gotham City Impostors isn’t the best Batman game we’ll ever get, but the somewhat simplistic nature of the game combined with action that is manageable results in a game that isn’t perfect or exemplary, but is just basic fun. While a little too reliant on micro-transactions and spending lots of time to unlock things via ranking, the action offered in the game isn’t too unbalanced and is slightly reminiscent of old arena based FPS games instead of the Perk heavy action of Modern Warfare. If you’re a Batman fan you may not be incredibly impressed with Gotham City Impostors since the Batman feel is simply superficial, but FPS gamers may get a kick out of the zany and twitch heavy action that is dished out.
+ The guns may not feel real-world accurate, but everything controls easily and no particular gun feels too cheap or overpowered.
+ Secondary abilities may take a long time to unlock, but they do add a nice balance to the game along with slightly boosting the effectiveness of your character.
+ Maps are designed perfectly and still have the unique spots that make a FPS game thrilling.
- Unlocking stuff the old-fashioned way takes a long, long time.
- The Batman angle of the game doesn’t feel pushed too far in relation to the maps, modes and weapons.
- Having only five maps and three game modes is a bit low, even for a $15 digitally distributed game.
- The existing game modes are fun, but they do become a bit predictable over time which could lead to people becoming burned out fast.
Over the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to play quite a few games, some of them months ahead before their eventual retail release. Most of the time when playing an early demo of a game I know what to expect so seeing a glitch or slightly rough gameplay element isn’t too alarming unless it’s so bad that the demo should have never been made public. Most of the time I would walk away from a demo session satisfied if not excited about what the future would hold. Sometimes I would be consistently disappointed after multiple play sessions at different events and Gotham City Impostors was such a game that left me awe struck in a not so good way.
After a somewhat odd showing at PAX Prime last year that is now infamous amongst the Shogun Gamer staff, my expectations for Gotham City Impostors were pretty damn low – in fact I honestly thought the game was a bit crap. So consider me surprised upon playing the full version of Gotham City Impostors as its good if not consistently entertaining enough make some of flaws not entirely obvious.
As many of you know by now Gotham City Impostors does the unthinkable by taking the Batman franchise into the setting of a first person shooter, thus showing once and for all that this generation loves their shooting games and publishers/developers are more than happy to fulfill that desire if it nets them a profit. I’ll admit that one of the big turnoffs for me about Gotham City Impostors was that it was a FPS and in the case of the game such a sentiment is pretty damning since that’s the core of the experience – shooting stuff under the guise of a Batman game. But after spending some considerable time with the game and tinkering with the various bonus features that are present I found myself in the odd position of actually getting a kick out of shooting would-be Batman or Joker vigilantes, even if the general Batman theme isn’t that strong.
For all intents and purposes, Gotham City Impostors is a game set in a general Batman universe that honestly isn’t defined that well and that’s one of my biggest issues with the game. Aside from having heroes and villains dressed up in homemade Batman and Joker attire, there’s really nothing to make the game feel like a true Batman experience of any kind outside of bonus items and certain design motifs that are minimal at best. Hell, there isn’t even a map set at night – you know when Batman is at its peak in the mood department and does his crime fighting thing.
Even the visuals really don’t nail the Batman look down as they’re presented in a realistic manner that honestly doesn’t have that much of a pop. The graphics are good for a downloadable title, though they are rough in some spots here and there like an abundance of aliasing. Now I won’t go into a geek a mass geek tirade as to what Gotham City Impostors should’ve done to inspire a mood more in line with Batman (there should’ve at least been some pop-up BAM! and POW! text here and there) as I honestly wasn’t expecting something similar to Batman: Arkham City since the game in the end is one filled with some old-school FPS action that manages to inject some personality if not true skill in an era that has all but been molded by Call of Duty.
Once I was able to get past my initial issues with the lack of a Batman mood and that I indeed was playing another FPS game, I noticed that there’s a good game under the cartoony and over-the-top surface that Gotham City Impostors presents. Strictly as a multiplayer experience that supports 6 vs. 6 matches, Gotham City Impostors stays true to some of the now established traits in the FPS genre such as having Perk like items and the ability to fully customize your character load out. I was a bit skeptical about how the Perks system, dubbed Fun Facts, would work or at least impact the gameplay but I was surprised at how well implemented and generally balanced it is.
A Psych Warfare match on the Docks level.
With the now standard XP ranking system in place, I was rewarded with new unlock keys upon hitting certain rank milestones that allowed me to acquire items like Quick Reflexes (weapons draw faster after sprinting) or Marksman (bullets do extra damage). At this point it may seem like Gotham City Impostors is just Call of Duty: Batman Edition but it’s honestly more like that. While the Fun Facts do add a slight bonus/performance boost to the general gameplay, I still found that most of the time matches and 1 vs. 1 encounters are won on skill as opposed to what weapons mod you have attached at that given moment.
The gun battle themselves don’t feel too outlandish since guns have a real world feel through the inclusion of shotguns and semi-automatics with the odd inclusion of a bow and arrow thrown in the mix, but the nature of the battles feel like an old-school twitch shooter with a slight Team Fortress 2 vibe. Equating the masterpiece that is Team Fortress 2 to Gotham City Impostors may sound like I’ve finally gone senile, but it does feel like that was the angle developer Monolith was going for albeit with a more in-your-face vibe and slightly faster gameplay to appeal to a console specific audience. Gotham City Impostors may not have much to offer on the weapons front, but it is loaded with enough gadgets to make the R&D department at Wayne Industries happy. Besides the grapple hook, which allows for quick transportation that at times reminds me of Bionic Commando, things like bouncy boots, wing gliders, and roller skates add a certain frenetic feel that does provide something different compared to the half dozen other FPS games on the market right now.
There are elements in Gotham City Impostors that may displease those who favor a more realistic FPS experience since recoil on the guns is nearly non-existent. But in a game where giant men traipse around, people suddenly go invisible, and grapple hooks are an easy mode of transportation I think realism should be the last thing that should be expected.
Having some nice weapons and gadgets wouldn’t have meant anything if the game had nothing to offer in respect to maps and games modes so I’m happy to say that Gotham City Impostors has some goodness – however limited it may be. Deciding to forgo the traditional gameplay modes, save for Team Deathmatch, modes such as Fumigation (seize control of three points and to gas the other team) and Psych Warfare (plug a battery into a location, hold it, and demoralizing propaganda is spewed which puts the opposing team in a near defenseless daze) present some nice action as opposed to traditional modes like CTF. Most gamers are used to multiplayer maps that sometimes take three minutes to go from point A to point B, but things in Gotham City Impostors have a tight but perfectly intimate feel that suits the action rather well. None of the five maps in the game are sprawling locales but they each have spots perfect for sniping or setting up quick power plays to regain possession of a particular item. Even better, the small-ish nature of the maps makes it a breeze to navigate instead of taking at least ten play sessions to figure out where the hell everything is.
Gotham City Impostors seems like it would be the last game to warrant any sort of team tactics, but it does help to have teammates who know what to do otherwise matches can be a near wash of near shameful proportions. I won’t go in too great a detail, but things got off to a rough start for me as I was 2-6 in the win/loss department despite being in the top two spots on my team. So yeah, even a one man army can’t secure victory in Gotham City Impostors.
So far I’ve painted a pretty favorable picture of Gotham City Impostors in which it seems like I enjoyed the game. While such a feeling is definitely true, Gotham City Impostors does suffer from one flaw that annoyed me even more than the lack of a distinct or specific Batman mood: it seems too catered toward micro-transactions or spending an unordinary amount of time to unlock things. With the majority of the weapons, Fun Facts, and other items such as character Calling Cards (your user profile image) being slowly unlocked as I progressed it felt to me like the main jest of Gotham City Impostors was that it was trying to present a somewhat bare-bones games similar to a free-to-play game as a priced console experience. I personally didn’t have too much of a problem slowly unlocking Keys or other items for my character as it did give me the all too familiar feeling of feeling justified in spending perhaps too much time playing a game thus making my life feel somewhat meaningful.
But personal issues aside, Gotham City Impostors does seem like it’ll be a game prime for future DLC releases, not only increasing the somewhat meager offering of five maps, but by offering more game modes, and other items to the existing collection that’s already available on the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live. The structure or at least direction Gotham City Impostors is taking with its DLC is already odd since gamers can purchase an item that doubles their XP for only one hour. Such a thing may not immediately turn the tide of battle or present an unfair advantage, but it’s just odd and makes me slightly wary of what that could mean for the future of the game, both from a gameplay perspective and in respect to the always important community which drives multiplayer games such as this.
Gotham City Impostors may not be a gritty FPS Batman experience in which we assume the cowl of the Dark Knight but it is a rather enjoyable experience that comes across as a simply cartoony and action packed FPS experience rather than an extension of the Batman license. Outside of some annoying matchmaking issues and things like suddenly being switch to a different team mid-battle due to team balancing, Gotham City Impostors isn’t riddled with annoying bugs or obvious balancing issues that sometimes plague other FPS games.
The general tone of the game may be a bit too wacky for Batman enthusiasts, just imagine something like the Adam West Batman series but with violence and swearing, and the action itself may be too reminiscent of other games, but Gotham City Impostors is an enjoyable and rather relaxing game that isn't yet another lame CoD knock-off.