A fear of clowns seems like an irrational fear to some people. But it makes total sense after witnessing the destruction and mayhem caused by Joker-wannabes in Gotham City Impostors. A simple premise makes up the background of the game – people of Gotham City have taken advantage of Batman’s absence (presumably while he’s in Arkham City) and have decided to band together as Joker imposters in order to commit consequence-free crime. Well, Batman wouldn’t let the Joker himself get away with it, so naturally, every Joker has his Batman – or a squad of rookie Batmen, in this case. Rising to the call of duty, these clumsy, self-proclaimed vigilantes have decided to band together and undo the terrible deeds that the arbitrary, irrational Jokerz have committed. This is where Gotham City Impostors is born.
Platforms: PC, PS3 (Version Played), Xbox 360
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Monolith Productions
Genre: A Violent Comic Book Nerd’s Costume Party
Release Date: February 7, 2012 (PC, PSN), February 8, 2012 (XBLA)
ESRB Rating: Teen
First off, I know what you’re thinking – yes, this is an absurd game, but let’s just accept that for now. Let’s get into what Gotham City Impostors really has to offer. The game’s initial similarity to Team Fortress 2‘s style is apparent, and you know what they say – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Fortunately, GCI isn’t the sort of imitation that comes off as a blatant ripoff, but rather a smorgasbord of shared features and new, interesting ideas all wrapped into a first-person shooter.
The game’s core is its multiplayer. At first glance, many will recognize much of the UI and controls from the Call of Duty series, as many other current games share controls with Call of Duty. GCI has also organized its weapon and gadget loadouts in the Call of Duty fashion, with a similar rank-up system, and unlockable items and customization for those who are persistent in Gotham City. Many of the guns in GCI are not terribly unique until they are further customized, but there are quite a few interesting weapons and Gadgets that give the game a different twist, and add some unexpected fun.
Support Items are one of the most interesting groups of gear, with choices ranging from an explosive jack-in-the-box to subtle bear traps. As mentioned earlier, Gadgets also bring an interesting factor to combat – only one Gadget can be assigned to each custom loadout, and it is difficult to choose what type of mayhem to cause in every match. Shooting off a Grapple Hook will pull you to your desired destination, and the Glider Gadget allows the “Bats” and “Jokerz” teams to take advantage of the blowing air vents throughout the levels in order to conquer the skies and crash into foes below. Roller skates utilize jump ramps found in each level, giving players a speed boost as they fly off. While the Shoe Springs can be charged and released to fling Bats and Jokerz into the air, the Inflatable Shoe Insoles can be used to achieve a double jump. Though similar, they clearly have their own advantages.
GCI contains a few different game modes; Team Deathmatch is the staple, while “Fumigation” is essentially a game of “node control.” Here, players must capture and hold these nodes in order to set up the Jokerz’ poisonous gas machines or the Bats’ bat swarm attack, resulting in a victory for the more skilled team. The final mode of play – “Propaganda” – is a replica of Capture the Flag, where players must retrieve and carry a battery back to their base in order to power a stereo and spew their team’s propaganda throughout the map, resulting in a win.
GCI includes several additional in-game power-ups, mostly derived from tailoring your character’s appearance and background. The characters’ appearances can actually take a toll on their in-game performance – bigger and fatter characters will be able to take more damage, but will move slower and also be a bigger target in play, and vice versa. Characters’ voices can be changed and pitch-shifted, making the hilarious one-liners spurted out in-game even funnier than they already are. “Calling cards” can also be crafted with unlockable backgrounds, captions, and icons; these are similar to Call of Duty’s call signs, displaying on your victims’ screens when they are killed.
GCI is a multiplayer-only game, with a few exceptions: a short training session introduces new players to most of the game’s basic concepts, but there are also challenges for some of the game’s Gadgets. These challenges involve use of the Grapple Hook, Roller skates, the Glider, Shoe Springs, and the Inflatable Insoles. Generally, players must touch three checkpoints in each round, using each Gadget to help them on their way. They are scored on their time and receive a bronze, silver, or gold medal for their effort. Though these challenges may seem overwhelming, you’ll find yourself devising your most efficient route around the stage after the first few test runs.
Finally, I wanted to point out a few quick connectivity issues that I encountered while playing. Several matches that I played did not come together well – connecting to a host sometimes took longer than it should have, and as players left matches, the game shifted players between teams in a rather unbalanced manner. Since incoming players can’t currently join live matches, there’s not a way for the imbalance to be corrected, which forces the teams to wait for the match to end, or to simply leave the match and abandon any points they scored throughout. I had also noticed that there’s no way to mute your opponent’s chatter. The option was nowhere in sight, and we all know how “that one gamer” can be, obliviously permitting background noise into the lobby, and thus, to speaker systems around the world. The former issue looks as though it will be fixed in an upcoming update, but I’ve yet to see a mention of the latter.
It’s tough to deny that Gotham City Impostors shares a lot of gameplay elements with Call of Duty and mimics the wacky Team Fortress 2, but take my word in saying that the experience is a breath of fresh air – especially considering this is a more light-hearted FPS venture than you may be used to. Despite the few minor issues that I encountered with the game, it’s definitely a title that will repeatedly beckon you back for more wacky mayhem.
Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Gotham City Impostors was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.