A Pearl Among Swine
Having been an avid video game player for quite some time now, I thought Iíd just about seen it all. Between playing an alien invasion as the bad guys, controlling a self-mutilating zombie, walking a child through a monochromatic nightmare, and more, I didnít really think any game premise could catch me too off-guard. I was proven wrong when I heard Monolith and Warner Bros. Interactiveís premise for their $15 downloadable title Gotham City Impostors. The premise is rather uncomplicated: Batman and The Joker are only two men, and a man can only be one place at a time. This being the case, everyday people such as you and I have decided that they should don either capes or face paint and take to the streets to help out their leader of choice. The idea of people dressing up like Bats and Mr. J isnít a new one, in fact itís been briefly explored in both comics and 2008ís The Dark Knight, but framing it in a bonkers 6 on 6 first-person shooter is surely a move that few saw coming.
Gotham City Impostors doesnít necessarily break the competitive first-person shooter mold in any particularly meaningful ways, but what it does it does fairly well. Besides a few solo challenges involving menial objectives like racing through a map as fast as possible, Impostors is a completely online affair. Game modes consist of your vanilla Team Deathmatch, Fumigation (similar to Battlefield 3ís Conquest), and Psych Warfare (a variation on capture the flag), each inhabiting the same five maps. The maps that are present are fine, but I never found any of them to be remarkable in any way. Since all of them are designed for all three game modes, none of them fit into any category particularly well. I would have loved to see a few more mode-specific (or at least focused) maps included to mix things up a bit more. Normally I prefer objective-based game modes since I find the strategy and teamwork they require to be more fun, but for whatever reason the only mode I can play here for more than a match or two is Team Deathmatch. Maybe itís because for the most part Iíve been entering games without a party and communication can be difficult with strangers, maybe itís because I think the light-hearted tone of the game lends itself to more trigger-happy play, or maybe itís because Fumigation and Psych Warfare just arenít themselves terribly inspired.
Playing Dress Up
While the number of maps and game modes may leave something to be desired, one area that does impress is player customization. While character customization is hardly new, it is an enjoyable option that most multiplayer shooters have been short-ending players on. Impostors does a nice job of mixing nice looking but ultimately meaningless aesthetic customization options with choices that let you tailor your character to your preferred style of play. The most noticeable, and in my opinion most fun aspect of character creation is setting up your characterís costume and personality. You make separate Batmanesque and Joker-like costumes, and each side has some genuinely funny options. While the ďpeople dressed like heroes that they actually arenítĒ joke runs thin after awhile (more on that later), this is one area where itís used to good effect and really hits. Batman is able to use his unlimited cash flow for things such as Kevlar-plated body armor and a memory cloth cape, but out impostors are trying to fight crime on a working manís (or womanís) budget, so these things are eschewed in favor of ski gloves, cardboard gauntlets, four-sizes-to-small purple pizza delivery shirts, body paint, kilts, and much more. Again, the costumes were normally good for a laugh or two every game, and perfectly fit the tone of the game. The only downside is that the coins needed to unlock new costume pieces are unlocked very slowly. I realize this is supposed to add longevity to the game, but with so many things to unlock I think the title could have dished pieces out a bit quicker and still kept people wanting more.
Controls are tight, customization is great, when the humor hits it hits hard
Only 5 maps and 3 game modes, the jokes get dry after a few days of play