The streets of Gotham City are alive with the sound of assault rifle fire, unhinged giggling and comedic screaming, while the skyline is a confused criss-cross of C-grade vigilantes and wannabe criminals grappling and springing from rooftop to rooftop. In Gotham City Imposters the citizens of the titular town have left the two warring factions get on with it, meaning it’s not so much vigilante vs. Villain but more a gang war between two equally unhinged teams.
There are the Bats, a vigilante group obsessed with the caped crusader, who attempt to mimic their hero with an array of guns and improvised gadgets. On the other side of the fence are the Jokerz, likeminded sociopaths all spruced up with the Jokers eponymous white face paint and eerie red grin. The game ostensibly plays as your regular Red vs. Blue type shooter, but it’s the outlying elements of customisation and the anarchic humour itself which seems to be the calling card for Gotham City Imposters.
The gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played any of the principal FPS’ of this generation, and though Gotham City Imposters is no slouch when it comes to control it’s never quite as refined as any of the bigger, retail releases. Default sensitivity is tuned high and there seems an emphasis on run and gun shooting rather than anything more tactical or restrained, but know that the controls get the job done. You’re given a handful of standard loadout choices to appease you throughout the early levels but the meat of the game comes in unlocking new weapons, upgrades, skins and ways to customise your very own psychopath.
The level of unlocks is pretty staggering, rivalling most retail releases, with each weapon typically giving you around ten attachments to work towards, not to mention various skins, perks and gadgets. Taking a cue from this year’s Brink, Gotham City Imposters has an emphasis on movement. Every loadout is allowed access to a gadget that can aid you in getting around the map and a lot of these are genuine fun to use. Batman’s trusty grapple hook is my personal favourite and allows you to aim at any building inside the map and grapple there by holding one of the shoulder buttons. For those not zipping across the skyline at the end of a reinforced wire there are spring boots for confusing the enemy, as well as roller skates that allow you to blast off ramps and a glider rig, allowing you to dive-bomb hapless opponents. Also similar to Brink are customisable body types ranging from muscle-bound behemoths to agile beanpoles.
Cosmetic touches to further customise your loadout are available for both teams, meaning you can create a deranged combatant to satisfy every one of your misplaced hero/villain fantasies. The great things about this system is how developer Monolith has given the player a great degree of choice in their character customisation without sacrificing your ability to recognise the enemy. Wigs and colourful ties are a nice cosmetic touch, but they never seem to hamper the game by blurring the distinctions between teams. Through a combination of silhouette and colour it’s fairly easy to discern who your enemy is and then evaluate what kind of threat they pose.
Right now in the beta there are only two game modes available. Fumigation is a quintessential game of territories while Psychological Warfare is a capture the flag type game played with batteries you use to power your teams mind control machine. Both mix the cathartic gunplay and competition of all good shooters with overarching objectives to fuel your team’s ambitions, and the twists on the standard FPS game modes work well in the context of the game. Balance all seems to be in check as well and I was killed and in turn killed with a wide variety of weapons. Even the bulkiest of character types can’t take that much damage, but the ease of movement your gadgets allow you offsets this, so it’s usually fairly easy to make a fast get-away.
All this is wrapped up with in some gloriously anarchic humour. From the characters catch-phrases (you get to choose from a selection of voices and personalities for each faction), to hint boxes, respawn countdowns and even term of service contracts, the game really tries to capitalise on the wacky concept at its foundation.
It’s uncertain whether Gotham City Imposters will remain fresh and interesting outside of its open beta. Much of it will hinge on how many maps and game modes Monolith can ship with the game on its January 10th launch date. While there’s clearly an awful lot of content to unlock and experiment with, it’s unclear whether the main allure for playing the game will be for more unlocks and experience points or good, sociopathic fun. Based on what I’ve played over the last two days, though, I’m optimistic that Gotham City Imposters can become a successful multiplayer shooter with plenty of customisation and a wonderfully wild sense of humour. It’s certainly one to keep an eye on.
Gotham City Imposters is currently in closed beta on consoles. The game was tested on the Xbox 360 console and a key was acquired through public channels.Gotham City Imposters Closed Beta Impressions,