In 2005, Christopher Nolan took the Batman film franchise out of the depths of mediocrity, wiped away some of the lingering stains left by Poison Ivy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and hard nipple suits, and gave the Caped Crusader a gritty makeover. Three years later, when The Dark Knight came along, the memory of the campy, fun Batman that was the Pows! and Thwaps! of Adam West’s era had all but faded. Even though it doesn’t star the brooding anti-hero, Gotham City Impostors aims to take the series closer to its roots by giving us more zany gadgets, over-the-top action, and humor that made the Big Black Bat popular so many years ago.
For the most part, Impostors succeeds, though it doesn’t come without some flaws. Even if you don’t relish the idea of playing a game in the Batman universe that doesn’t star the masked vigilante, the cheap price, fun multiplayer, and tons of customization could make this worth your while. Head past the break to hear my tale of frantic survival in a world gone mad in my review of Gotham City Impostors. The Baby Factor: If Team Fortress got together with Adam West’s Batman for a night of awkward sex complete with cursing and weird gadgets, Impostors would be the result.
Ever wonder what happens when Batman takes a much needed vacay from the constant goon beating he has to endure while watching over the streets of Gotham City? It would seem that as soon as the Dark Knight leaves his home town, gangs of crazies take over and start fighting for control of the city. Within the major gangs that are fighting over their piece of the Gotham pie are the Jokerz and the Bats.
The Jokerz are fond of the clown makeup and the Joker’s fab fashion sense; the Bats look like they’re wearing Batman Halloween costumes of the homemade variety. if you’re not happy with the way your character looks you can invest the points you receive after completing matches into growing your wardrobe. The customization is great, even if the number of options in each category is a little too limited. You can choose your clothing, face, hair, body type, avatar, and even the pitch of your voice, which you can tune until you sound like you’ve inhaled a bouquet of helium balloons. This is particularly funny when the high pitched voice belongs to a monstrous, tank-like dude.
One of the game’s major downfalls is its sparse selection of maps, undoubtedly limited to make sure you’d have to pay out the ass for more maps down the road. The $100+ worth of DLC available from the get-go, which might turn off some prospective players, but it’s not all bad. Impostor’s first DLC pack, due this month will bring with it a brand spanking new map and more customization options for free. The few maps you can play on now are all very cool, and are littered with ramps, trampolines, and air vents to cater to whatever gadget you might have equipped at the time.
Like most other shooters today, you can customize your loadouts, including your primary weapon, support weapon, gadget, and two perks, called Fun Facts, which give you certain bonuses when equipped.
After playing games like Call of Duty, the arsenal of weapons to choose from here is a little disappointing. There are only a few different weapons in each category (including pistols, rifles, machine guns, shotguns, etc.) to choose from. With that said, something that makes this a little more interesting is the mod you can equip to your weapon. These mods can give you armor piercing rounds, improved accuracy, damage boost, larger magazine, etc.
The gadgets are easily the most unique thing about this game, and they’re also the main reason the fights don’t play out like Call of Duty or Halo. There’s a grappling hook that allows you to grapple onto walls or reach roofs to unleash surprise attacks on unsuspecting enemies. Just make sure said enemy doesn’t have a pair of goggles on or they could’ve marked your ass ages ago. The goggles are my favorite, because they let you see and mark the locations of enemy targets all over the map. Watching players use the air vents to fly up into the air so they can glide gracefully into battle is hilarious — as are the bouncy shoes that let you jump insanely high. This is an area where Impostors shows its true ingenuity, and without the gadgets, it’d be much more difficult to distinguish the action here from the dozens of other war games that saturate the market right now.
The Calling Card is your unique identifier, and its purpose is similar to the player cards in Call of Duty, only more restricted in their customization. You can choose the background, tagline, and icon until you deem your calling card worthy of being the last thing your enemy sees when they fall by your blade, gun, or after you dive-bomb them from above. There’s a myriad options to choose from and by limiting the level of customization it means you won’t have to stare at the boobs and dicks that are far too common among player cards in Call of Duty.
The modes are what you’d expect from a shooter these days. There’s the team deathmatch mode, where it’s all about how many kills you can rack up. There’s Team Fumigation, where both teams fight for control over various territories on the map that house Gasblasters. The team that holds the most for the longest amount of time doesn’t get gassed at the end of the match. The final mode is Psych Warfare, and in it your goal is to take a battery to the opposing team’s base to boot up a machine that will then blast propaganda to affect their team morale.
While you can only play as one of the Bats or the Jokerz, there’s an added level of competition with the five available gangs that are fighting for control of the city. If you beat enough ass on a certain map you’ll be invited to join the gang that controls it. The Wharf Rats control the Docks, the Killa Watts have Gotham Power, the Carnies call Amusement Mile their home, the Hazmats’ turf is Ace Chemical, and the Allery Cats hold Crime Alley. Once you join a gang you can see which one is on top in the gang map. It adds an extra level of competition since you’ll want to perform well to help your gang make it to the top, and it’s a lot less dangerous than going outside to join a real gang.
Three modes and five maps, with sixth free map on the way, might not sound like enough incentive to drop $15 on a game like this. For some it might not very well be worth it, but if you’re looking for a fun, addictive shooter with a lot of personality and some crazy customization, Gotham City Impostors won’t disappoint.
The Final Word: There’s more than enough fun and innovation here to make Gotham City Impostors worth your time.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of Gotham City Impostors.