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Gaming Review

'Gotham City Imposters' review (Xbox 360)

By
Released on Wednesday, Feb 8 2012

'Gotham City Imposters' screenshot

© Warner Bros.


Also available on: PS3, PC
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Genre: First-person Shooter

Gotham City Imposters is about as far from Rocksteady Studio's bleak vision of the Batman licence as you can get. Batman: Arkham Asylum and its follow-up Batman: Akham City took their cues from the DC Comics titles and Christopher Nolan's hit movies, but Monolith's new game firmly nods to the Adam West-era Batman in the 1960s TV series, albeit with the campness replaced by dark humour. Not many first-person shooters have players wiping each other out while sliding around on roller skates and bouncing on trampolines. But strip away the colour, fun and energy, and Gotham City Imposters is really just another bog standard online shooter.

One thing that is markedly absent from Gotham City Imposters is Batman, or his arch nemesis the Joker. Instead, the city of Gotham is the playground of two gangs of copycats - the Batmen and the Jokerz. These adventurous men and women do not have the funds available to billionaire Bruce Wayne, or the crime proceeds of the Joker. The 'batmen' have therefore donned mismatched and ill-fitting costumes, coupled with armour made of cardboard, while the fake Jokers have clearly been digging in the Crown Prince of Crime's castoff bin. The Jokerz are as crazy as their idol, but there is no trace of Batman's mission of non-lethal crime fighting, as the gang he inspired are packing some serious heat.

Control-wise, Gotham City Imposters will be familiar territory for anyone who has ever played modern first-person shooters. There are a range of standard weapons available across the different classes, such as assault rifles, shotguns and rocket launchers. But the difference comes in the unlockable support items. Forget air strikes and mortar barrages, this game takes a much different approach - think spring shoes, roller skates, glider capes, boomerangs and goggles that enable you to see through walls. You can also access a range of personalised calling cards, which can be left to ensure your victims know exactly who dispatched them.

The standard team deathmatch is pretty fun, as the unlockable bonuses add a new dimension. Things such as the grapple hooks and trampolines make getting around the maps feel much different, while the bonus abilities add a bit of spice to the contests. After all, its somewhat hard to aim at someone when they are flying through the air across the map. The game runs really well, and the quick respawn system ensures that matches are fast and fluid. There are lots of nice touches too, such as player-characters spouting cheeky lines, including "that is going on my blog" and "don't try to upskirt me" after scoring a kill, or uttering the rather doleful "why won't anyone be my friend?" when they die.


Alongside deathmatch, there is also a capture the flag mode called Fumigation that involves the two teams trying to capture and hold two 'gasblasters' for long enough so that a cloud of gas (toxic for the Jokerz, bat-filled for the Batmen) can obliterate the other team. The mode sticks by the numbers, but there is a good visual push-and-pull in trying to get enough pressure in the gas canisters to win the game. A King of the Hill mode involves each team trying to get a battery and then take it to their base to hook up a 'propaganda machine'. Activating the device temporarily strips the other team of their weapons, making it open season on killing (although opponents can get in a cheeky slap for an XP bonus). Even though the disarming mechanic is a nice touch, this mode is rather chaotic, and not in a good way.

We had a bit of trouble finding a full six versus six contest in the matchmaking, as the servers seem a little bare at the moment. This will probably improve as the game expands after coming out of beta, but that will depend on whether it clicks with players, and therein lies the rub. Stripping away all the colour and presentation leaves a pretty standard first-person shooter with a Batman licence. The core gameplay is fine, but its been done much better elsewhere, while the extra skills and features get a little familiar after a while. These problems are not helped by some rather dreary visuals, as textures are rough and ugly when viewed close up.

But despite these gripes, you will have fun playing Gotham City Imposters. The matches are frantic and fun, backed up by a character upgrade system that feels engaging and addictive. There are around 500 unlockable items available, including lots of costume modifications and new stickers for your calling card. A slightly odd feature in the game is that there is a currency system that enables you to buy items rather than earning them, including extra XP. This seems to rather devalue the process of winning upgrades through achievement, but at least it gives you plenty of options.

On the one hand, Gotham City Imposters is a really different take on the Batman licence that feels fresh and interesting, but on the other, its a pretty standard online first-person shooter that may struggle to hold people's attention. Essentially, the game is just three familiar multiplayer modes given a slight twist in a package that comes with five different maps. Is it enough to warrant shelling out for the full game at £10 / $15? Hardly. It seems a shame that there was not a single player or co-op campaign, because the world has lots of potential. But in the absence of that you have a shooter that is much like the Batman TV series; fun, colourful and silly, but ultimately a bit lacking in substance.

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