Review: Gotham City Impostors

Gotham City Impostors, the latest Batman-inspired title to be published by Warner Brothers, arrives in a blaze of cartoony online-only glory and features a unique spin on a tried and tested series of FPS formulas. Recent “proper” Batman games from WB have been quite brilliant, so it was with keen intrigue that I got cracking on Impostors. And you know what? It’s another belter.

Unlike recent Batman outings, Impostors is an out and out first person shooter. There’s guns, there’s explosions, there’s cunning hiding places to hide from and irritate your opponents, and there’s plenty of people willing to remind you how rubbish you are and rub your face in it. Taking a step away from the 3rd person success of the Arkham titles was a brave move, but changing the visual style as well helps to detach it from that series and stake a claim in its own right. There’s not much new in terms of content, but what’s here has been reworked in such a way that everything feels unique and interesting. Which is nice.

On top of the legally required team deathmatch there’s a capture-the-flag style mode where you need to fumigate your opponents by capturing all the points on the map. This twist on a capture-and-hold mechanic is pretty much a new name, but for some reason the promise of being gassed to death if you lose the round gives it a bit more of an urgent edge. On top of that, a Killzone-inspired Psychological Warfare mode has you fighting for control of a battery to power your propaganda machine. Successfully activate it, and your opponents go into a psychedelic daze with only a killer slap to defend themselves while being told how pathetic they are by the opposing team’s boss.

Once you’ve plugged in the battery, defending the machine is key while the time ticks down to activation. Using your cunning gun skills along with jack-in-the-box explosives and a range of other toys will eventually see your hard work pay off and you can enjoy the motivational tunes blaring from the machine’s speakers, safe in the knowledge your opponents are now staggering around with no weapons and more colours on their screen than your average pride parade.

With this being a Batman game there are some pretty cool gadgets to play with. A grappling hook lets you reach tricky places easily and quickly, glider wings will have you soaring through the skies, and rollerskates will get you moving quicker than a nun’s first curry. Different classes are available too, giving you the chance to set yourself up as, amongst others, a sniper, a balls-out gunner or a medic, which lets you use a megaphone to whoop and holler like an American in order to heal your teammates. Again it’s nothing new in terms of baseline offerings, but it sure feels unique.

The games themselves are great fun, with a well populated game being a challenging and often close-fought affair, and the comedy touches are frequent without being over-bearing and cheesy. Visually everything is great, with a range of customisable characters (once you level up a bit) keeping everyone looking different around the nicely designed and well drawn maps. The sound is great too, with each death or kill accompanied by a witty comment and a series of sound effects camp enough to make Adam West proud. You can even unlock different sound packs for you character and change the pitch of your voice, giving you a range of options from Barry White to Jimmy Krankie.

Sadly though, there’s a few issues. The grappling hook often runs through hidden map borders, and there’s no way to know that until you’re stuck in mid-air, with the only option being to let go and fall to an embarrassing suicide. There’s also some strangely lengthy waiting times for a game (although no worse than you sometimes get in Uncharted 3), and after some bizarrely unbalanced games the team-balancing needs some work – a 6-on-2 game isn’t all that much fun if you’re one of the unfortunate couple.

But, all in all, for an online-only shooter that had a tough task in sending the Batman franchise in a different direction, Gotham City Impostors does a great job, and as long as the community stays relatively strong, this could be one to keep you busy for quite a while. The promise of future (and free) DLC is certainly a positive sign that Warners are committed to Impostors, so if you’re in the mood for some entertainment, go no further.

Reviewed on PS3

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