I really didn’t want to review this game.
Not due to any previous bias or hating the Batman franchise (I LOVE Batman and anyone who doesn’t is lying) but it just sounded bad. To be honest, the premise of the whole thing reminded me a hell of a lot of APB, one of the worst games I’ve ever played, but more shooty-shooty-haha focussed.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Well, sort of.
The pretenders’ premise
Right at the start, you get hit by the game’s humour in the intro cinematic. The story of the game is that Batman can’t be around all the time (namely in the day because he’s too busy having money, chillin’ with bitches, all the usual billionaire playboy stuff) so a number of individuals have decided to form a Bat-gang to do the Bat’s job when he isn’t around, kind of like those three or four dudes at the start of The Dark Knight; poorly trained, relatively unfit and in terrible Batman costumes but in GCI, they have no problem with hurling deadly projectiles at high velocity at evil-doers.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the fans of The Joker who have aptly named themselves Jokerz (gang members are a creative bunch, you see, and adding Z’s or K’s instantly makez zomething kooler). On the one hand, they remind me of the similarly named Jokers from Batman Beyond (Batman of the Future outside the US) who were little more than thugs keeping The Joker’s spirit alive. However, in GCI they seem little more than the Clown Prince of Crime’s normal henchman which can make things confusing.
Are they just a gang? Do they admire The Joker or take his orders? Does this mean that they’re directly influenced by him through the game? I don’t see why I’m spending so much time thinking about this because the creators of the game certainly didn’t.
The intro cinematic shows all of this in a concise and pretty funny way, but it’s no means the best bit of humour. No, the best bits of humour are in the style of little animations which explain what each gamemode is about; the animation used for Team Deathmatch in particular made me laugh. Sadly, this is where all the humour stops which is a real pity when you consider they have The Joker as an untapped resource in that precise department.
Gotham City gaming
The available game modes are the usual standard fare: Team Deathmatch, where you run around and kill people until it ends due to time or kill limit, Fumigation which is basically just point capturing where the more points you have the faster you can win (with a maximum of three points, an utter snore-fest), Psycho-something-or-other which is essentially Capture the Flag but then you need to defend the flag for a while after you captured it, and finally Challenge mode where you can get bonus XP or something. There’s also a tutorial level.
I want to address the final two for a second. Firstly, the Challenge Mode. Why is this here? The game is purely an online game and, from what I could gather, you only get bonus XP from them. Isn’t the whole point of having a leveling system (with challenges to be completed in normal games, might I add) to encourage people to keep playing games? Could you imagine just how jarring it would be if in the next Call of Duty they had an entire gamemode devoted to throwing a knife at specific targets? It’s not why people buy the game, it’s not what people want in the game and it doesn’t give any benefit when going up against other players. Having challenges based around doing certain things whilst playing online is a great idea in terms of increasing the length of time people will play (I know a few people who didn’t even think about putting down Assassin’s Creed: Revelations until they had gotten every single Accolade at least once) but an entire gamemode? Come on fellas.
Secondly, the tutorial level. Gotham City Imposters functions kind of like the modern Call of Duty games: You start off with some stock classes which you can’t edit and you eventually work your way up to unlock custom slots and things to fill the slots with. There are also a number of gadgets which are available such as a grappling hook, glider, and roller-skates which can be used to give yourself a bit of a tactical edge.
Starting from scratch
Let me begin by saying the classes who have those gadgets by default make no sense. The normal assault type dude has the grappling hook, which leaves him exposed and unable to fire when used, so it’s only really for getting to higher ground… even thought other classes do it better. The defender, the biggest guy on the team who has a shit-ton of health and a rocket launcher, gets the glider that would be far more suited to the assault guy and wouldn’t look ridiculous on him. Finally, the medic gets the roller-skates. Why is this bad? Because there’s a scout class which is supposed to be used as a fast, highly maneuverable damage dealer who operates via hit-and-run tactics and they get left with just their feet.
What the hell were they thinking?! I mean yeah, you don’t want your medic to not be able to move around and get killed easily, but why aren’t you giving the speed boost and environment utility gadget to the fast guy who can utilise the environment well? Secondly, there’s only one tutorial level which covers everything. Sure, this sounds good, but it means you get dumped into a game and have no idea what each class can do, what your main goal whilst playing that class is, and you have absolutely no clue which class has which gadget.
What makes this even worse is that you’re on a time limit to choose your class which means one will be selected for you at random if you don’t select in time. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?! Why couldn’t they make it like nearly every other game and let me choose a class at my own leisure so I could actually understand what the hell I’m doing? Did they think that way of doing things was too easy and simple, and that tutorials needed to change? If that’s the case, they were wrong.
There are hats, but they’re all the same
As well as doing the Call of Duty thing of levelling up and unlocking stuff, (which, by the way, I wasn’t at all motivated to do as it doesn’t seem like there’s anything I’d WANT to unlock) Gotham City Impostors tries to do the Team Fortress 2 thing of the basic classes looking the same on both teams allowing you to identify people easily at a distance. It doesn’t work. What they did was use the same basic model for the classes, and then put them in a Batman costume if you play as the Bats and slap make-up on them if they’re with the Jokerz. What ends up happening is that you can identify the defenders on both teams because they’re the big fat guys, you can tell who everyone on the Bat team is because the armour is different depending on the character model and then all the Jokerz look the same. This is particularly frustrating considering that the game operates on a lobby hosting system for online play so I can’t even choose which team I’m on. I had the tremendous luck of being assigned to the Bats most of the time and the utter joy of never knowing who the hell is coming at me (bro).
It just doesn’t seem like Monolith put that much care or attention into Gotham City Imposters. The little bits of humour and the animations were awesome, but they seem to have been the main focus. The gameplay is repetitive and boring, and (whilst it isn’t the fault of the developer at all) most players don’t communicate unless they want to act like dicks.
If the devs had spent a little more time on the actual game to make the different models look a little more distinct at a distance, did away with unlocking custom slots (but kept the idea of leveling up and unlocking new weapons/perks/gadgets) and perhaps added a few more game modes, then the game might be passable. As it stands, it seems like Imposters tried to include too many little things and can’t decide what it wants to be when it grows up.
Personally, I’d much rather stick with Team Fortress 2 for my group-based gaming carnage. There are more classes, you can see what’s coming at you, customisation can actually change how the game is played, it’s run on servers rather than lobbies, you can find a friendly community to play with, and it’s cheap as free.
If you want something mindless and have disposable income then by all means buy Gotham City Impostors. If you don’t, then stay way clear of it, especially if you’re a Batman fan as there’s little actual Batman stuff in this game save for the names of the two warring sides. You don’t even get to play as Robin.