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Gotham City Impostors review for XBLA, PSN, PC

Platform: XBLA
Also on: PSN, PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Monolith Productions
Medium: Digital Download
Players: 2 – 12
Online: YEs
ESRB: T

I didn’t realize there wasn’t a co-op mode when I went over to a buddy’s to play Gotham City Impostors.  Generally speaking, I love me some co-op and online/multiplayer-only games that lack this fundamental feature tend to go unplayed when I’m around.  And yet, despite this, I was completely surprised by how much fun (and how funny) GCI is even when you have to pass the controller back and forth.

The game isn’t really anything new, but it is definitely a unique take on games we’ve played before… It’s kind of like Arkham Asylum and Team Fortress 2 (why do I always compare to Valve games?) had a baby, and that baby grew up playing quite a bit of Call of Duty.  Now even though none of those things sound outright fresh, the combination and spastic over-the-topness of Impostors still does a good job of drawing you in and hopefully keep you playing.

As the name implies, this is a Batman game that takes place in Gotham, but Batman isn’t really involved.  Instead, teams are comprised of wannabe batmen and jokerz (wasn’t this touched on in the last batman movie?), complete with makeshift costumes, weapons and gadgets.  Naturally this leads to humorous results; in fact the cheapness of the costumes are as funny as the banter of the disturbed individuals portraying the heroes or villains.  It’s all very tongue in cheek and definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, plus it takes a few jabs at the comic nerd in all of us.

Designing and loading out your character play a pretty big part of the game’s long lasting appeal, as there are massive amounts of leveling and unlocking to do.  Weapon mods, costumes, gadgets are abundant and clearly designed to keep the player motivated.  Primary weapon, secondary weapon, support item and gadget are all user selectable, so you’ll have fun merely trying out different combinations of weapons/mods or newly unlocked gear.  For example, the body odor sniffers that allow you to see enemies’ stinky-lines through walls only attach to certain primary weapons, PVC rocket launchers are surprisingly effective compared to the real thing, and items like hatchets offer one-hit kills.

On the character design side, most things are cosmetic like face paint, hair style, clothes, masks, etc., but there are different body types which affect your speed:health ratio.  The bigger you are, the slower you are, but the more health you have.  Honestly, the action goes pretty quickly so, speed ends up being pretty handy although there are gadgets, like glider wings, roller skates, or grapple guns that really help you to move around maps fast.

If I had to peg why the game works to only one attribute, I probably couldn’t.  Other than its sheer ridiculousness, it really is a straight-forward team shooter.  The game’s mechanics work as advertised, so you can’t really complain.  That is to say, they work like you’d expect them to after playing any contemporary console FPS, which is something I admire.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember how many times I’ve said to myself, “why didn’t they just use the such-and-such control scheme?”  Fortunately, GCI’s actually uses what’s intuitive for this generation’s FPS players, e.g. more or less COD controls.  It’s such a simple and proven solution you really have to wonder why more devs don’t use something similar.

Game modes are broken into tweaked versions of team deathmatch, capture the flag, and king of the hill.  All of which can be played across five (yep, only 5) maps.  So, pretty vanilla stuff.  Yet the feel of the game is solid and its personality, as mentioned, is exceptional.   This is, after all, the same Monolith that has brought such solid first person offerings as Shogo, No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R., and more recently, Condemned: Criminal Origins.  So again, even though it plays similar to other offerings, it has enough flare to stand out even in an over-saturated genre.

The only sticking point that bothered me – and from a superficial point of view – was how Warner Brothers (I assume Monolith had nothing to do with it) handled microtransactions.  They’re somewhat counter-intuitive and actually de-value the game that Monolith have developed.  You can buy, with real money, all of the unlockable items instead of playing for them.  So, just in case you don’t want to actually play the game to unlock them, you can purchase items with real monies.  To me, this defeats the purpose of any level-progression, which to a large degree nullifies the re-playability of the game.  I don’t know what’s worse; the person willing to buy these items or the fact they they’re even offered.

Overall, Gotham City Impostors retains what works with modern multiplayer games, while offering enough unique flare to allow it to stand out of the crowd.  If you’re a Call of Duty player that has grown tired of MW3 (it happens), but you still want your multiplayer fix, Gotham City Impostors offers something that is exactly the same as COD, but completely different.  In other words, it’s worth a shot.

Grade: B-



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List Price:$19.99 USD
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