Gotham City Impostors Multiplayer Hands-On Impressions -- I'm Batman! No, I'm Batman!By Heidi Kemps - Posted Dec 12, 2011
The biggest question everyone has when first looking at Gotham City Impostors is, "Why would I want to play a Batman game where I don’t actually play as Batman?” Well, there’s actually one very good reason: one of the essential tenets of Batman’s character is that he does not kill. And considering that Gotham City Impostors is a multiplayer-focused team-driven first-person shooter – the genre that made “deathmatch” a household term – playing as Batman wouldn’t exactly mesh with the game design.
Of course, that brings us to the second question you’d be likely to have: how did a Batman-themed first person shooter come to be? Well, David Longo, Art Director for GCI at Monolith (developers of FEAR 3 and the Condemned series), told us during a recent press day.
“This actually started as a hallway discussion at the Monolith offices. We’ve done shooters for a long time, and someone just threw out the idea of doing a shooter in the Batman universe. Batman can’t kill, but people who are copycat heroes or villains can, and that gives us the perfect opportunity to do some crazy things. We got really excited about it, but we didn’t think it would go any further.”
After a few weeks of mocking up a concept game, the team took it to Burbank to showcase to the suits at WB, who turned out to be just as excited about the idea. “The next step was getting DC involved, and about a week later, they flew Jim Lee out, and we showed it to him… he got really excited, as well!
Skipping the retail route entirely, Gotham City Impostors will debut as a direct-download title for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Also unlike more conventional FPS titles, Gotham City Impostors is primarily a multiplayer-centered experience. If you hadn’t figured it out by this point that the game isn’t meant to be taken so seriously (see what I did there?), the cute cartoon animations that explain game elements and appear as interstitial transitions between screens should let you know that this is definitely a more lighthearted take on the FPS formula.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of carnage and action, but instead of your standard FPG crop of grizzled angry dudebros, you’ll be playing as a guy (or gal) cosplaying as Batman or the Joker and fighting each other for control of some of Gotham City’s less foreboding locales (of which there are a surprising number). Ever wanted to be an angry, grenade-wielding Juggalette with roller-skates, a chip on her shoulder, and a pack of bear traps? Gotham City Impostors lets you live the dream...and gun down a morbidly obese man in a cardboard Batman hat in the process.
Gotham City Impostors has some single-player elements, but they’re mostly challenge modes that show you the ropes (figuratively and literally) of some of the varied tools available for use in multiplayer matches. These include items like grappling hooks and a flying cape that can catch updrafts and lengthen jumps. These modes are good for getting used to some of the wild and weird items at your disposal, as well as earning some EXP to rank up a bit. It’s a good idea to practice and get the hang of some of this stuff, because once you hop into a multiplayer match, there’s no clowning around to be had.
At our preview event, we had the opportunity to play two different game modes. The first was a fairly typical team deathmatch-style competition in which the two teams of six players – the Bats and the Jokerz – went head-to-head to see who could cap more members of the opposition. The map was a harbor stage with ample platforms and hiding spaces both in and outdoors, giving us plenty of opportunities to use some of the more interesting transportation methods we practiced with in the single-player challenge mode.
What was particularly interesting is that, after amassing sufficient EXP, we could purchase unlocks for weapons and abilities and essentially create our own custom loadouts, rather than being tied to the specific classes so commonly seen in other FPS titles. At the end of the match, we received rewards and achievements, some far more laudable than others; keeping with the humorous bent of the game, there were some rather dubious honors mixed in with accolades. But praiseworthy or not, these achievements helped unlock other features, like additional customization options and ID cards other players can see.
The other multiplayer mode we played, Psychological Warfare, was a more bizarre take on the typical capture-the-flag formula. In this case, the item being fought over is a battery, and the “base” said battery must be taken to is a propaganda-spewing brainwashing machine. If it wasn’t humiliating enough for the other team to successfully hook up the battery, Gotham City Impostors throws in one additional swift kick to the metaphorical unmentionables: one the machine’s up and running, all everyone on the opposing side can do for a while is throw wimpy melee punches, allowing them to be taken down more easily for fun and profit. Watching the opposite team attempt to engage in sissy slap-fights as your crew guns them down is both satisfying and hilarious, as is the random dialogue all characters will frequently spout throughout gameplay.
The game’s emphasis on freedom in character creation doesn’t stop with customizing loadouts and play styles, either. Gotham City Impostors boasts a massive amount of character customization options, allowing you to make a very elaborate and creative custom character. Most of these options will be unlockable in-game, though hints were given that DLC content would be possible down the line. But no matter what happens on that front, there’s still a lot to see and play around with when it comes to character creation in the core package. Bodytype, clothing, hair, face types, masks and makeup. Weapons can also be modified to increase potency, as well as given custom decorations and color schemes that suit your own twisted sense of style.
We enjoyed what we played of Gotham City Impostors, but you might not need to wait long to get a chance to cause some mayhem yourself. The full game releases on January 10, but it will be entering a beta testing phase beforehand. You can opt to be notified when the beta goes live by flying over to www.gothamcityimpostors.com/beta.