Gotham City Impostors on paper, is a bit of a disaster. A first-person shooter based in the DC universe of the Caped Crusader – a superhero famed for his hatred of firearms. It’s cute, bright and serious enough to have trampolines, spring-loaded shoes and fart bombs.
Modern Warfare this is not.
The FPS genre has certainly always striven to innovate within the constraints of its perspective, but shooters have become something of a serious affair. Gotham City Impostors in all its slapstick glory, is everything these games are not. For better, and for worse.
Hailing from Monolith, who have given us both the gruesome Condemned series and the hilarious, cult favourite No One Lives Forever, GCI certainly has the pedigree behind it. GCI is a multi-player-only title set in a Gotham where the inhabitants have decided to settle their rivalries by donning Joker paint and Bat-cowls like a slapstick version of The Warriors. Players can customise their avatar with a pretty extensive wardrobe of hand-made costumes and get-ups, giving it a quirky feel somewhere between Team Fortress 2 and Brink.
The Halo players in us all will instantly take to the vertical style of this game. Trampolines, air vents and grapple hooks let players zoom about the maps, all of which have enough nooks and crannies to cater to sniperholics and banzai crazy nutters. These elements may alienate some players more grounded in the ‘realism’ of COD or Battlefield, but it should usher most players to change their play style, much like the multi-player of the surprisingly good Crysis 2.
The problem with GCI is inherent to its concept. Running around dressed as Batman is cool and everything, but it just doesn’t fit the universe. Perhaps the mind of this reviewer is too deeply entrenched in the dark tones of the graphic novels and the Nolan-era reboot, but Batman fans and fans of the IP will struggle to suspend their protectiveness of all things Gothamesque. Perhaps, its best to view this game as an Adam West inspired version of the Dark Knight, albeit one sadly missing the word KAPOW or WHAMMO as you blow some painted noob away. If the Benny Hill theme started playing at any point during a match it wouldn’t have been out of place.
As a basic shooter GCI is satisfactory at best. The aiming feels like your dragging the reticule through treacle, as if you’re trapped in some mind-numbing bullet time. This turns many close quarters run-ins into little more than blind, jousting sessions between a bunch of players who can’t aim properly. The weapons are also far too similar to add any variety on their own, which even in a cartoon-themed game is still unforgivable as its meant to be an FPS first and foremost.
What adds a real unique and fundamentally grace-saving flavour to the game are the perks and mods that become available as you level up. These perks let you glide around the map or turn invisible for a limited time, etc and they really shake up the action of a match. Enemy avatars can sweep down from the sky or speed out of nowhere thanks to a speed boost, suddenly blowing your ass away with a sometimes genuinely funny soundbite. A few hours in and you’re doing the same, racking up kills like an acrobatic mentalist.
And its these unusual elements that somehow redeem GCI. For all the bland FPS basics, once you’ve ground away past the first dozen or so level-ups you suddenly find yourself playing this game the way the developers intended. Its meant to be a parody, not only of superheroes but of shooters in general. If you’re playing this game and are thinking ‘Hey, this is nothing like Halo or COD. This sucks!’ then you’ve missed the point and are wasting your time. GCI is jarring and a little broken, but once you spend a little time with it you’ll end up being won over by its charming stupidity.
Gotham City Impostors is out now on PSN, XBLA and Games for Windows.
AK Score: 6.5/10