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Review by: Reubin Montgomery on February 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

What happens when you take a Batman fan’s dreams of actually being Batman or The Joker, toss in some wild homemade gadgets, a warehouse worth of gun types, tons of customization, and some brillint comic relief? You get Gotham City Impostors, a $15 downloadable arcade title that hopes to prove that good games can come in budget-priced packages. Gotham City Impostors takes the premise of Batman being called away (likely to fight some villain) and Gotham’s self-appointed alternative heroes and villains, The Bats and The Jokerz, take this time to go to war in the streets. This results in some of the most unique fun I’ve had in a FPS since Battlefield 3 and Mordern Warfare 3 released months ago.

Gotham City Impostors was developed by the very talented individuals at Monolith Productions. Monolith is responsible for many great FPS over the years such as No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R., Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, Condemned, and the highly regarded Aliens Vs. Predator 2 PC game from 2001. So it’s a no-brainer that these guys know what they are doing when it comes to making first person shooters. And it shows in the gameplay of GCI thoroughly. GCI takes elements from other games on the market like Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2, and a few others and puts together something that is very unique that oozes with fun factor. And like the many of games GCI borrows from there are a variety of gametypes that range from Team Death to variants of Sabotage, Domination, and King of the Hill but have been renamed to fit this game. For example, Sabotage is called Psych Warfare. Domination is called Fumigation, which has players capturing three gas emitting devices of death. Capture all three and the opposing team will be killed off in a way that pays homage to The Joker or Batman. And really, that’s what makes the game unique is that even though it has elements used in other popular games it also puts enough of its own Batman-esque flair into the game via gadgets and customization that it feels truly different.

Customization in GCI is something that will keep players coming back for more action. GCI has TONS of customization options for players to unlock and utilize. There’s an experience system in place similar to Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty that awards points for kills, assists, and other factors. These points allow leveling up with in turn awards unlock keys for weapons, weapon mods, gadgets, camo skins, character body types, faces, calling cards (seen by whoever you kill), voices, costume pieces, fun facts (perks), etc. So, there’s a whole lot…repeat, A WHOLE LOT of unlockable content. Players also have the choice to unlock this content by playing, leveling up, and using earned in-game tokens or just using microtransactions to buy the unlocks DLC style with real money. Some upgrades are also unlocked by completion of various in-game challenages like x-amount of kills with a certain weapon. Either way, GCI lets you build your Bats or Jokerz the way you want to play the game the way you want to play. For a look at the possiblities of in-game customization, take a look at this Gotham City Impostors trailer entitled “Simple Math”.

Gotham City Impostors makes its mark by use of customization which helps to create a gameplay experience both similar and new to FPS gamers. The gunplay of GCI is very familiar to anyone who has been playing more recent FPS, as is the experience point system. But toss in the ability to have players gliding around in the air from the top of buildings or trampolines or air vents and then dive bombing down on their opponents. Or highly mobile opponents who choose to rollerskate around the map, hitting ramps for big air and avoiding gunfire. There are the classic, yet homemade, Batman style grappling guns that will pull players up to any rooftop or across a huge open gap between areas. Spring boots that allow players to hop around super high and rain death bullets from above. In addition to gadgets, players also get to assign two Fun Facts (perks) that range from Regeneration to being invisible on the radar to having your bullets penetrate deeper, and a number of other abilities. There’s even a Rampage ability that can be assigned that works by whatever its requirements are to activate. One such Rampage is based on doing 1200 points of damage without dying and allows the player to go on a double damage spree for 15 seconds. Unlike some other games, this is all balanced nicely as nothing is truly overpowered and there’s some kind of counter for all customizations. Even the body type that players choose to play with have differing stats in health, speed, melee damage (for those knife kills), etc. All of this customization opens the door to GCI having some great combinations of player styles in multiplayer matches.

For $15 or 1200 Microsoft Points it would be hard to tell someone not to give Gotham City Imposters a try. Honestly, I have seen games that cost four times as much have a lot less quality and dedication in creating a good product. A arcade game of this quality comes every once in a blue moon. I had the pleasure of experiencing something rare like this when I reviewed Monday Night Combat long ago. And to think that there was possibly a chance that GCI might have never even went into developement at all. The word is that Monolith Productions came to Warner Bros. wanting to make this game during the time Batman: Arkham City was in development. Thankfully, Warner Bros. gave them a chance and as a result gamers have something fun, unique, and highly replayable for a fourth of the price of most retail games. Though there were some initial bugs and matchmaking issues on release day (all patched up now), there’s just not too much wrong I could find with this downloadable title. The game comes with five maps, three gametypes, and a challenge mode. The hit detection is spot on and there’s never any question as to why someone didn’t die or why you died. No magic curving bullets that follow you around a corner. Headshots count! Seriously, they are part of the game’s balancing. Perks are fun and not uber unbeatable. The guns all have their own feel and learning curve. Graphics are decent, the game runs at about 30 frame per second, the voices are hilarious, and the art style fits the comedic nature of the game. There’s even a nice Pipboy-like Batman dressed in office attire that shows players how to use each unlocked gadget…in comedic style of course. Does Gotham City Impostors have longevity is the question most potential players will likely ask? The gaming community ultimately decides that, but with a possible 1000 levels to reach in-game the developers certainly expect people to be playing for a long time. Folks, this is a big win for first person shooter fans (not fanboys) who are willing to give something different a fair and open-minded chance. Gotham City Impostors is a refreshing new entry in a genre overrun with stale first person shooters.

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Platform: PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment
Reviewed Version: XBOX 360