Gotham City Imposters: Barmy Batman shooter feels far from conventional
12th Dec 2011 | 16:03
There's a moment in the movie, The Dark Knight, where a group of vigilantes dressed as Batman try to take on The Scarecrow, an Eastern European gangster called Chechen and their respective groups of henchmen.
At some point the genuine article arrives, beats the hell out of everyone and leaves both the criminals and vigilantes cuffed to some railings. As he prepares to leave, he warns the Batmen that he'd better not find them fighting criminals again and rebuffs their claims they were just trying to help.
"What gives you the right," one of the Batmen retorts. "What's the difference between you and me?"
"I'm not wearing hockey pads," growls Batman, and drives off into the night.
It may sound unglamorous to state that Gotham City Imposters puts players into the boots of the blokes "wearing hockey pads", but it's actually a lot of fun. Monolith's offbeat FPS splits players into teams where they're playing either Batman or Joker wannabes that are involved in some sort of ongoing turf war.
Thankfully, there's no bona fide Dark Knight to disarm and apprehend them. It's one of the more interesting offerings we've seen in the genre for a while, even though, essentially it ticks a lot of the boxes players would expect from an online shooter.
As they would in any other FPS multiplayer, teams of players charge around a series of maps, blasting other players with an assortment of weapons, earning XP for kills and assists. This in turn allows them to purchase unlockables, which they can use to customise their loadouts in terms of the firearms, projectile weapons and special abilities they use, as well as their avatar's appearance.
What sets Gotham City Imposters apart from the pack, however, is that a lot of its aspects and mechanics make the experience of playing it rather zany. Special abilities, for example, take the form of Batman-themed and Joker-themed gadgets. These include (amongst others) a grappling gun players can use to reach high points in the map, roller skates that increase their speed and allow them to use ramps and a glider that gives them more airtime from each jump.
The weaponry, too, walks the line between standard issue and utterly barmy. The arsenal includes staples you'd find in any everyday shooter such as submachine guns, shotguns and assault rifles. However, it also includes items like the The Shredder, an SMG that fires ball bearings, and a deployable garden gnome with a tazer, whose function is to bring down any players gliding overhead.
More than a couple of weapons look distinctly homemade - the rocket-launcher, for example fires soda bottles filled with Nitro Glycerine - and skins and paintjobs are available for all of them.
The game's cosmetic options extend to the player's avatar and there's a lengthy list of unlockable clothes that players can mix and match to create outfits that look utterly ridiculous. Fancy a green-afro-sporting Jokersz gang member wearing patchwork coat and mini-skirt? It's yours if you earn it. Want to control a Batman vigilante wearing a cardboard mask, Bat-signal covered underpants and nothing else? Go wild.
Some of the match-types contained in Gotham City Imposters are silly, yet fun variations on the sort of contests offered in straight FPS online modes. Alongside the standard Team Deathmatch, we were able to play two other match types: Psychological Warfare and Fumigation.
The latter is a madcap take on the Domination match-type from Call of Duty multiplayer. In it, players have to take control of three gas pumps dotted about the map by hovering around them. The team that holds these pumps for the most time wins the match; if Jokersz win, the Bat team is gassed, and if the Bat team wins, their opponents are chewed up by a flock of bats.
Psychological Warfare is essentially Capture The Flag with a twist. In it, players have to pick up the battery for a brainwashing machine, and then trundle over to the opposing team's side of the map where one of the said machines is located. They then have to plug in the battery and defend the machine for thirty seconds as it powers up. Once that happens, the opposing team is stripped of their weapons for a brief period and can only attack by slapping their opponents.
On top of the different match-types, Gotham City Imposters has a challenge mode, in which players pick a gadget and then have to use it to hurtle around a map, collecting sparkly items.
All the challenges are time-based, and players receive medals based on how fast they're able to complete them. Not only is this a useful method for players familiarise themselves with the game's gadgets, but it's also a pretty good way to learn the maps.
Monolith made two of its game's maps available for these shenanigans; The Docks and Ace Chemicals. The Docks contains a few rickety buildings, quite a few tanker containers and one massive warehouse smack-bang in the middle of it, which is split into a series of rooms and passages.
Ace Chemical is a series of buildings decorated (if that's the word) with corrugated roofing and pipes leaking some sort of yellow fluid. The palette for both the environments and the players' avatars is suitably cartoon-like, being filled with bright colours and warped detail. They're also filled with catwalks, rooftops, trampolines and ramps, which allow for an exuberant run-and-gun style of play.
The mechanics in Gotham City Imposters may share a lot in common with other, more conventional FPS games, but its fun gadgets, outlandish weapons and left-of-the-dial match structures all combine to place it squarely outside the norm. There's much fun to had in Monolith's shooter, and it's fun of a distinctly boisterous variety.