I am genuinely afraid for Gotham City Impostors. I'm afraid that I'll buy it on release, enjoy it for a month or two and then see its player base melt away. I'm afraid that people will hear the concept and skip out on trying the game. I'm afraid shooter fans will look down their noses at the title.
I'm afraid it won't do as well as it deserves to.
The Gotham City Impostors open beta period for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms started at the close of last week. I was fortunate enough to land a code and dive into the action over the course of the weekend. I've since spent some time in both of the available gametypes across several classes and loadouts. The game is, honestly, fun as shit.
It's a Batman title only in name, locale and style; otherwise, Gotham City Impostors would be easily described as a fun, objective-based shooter. Shooting and Batman don't necessarily mix; well, they mix, but the only time Batman holds a gun is when he's breaking it in half over his knee before choking out his unknowing enemies.
The mayhem here is split between teams of opposite characters: fake Batmen and Clowns. The beta included two objective-based modes for these teams to duke it out over: Fumigation and Psych Warfare. Both are plays on traditional game variants.
Fumigation is a lot like Capture & Hold. There are three capture points on the map that players fight to control. Once controlled, toxins are released in the air that kill other players. Control the majority for a set amount of time and win the match.
Psych Warfare is a lot like a neutral bomb game. Teams fight to grab a single battery and plant it on their generators. Once planted, and this is where the gametype gets awesome, the batter will slowly fire up a motivation or de-motivation engine. Essentially, voices will tell the winners they are awesome while telling the losers they should give up. The losers drop their weapons and rely on woozy slaps for combat. The result is hilarious.
The actual gameplay varies based on the way you build your characters and loadout. You can use roller skates, for instance to move faster at the cost of maneuverability. Or, you can wear gliders to bounce off of trampolines or over air vents in order to cover big spans of each level quickly. These types of boosts and unlocks work to keep the game fun throughout.
Character customization is emphasized heavily throughout this experience. That, so far, goes well beyond just picking guns and equipment… you'll be styling your appearance as well. The smattering of images that accompany this write-up should serve as a fair indication of what to expect. They aren't stock looks; they are appearances built by players. Genders and body type are restricted to class style and movement, but clothing and accessories are unique features to be unlocked through play.
That type of control over look and play style will contribute greatly to the longevity of this game. Furthermore, if Monolith (the title's developer) plans to support this product with downloadable costumes, weapons, characters and maps, players may stick with this title for a good while before moving on.
This title, aside from smooth gameplay, comes down to a perfect blend of humor and fun. The equipment, weaponry and gametype design are all based around having a good time at high speeds. That translates to arcade-y fun. The humor steps in by way of announcers, voice work, costume design and general silliness. The two couple together to make this an experience that will put a smile on your face.
It looks at other shooters and, seemingly, asks them why they're so serious…
Of final note is the game's stability. I waited a while for matches and often found myself booted before their conclusion. This is an open beta, so server issues are expected. Still, if these problems persist after the game launches, the final product will receive some major dings.
Gotham City Impostors will release on January 10th, 2012 for the XBLA, PSN and Games for Windows platforms. When the time comes, I heartily recommend you at least give the demo a chance. Don't skip this game entirely; if you do, you'll be missing a fun ride.