Gotham City Impostors PC Review
I can't even imagine how Gotham City Impostors came to life. The idea of a Batman game without any of the property's principal characters seems like it'd be a complete farce, a failure without end. But somehow, Warner Bros. and FPS-creating veterans Monolith Productions have made magic in this budget-priced, online-only competitive shooter, and they've even managed to do this without relying on the culture and attitude from any of the movies.
Impostors is an online-only shooter that's entirely based around teamplay. Fake versions of Batman and Joker going up against each other using a range of jury-rigged gadgets and weapons, arranged into some base classes and unlocked through the familiar Call of Duty-style ranking up and progression. With some impressive level design and a very unique attitude and look, it's pretty much guaranteed that you've never played a game quite like this.
It starts with some basic, solid shooting mechanics with submachine guns, assault rifles, rocket launchers, sniper weapons, and more, but gets more interesting with a wide range of gadgets and in-level gimmicks to give players more mobility. With the ability to use grappling hooks and glide, you've got to keep your eyes to the sky as well as checking around corridors and such, and all of these gadgets work well in each of the game's modes.
Many of the maps have a wide range of bright colors and some cool themes. You'll see winding, twisty maps like an abandoned circus, a more straightforward group of warehouses near a dock, and more - and the three gameplay modes (including a standard team deathmatch mode and a one-flag CTF variant called Psychological Warfare) all feel distinct when paired with each of the maps. The interplay of this map design, the interesting range of themes, the crazy weapons and gadgets, and the over-the-top interpretations of what look like the world's worst cosplayers duking it out really adds up to something kind of charming and fun. Sure, the game lacks the actual stars of the story, but for a team-based game that only works online, I found myself surprised at just how well it all worked together. (Admittedly, the budget price for Gotham City Impostors helped me to temper my expectations, too.)
As you level up, you'll get access to a lot of customization options that you'd see in any modern-day shooter, along with some crazy options that you won't, like your configurable Calling Card that others get to see, and your crazy Bats/Joker costumes that range from the downright awful to the downright awful-ler. Much of this stuff is goofy, but being able to play around with weapon and class customization amongst the rest of it ensures that there's still reason to progress and do well in your matches.
Unfortunately, there are some limits to Impostors' fun when it comes to the PC. Despite having solid controls and great visuals, the game relies on Microsoft's hated GFWL service, so even if you buy this game on Steam, that means you're logging into your Steam account, then your Xbox Live Gamertag, and finally your WBIE account, and for most PC gamers, that's two logins too many.
Additionally, games are limited to only 12 players in a match. I've read conflicting reports as to whether games are run on dedicated servers or not, and while I had no connection issues, that's just another limiting factor since there's no well-defined culture or mini-userbase on each named server. The size of each game isn't really an issue to me, as you can't just throw 32 people into any multiplayer game and expect it to be even better; the game and map design has to support that many people, too, and Impostors' tight maps actually make twelve players a pretty good fit (if not a very epic-sized one). But the GFWL implementation simply doesn't make for good community-building on PC like Steam has already been doing for several years now, so I don't see much in the way of long-term longevity of Impostors - even though Monolith and WB are putting out solid post-release support and DLC for the game.
In today's world of Battlefield 3's 64-player matches and Tribes Ascend's excellent aerial FPS action going into open beta in this last week, Gotham City Impostors is a pretty damn good budget game that has arrived at a bit of an inopportune time. In addition to that, I can't imagine there'll be much in the way of community support for this title, mostly because the game doesn't support modding, doesn't have dedicated servers, and lacks that long-running PC multiplayer-gaming pedigree. While Impostors is a blast to play for a good several hours at least, it lacks those few rudimentary building blocks that gives PC games the types of communities that last for years. It's unfortunate, too, because this game deserves better.
This PC review is based on a copy provided by Valve Software through Steam.