You wanna get nuts? Come on, let's get nuts!
The announcement and subsequent release of Gotham City Impostors brought with it pretty much a unanimous reaction: "wait, what?" A first-person shooter from the team behind such franchises as No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R and Condemned based around the Batman universe? It is kind of an honest reaction though since the very concept is just so bizarre and in the multiplayer space occupied by Halo, Gears of War, Battlefield and the juggernaut that is Call of Duty, not to mention the countless me-too's seen throughout the year, do we really need another shooter? But the game does manage to make the genre space a lot more livelier and weird since it stands out just based on its concept alone. It is taking a lot of familiar concepts while injecting some originality and even some welcome changes which makes it easy to get into for fans but also having some tricks up its sleeve to try to win you over. While there's some things that absolutely have to be addressed, it's a welcome change from all the seriousness that pops up in the shooter genre.
The concept is simple: you play as Batman and Joker wannabes dressing up in homemade attire from simple jeans to spray-painted logos, cardboard cowls and bunny slippers, and win the round. It's a light-hearted and more "zanier" approach to a superhero license which is quite refreshing since usually they're treated with the utmost respect to the degree where things are played safe as to not anger any fanbase. Gotham City Impostors meanwhile throws this concept out the window and makes it okay for you to play as a Batgirl cosplayer in a bra roller-skating around a map shotgunning people in the face. The amount of customization is part of the charm since there is something oddly alluring about seeing so many different versions of Batman and Joker in such ridiculous looking clothing.
Once again we have a progression based multiplayer where every level you gain will allow you access to unique weapons, gadgets and other such tools to help you take on the opposing team. It combines the traditional rigid system of unlocking certain bonuses or unlocks at specific levels while providing you the option to select exactly what you choose to unlock. For example, the game might give you an unlock point to spend on a new perk (called "fun facts") at a specific level but exactly what fun fact you want to equip is entirely up to you. This also applies to exactly the kind of character you want to make since other than some weapons slowing you down, this isn't a class-based shooter per se. In essence, there's nothing stopping you from making a skinny or fat Joker player gliding around the map with an RPG and sniper rifle. You're no longer relegated to specific "roles" during the match and it comes down to your particular playing style and character build in a match.
And it's in these different methods of playing which really makes GCI a refreshing change of pace. No longer do you need to run for a minute across the map only to be killed by a camper. Just zipline 50 yards in about 5 seconds. Glide up in the air and divebomb on unsuspecting players or use goggles to highlight enemy players for the other team (kind of like a recon drone). These methods of getting around the map make matches a lot more faster paced and generally more exciting.
One option does impact your gameplay a bit and that's a psych profile. At level 30, you can equip a profile which will give you XP benefits should you play in a specific way. Tend to do more objectives and team assistance than kills? Get some bonus XP. Is your team winning? Bonus XP. Is it losing? Penalty. Since my playing style is more situational where I might end up doing anything I need to, I never equipped one but if you tend to play a certain way, at least the game rewards you which will be a benefit since there's a LOT to unlock. From catchphrases, backgrounds, character clothing, and there's a reward for reaching level 1000, clearly Monolith wants you to play nothing but this game to get everything.
Having a lot of stuff to earn works if there's a lot of game underneath and unfortunately, Gotham City Impostors not only lacks enough things to do and play on but it even falters during that process. The game comes with 3 gametypes: contractually-obligated-to-attend Team Deathmatch, a domination-type mode called Fumigation where you capture what are called gasblasters which'll gas the enemy team if you win and vice versa and a play on Sabotage called Psych Warfare. A neutral battery will spawn in the map and you must capture it and install it in the enemy team's propaganda machine. Defending it until it goes off, the other team loses the ability to shoot, will always appear on the mini-map and can only attack via slapping (one-hit kill with 50 of them providing an achievement/trophy). With only 5 maps, content will be re-played way too often for my liking.
That's if you can even get in since GCI's matchmaking ranges from serviceable to decent to pisspoor. Getting into a lobby is one hurdle, having it be filled enough to allow a game is another, having the teams balanced (i.e: not every high-levelled player on one team) is another and even in mid-match, the game doesn't know it has a 5 vs 2 situation and decides to re-balance or just cancel the match. Granted there's a free title update complete with additional goodies, a new map and a better matchmaking which'll add a join-in-progress feature, having it not be at launch even with a beta is just Shooter 101 and why GCI screws this up is beyond me. Monolith did support Fear 2's multiplayer even when the population got thinner as time went on so there's no doubt GCI will benefit from more updates but at launch, the game is fun when it's actually working.
Wow, long review but there was so much ground to cover so better to provide plenty of details to help purchasing decisions then not enough adequate support. And Gotham City Impostors can be a tricky game to promote and recommend since it's both yet another shooter on platforms that typically don't have thriving communities with not enough maps and gametypes and an at-launch busted matchmaking to providing some of the most raucous and crazy fun in a shooter in awhile. There's enough here to give it a go and issues will be ironed out; it's just unfortunate they weren't already gone at release.