Batman: Arkham City ranks as one of our most anticipated titles of the year. Sequel to one of the most celebrated titles in recent years, the game looks set to build on the wonderfully executed concept of the first game. The game no doubt converted many non-fans to pledge their allegiance to the Dark Crusader and will no doubt line up to get the sequel day one. But what if their fanaticism went beyond merely picking up the game? What if our streets were flooded by Batman and Joker impersonators?
This is the question Gotham City Impostors attempts to answer. A digital release designed by the talented folks over at Monolith Productions. We got our hands on the game and stepped into the shoes of impersonators.
Impostors is a very traditional team based first person shooter, in which we take the roles of Bats or Jokers, two opposing factions consisting of awkward hooligans and look-a-likes of the two most famous rivals in the DC Comics universe. Before we even pressed start, the developers were keen to point out that this is not and never will be a class based shooter: even if players can choose different sets of weapons, the game is nothing like a Counter-Strike or Brink.
There are three different characters for each faction, even though their physical characteristics are limited to their weight and shape, and the consequential range of motion and strength. "The Nimble", is a lean and agile character, but of course more susceptible to bullets. "The Tough" is the balanced one, while "The Mighty" is the classic tank, slow, clumsy but able to endure more damage. And so we find ourselves in the shoes of bat-fatties, or thin-jokers.
The character design is interesting: you notice right away that these phonies have made their costumes themselves. Some wear briefs over the pants, others have a hood with a pair of Batman ears , while the tough bats, use a tablecloth as their cape. Lots of comedy to be found in their appearances, but that doesn't mean the game will stay away from violence. It should be said that all the violence here can be classified as "comic violence," with blood and explosions staying true to the comic art style.
Before each match you can select different sets of weapons. Here we can pair up the classic machine gun/shotgun combo, a more tactical choice with rifle and revolver, and so on. Each of the available sets provides us with access to a particular gadget, which in turn changes the manner in which we move about. There are grappling hooks that lets us zip rapidly across the map, but there are also spring boots, cloaks which allow you to glide or smoke bombs to confuse the enemy. As it turns out most of them did not feel as game changers, with the exception of the grappling hook, which given its range, allows you to quickly get in range of the enemy after respawning.
There are several game modes to choose from, ranging from your vanilla modes such as Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. During our hands-on test with the game, we sampled a mode in which you had to lay claim to three checkpoints within a set time limit. Basically a take on King of the Hill, made more complex by the fact that only four players make up each team.
Gotham City Impostors was undoubtedly one of the strangest games to be showcased at the Gamescom 2011 and probably one of the weirdest spin-offs to grace the world of gaming since Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. The game comes across as genuine accessible fun for a low price, which makes us forgive its shortcomings when it comes to production values.
Our brief encounter with the game was entertaining, even if we walked away with some doubts as to the lasting appeal of the simple concept. Gotham City Impostors will hit digital outlets early next year.