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Gotham City Impostors
Score: 88%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Monolith
Media: Download/1
Players: 1(Tutorial/Challenges only) / 8-12 (To Start Match)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Themed/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
What's Gotham City Impostors, you might ask? Think of it as the Batman game in which you don't get to play as Batman. In fact, with the exception of a cameo in the intro video at the beginning of the game, the old bat's not even to be seen! In his place, what you have are a bunch of do-gooders dressed up in capes and various assorted bat-ear-adorned headgear running around trying to thwart my dear, lovable, albiet heavily-armed, clowns. I ask you, what is the world coming to when an armed clown can't unload a few rounds as he skates down the street without having to worry about being shot in the head by a pair of thugs with bats painted on their shirts and springs and beachballs strapped to their feet?!

This game is all about warring gangs: my loving league of laughing larsens, referring to themselves as "The Jokerz" and Batman's self-appointed (and utterly unofficial) day-shift replacements, "The Bats." The Jokerz adorn themselves in appropriately clownish attire and painted faces, while The Bats try their best to resemble their namesake, making the best Batman costume they can manage - whether it be a knit cowl, a cape from a vampire costume and sneakers or a rubber cowl, a towel and a big "B" grease-painted on a beer-belly left over from football season. Of course, there's also a skimpy outfit for the femme fatale on either side, if you can rack up the ample fee in your choice of Costume Coins or cash via PSN microtransaction.

There are five different arenas, most of which are Gotham City locations that would be familiar to Batman fans for one reason or the other, all of which have a strange combination of highly colorful elements and a dirty, gritty appearance. These aren't the good parts of Gotham. You'll see Amusement Mile, Gotham Power, the Docks and two places that really "made-the-man," if you will... Crime Alley and Ace Chemical. All of these do a good job of giving that gritty Gotham feel, I think; it feels like home.

The sounds in Gotham City Impostors are over-the-top. The standard guns have realistic reports, but the gimmicky gadgetry and wonderful toys have sounds indicative of the make-shift manner in which they were made. The Trap-in-the-Box (one of my fave-o-rites, mind you) is a militarized, proximity-sensing jack-in-the-box with a bang of a punchline. Until it gets tripped, however, it sounds as unassuming as any jack-in-the-box would, with faint high-pitch tinkling notes as it sits in wait. The Grappling gun is built with a fishing rod and when it's in use, you hear the sound of someone reeling in a catch. In this case, they are the catch of the day!

The music in the menus has a nice tempo, but I wouldn't try dancing to it. It's a bit dark and melodramatic, most likely something from the ape-crusader's playlist, I'd guess. The most annoying thing, however, is when other players are using a headset because YouTube stopped accepting entries in their monkey video channel. On a few occasions, I had to listen to some boobs and boneheads that make Beavis and Butthead sound ready for a presidential debate. Of course, when the high-scoring military-gaming Call of Duty commando guy had to leave shortly after I heard a peep out of his rugrat... that was, at least, somewhat amusing. Bwahahah...

Anyone who knows that bumbling buffoon, Batman, knows that he's all about non-lethal methods of apprehending baddies. As the leader of the Bats points out, Batman has much greater resources which allow him to be more virutuous. The Bats, with their limited funding, can't afford to go the non-lethal route that their caped-crusading mentor does; instead they use guns. And throwing stars. And axes, bows, pipe bombs and rocket launchers... to name but a few. In fact, as it turns out, my Jokerz and the Bats use exactly the same arsenal, although the appearance may vary slightly between the two, so either way, you'll have a wide variety of weapons to choose from, as well as several modifications for each one, from ammo that can penetrate thin walls, to mods that affect how your targeting scope works, to extended clips for more ammo before reloading, to mods that help you detect the locations of your enemies by sniffin' 'em out for ya.

In addition to two weapons of your choice, you will get to choose a support item and a gadgets to help you along. As you play, you will earn several Custom Load-Out slots, allowing you to set up gear combinations you like and naming them for easy recognition later. I find that I will choose my initial load-out based on the map and the game type, and then change up my load-out before respawning if I find I need to change my strategy.

Ah, but I haven't even mentioned the game types, yet; my bad. There are three different game types to choose from: Team Deathmatch, Fumigation and Psych Warfare.

Team Deathmatch is pretty much what it sounds like - bat on clown explosive action, with no holds barred, and no bars held... except for the pipe bombs and the impact grenades, of course. The first team to reach fifty points wins the match unless time runs out first, then highest score wins. Oh, and if the time runs out with an even score? It's sudden death time! Woohoo!

Fumigation is a sort of king of the hill type match, except there are three hills for your team to capture and hold for a certain amount of time to win. ...and by hills, I mean Gasblasters - gas-belching devices that can either puke forth my nasty, naughty nerve toxin or the fearless fumblers' bat-attracting fumes. Either they summon the poor defenseless flying mammals to do the Bats' dirty work or we leave 'em laughing on their way out. Either way, it's great fun, don't you think?

In Psych Warfware, each team finds themselves with a device built to propagate a proliferation of propaganda, but, alas, there's only one battery to run them... so you have to take turns. (I say we go first. C'mon, Bats, whadda ya say?) Bah, at any rate, you want to get the battery into the device and protect it long enough for it to do its groove thing, because once it starts blaring, the enemy team will be dazed, disarmed and demotivated, finding themselves unable to use any weapons or gadgets... why, they're sitting bats! Shoot them for extra yummy bonus points, but don't get close enough to let them slap you to death. That would be a sad joke, indeed.

First Person Shooters are an interesting case study when it comes to difficulty. Some of them, such as Gotham City Impostors, are exclusively online multiplayer games. As is true of multiplayer gameplay, the difficulty is greatly dependent on the relative skills of the players involved, both individually and as teams. This is definitely true of Gotham City Impostors, as the only non-multiplayer gameplay to be found is a brief tutorial and a Challenges section that serves as a way to practice using your various equipment.

To some degree, the difficulty is managed a bit by the matchmaking system, which does a reasonable job to make the two teams evenly matched, even if this occasionally means several lower ranked players against a much higher ranked player and a couple of team members. More importantly, however, Gotham City Impostors gives players opportunities to score and advance based in a slew of different ways. This is especially true of supporting roles, which can make all the difference in a match, if done well. Support roles, such as using the Targeting Goggles to mark the locations of enemies for your teammates to take them down or the using the Motivator, a megaphone that will heal your compatriots if you catch them in its blast, let you help your team win without depending on your ability to shoot or stab your enemies... and, when you get an unlock for the Psych Evals, you can choose one that will get you special bonuses for these team actions, if you like.

By the time you get an unlock for Psych Evals, you should have a good idea of your strengths, weaknesses and your playstyle. Consider these carefully when deciding which Psych Eval to unlock.

As you play, you will be awarded keys to unlock additional weapons, mods, character body types, faces and voices, so playing is the key to getting more gear. Most customizations that can be earned can be purchased, however, so if you unlock a weapon and don't like it, you can use some cold hard cash to purchase a weapon unlock to try a different one, if you can't wait it out.

You can also vote to skip a map when you're waiting for a match to start. As you get familiar with the game, you may find that certain maps work better for your style of gameplay. The Docks features a water hazards (the river, duh), warehouses, nice gliding opportunities and quite a few shipping containers, for example, while Gotham Lights and Power, has electrical hazards, and some nice vantage points. Ace Chemical Plant has chemical hazards and some nice places to hide, wheras the Amusement Mile has no environmental hazards that I can think of, but has a few really hot hotspots and not a lot of good hiding places, making for more feverish action. Crime Alley is basically a run-down city block flanked with alleys on all sides and with some gas hazards as barriers, a nice, easy-to-use circuit to fly around, some nice places to hide and some interesting sniping opportunities.

Game Mechanics:
Sadly, there are a lot of issues with Gotham City Impostors. Mainly, there are a lot of strange issues with the lobby system. These take the form of extended waits in the lobby as you watch the game trying to find other players, a player list that will occasionally load full of players only to empty back out completely, a gang map that sometimes won't load and other annoying strangeness that seems to primarily be the expected results of lower production quality and the game not being prepared to handle unexpected conditions, such as players losing their connections.

Some of these issues may very well be addressed in later patches. For one, I have read that an upcoming update will allow for players to drop into ongoing games. This would take a lot of stress off the lobby, as players could fill in spots in ongoing games where they fit in better, rather than having high and low level players grouped together in strange groupings. Hopefully, this update will either include the ability for the game to recognize that there are no remaining players on one of the teams (and end the match, already!) or this feature will correct the issue by directing incoming players to fill these slots.

One more serious issue that I personally experienced was something that resulted in loss of data. I lost seven levels of gameplay, complete with costume pieces and weapon upgrades. It was really annoying. However, Monolith is actively working on making this issue right and will be restoring players' experience and Costume coins in several waves in the near future until, as they say, it is all fixed.

Gotham City Impostors can be very fun and addictive, with each victory leading you to want to complete that next Feat of Prowess to unlock that thing you've been working toward, whether it be the adorable atomic Afro for your clown costume you're building or that preposterous cape for your favorite do-gooder. It can be loads of fun for shooters and support-types, alike... just be patient for the load times and wary of wonky user interface issues until they get resolved in an upcoming patch. Hey, a clown can dream, right?!

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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