The idea behind Gotham City Impostors is that in Gotham, once Batman isnít around, there are two factions at war. On the one hand we have the Bats, Batman-lookalikes trying to enforce vigilante justice, sweeping crime off the streets. On the other hand we have the Jokerz, a ruthless gang of wannabe Jokers who like nothing more than spreading chaos via their petty crimes. The two factions oppose each otherís every move and the result is a shooting free-for-all in five different locations around Gotham City, though all of them are far enough away from civilians to ensure no innocents get caught in the crossfire.
The bulk of the game is multiplayer only, but when you first load up the game youíd be advised to play through Initiation which gives you a very brief run through of how the game works, and introduces you to some basic gadgets such as the glider, grapple-hook and roller-skates as well as the humour thatís prevalent throughout the game. With that done youíd be wise to give Challenges a go because it provides three levels of challenge using those same gadgets as well as introducing weapons. The basic challenges are a breeze (though getting gold isnít always simple), but the challenge ratchets up on Intermediate while Expert is not for the easily vexed.
On paper the game may sound a bit shallow, and in terms of game types it is, but the real depth comes from the amount of customization at your disposal. Each character has two weapons, two weapon mods, a support item and a gadget available for use at all times. Thereís a wide range of weapons to choose from including rifles, submachine guns, shotguns and launchers, as well as heavy weapons such as the ball-bearing shooting Shredder or the Deep Freezer, and an assistance weapon, the Motivator, which is basically a loudspeaker that temporarily boosts the health and defence of your teammates. Weapon mods do things like improve your accuracy, make your ammo blast through armour or give you a hint to an enemyís location by showing their body odor.
Your gadget usually determines your secondary mode of transport Ė you can fly around with the glider, zip around with the grapple, generate plenty of pace with the roller-skates or leap about with the spring boots and inflatable insoles. If stealth is more your cup of tea you can use ninja smoke bombs to become temporarily invincible or opt for the targeting goggles which allow you to spot enemies through walls and mark their location on your teammatesí map.
Very few items are available from the outset but you earn unlock tokens as you level up and these allow you to unlock the item of your choice, giving you a good reason to keep playing and earn the weapon, gadget or mod your heart desires. Make sure you pick wisely though Ė upgrade tokens run out much quicker than youíd like, and leveling-up slows down significantly as you progress. If you get impatient itís also possible to use real-life money to buy an item at any time, something relatively new to the PS3.
You can also customize your characters appearance, and while some things such as the face-paint of your Joker character, or the cape your Batman lookalike wears donít have an in-game effect, it can be fun to make a character with a semi-unique look. You earn costume coins used to buy costume items every time you play the game, but you wonít get many so if you want to really spice up your character youíll have to invest a lot of time (and I mean a LOT) or buy items with real-life money.
The body-type of your character does have an in-game effect and you can choose from one of five builds; speedy, nimble, tough, burly and mighty. Speedy and nimble characters get a bonus to their speed and are very small making them harder to hit, but heavier equipment will slow them down. Burly and mighty characters get bonuses to their health and melee but are easier to hit because theyíre much bigger. On the plus side they receive small or no penalty from heavy equipment. The tough build is very much middle of the road, and receives no bonuses or penalties.
So far as issues go Gotham City Impostors only has a couple, but theyíre big ones. The biggest issue is the poor match-making that results in lengthy waits when trying to play a game. Itís not uncommon to have waits of over five minutes, and a couple of times I waited longer than ten minutes to find a game, which is unacceptable in my opinion. The wait times are generally shorter for Team Deathmatch and longer for Fumigation and Psych Warfare which means youíll probably spend most of your time playing the former.
A second issue is a bug that is apparently wiping player stats completely. This bug hasnít affected my game but there are some reports of high-level characters losing everything, and thatís a major concern. Work has already begun on fixing both of these issues, but the match-making fix is still a few weeks away, while itís hard to speculate on a fix date for the stat-wiping bug. One other thing that bugged me is that you canít mute players using headsets. This is another issue that will be fixed next month, but it meant I had to mute my TV more often than Iíd have liked.
There isnít much music in the game but the effects are of high caliber for the most part. The weapons all sound beefy and explosions pack a decent punch. I enjoyed some of the one-liners you hear when you die, and the obscene Joker voice, complete with bleeps fits the mood well. Some of the voices are a bit annoying, and youíll hear many comments repeated, but thatís a small complaint really.
Gotham City Impostors doesnít feature a lot of different game modes, and while that will turn some people off, the deep level of customization available will appeal to just as many. For example, by selecting a different body-type, gadget and Fun Fact, you can totally change the way you play the game. The level design is intelligent and the action is fast and frantic. If youíre not suffering from first-person shooter burnout then Gotham City Impostors provides an entertaining and surprisingly deep game.
Review By: Mike Allison