Two teams of homicidal maniacs are running riot on the streets of Gotham, and thereâ€™s no sign of Batman. Thatâ€™s because itâ€™s Gotham City Impostors, the online multiplayer shooter from Monolith Productions. It puts Modern Warfare in clown face-paint, Battlefield in a pair of animal print bikini briefs, and unleashes twelve-player mayhem between the totally insane Jokerz and the possibly even more insane Bats.
Just donâ€™t expect a story mode to set it all up. Although the tutorial does give you a brief back-story, where the Bats decide that, since they donâ€™t have Batmanâ€™s unlimited resources - or his arsenal of hi-tech gadgets, they are going to clean the streets of Gotham by any means necessary. More specifically, with guns and lethal force. And the Jokerz are more than happy to contest them.
After the intro, the tutorial gives you a look at some of the gameâ€™s standard gadgets. It takes you through how to use your grappling gun, as well as giving you a quick turn on your roller-skates and a chance to try out gliding and diving. Itâ€™s all over pretty quick and soon youâ€™ll be looking forward to jumping into the online fray.
However, those with a bit more sense might take the time to hit the challenge mode. Here you use your gadgets in a series of timed runs, and more importantly get a look at the maps. With six locations, from The Docks, to the 25th Floor, and the essential Amusement Park, all the maps look great, and while theyâ€™re not big they are complex enough to keep things interesting.
As well as giving you a look at the maps, the challenge mode also gives you the chance to earn experience points. And, as with all online shooters, to compete against all those Kim Dotcoms that are on level 80 the day after the gameâ€™s released (there's no way at the front end to avoid them), youâ€™ll need to level up quick. Happily, Gotham City Impostors has an energetic arcade feel and a very deep levelling system where you can add all sorts of stuff, both cosmetic and combative, to your personalised Joker or Bat.
To begin with, you can choose one of the five different body types starting with the small Speedy type up to the slow but heavily-armoured Mighty. Or, you could go for the more balanced Tough or the big fat Burly. Or, the slim and curvy female Nimble who is reasonably quick but, you get it, nimble. Now, Iâ€™m not one to judge but thereâ€™s an awful lot of players out there who choose the Nimble female Joker. Which is a good tactical option. Except, all the grubby sexist misogynists feel the need to spend all their coins buying two of the most expensive pieces of clothing for her, the bra and panties. Itâ€™s... well, itâ€™s... actually itâ€™s kind of cool, so forget what I just said and carry on lads.
So how does it play? Pretty good. Itâ€™s all good, clean, frantic, violent, chaos. One round youâ€™re a big fat Clown getting killed by a boomerang, the next youâ€™re wearing a Batman cowl made from a paper bag. With all the weapons, modes, and gadgets it takes a bit to try them all out and see what works for you. Throwing axes, dive-bombing, bouncing off trampolines while on roller-skates, it all takes practice. But that is exactly what you want from a game. So, choose your mods carefully and put in the time.
To help keep things interesting, Gotham City Impostors has three different game modes. The self explanatory Team Deathmatch, Fumigation - where you have to take and hold three locations, and Psyche Warfare - the capture-the-flag mode. The times I played Deathmatch the game ran perfectly. Fast and smooth, online arcade action at itâ€™s best. However, Fumigation and Psyche Warfare had problems with freezing and lag. Not sure if it was coincidence, New Zealandâ€™s world famous Internet, or something else, but Deathmatch always ran fine, while the others continually had problems.
Problems aside, once you go up a few levels you can start editing your loadouts. You have two weapon slots that take everything from bazookas to bows. Weapon mod slots for scopes, special ammo, or sniffers that show enemies through walls. As well two Fun Facts that give you a weapon and armour boost. You can also choose a support item, anything from a pipe bomb, a bear trap to body armour.
As mentioned earlier, there are also gadgets. Gadgets range from the glider rig which gives you limited flight time, to the grapple gun, spring boots, or targeting goggles. Itâ€™s a surprising amount of content for a downloadable game.
Another great little option is assigning your rampage. As well as the typical rampage bonuses for dealing damage, for those of us who rarely get ten kills in a row, Gotham City Impostors lets you activate speed, armour, and damage bonuses if you die five times in a row without a kill. Not the most manly option, maybe, but what do you expect from a sexy sociopath in clown make-up and bikini briefs. And thatâ€™s a sexy, male, sociopath in clown make-up and bikini briefs. What kind of a freak do you think I am?
Despite the odd frustration, the sorts of things that you still get from the high profile full price games that is, and the fact that you have to sign in to both your XBL and Warner Bros. accounts - even to play the challenge mode, Gotham City Impostors is an absolute blast. At 1.9 gigs ( 2.2 if you count the recent free DLC), itâ€™s a good chunk of your cap, but well worth it.
Itâ€™s not the most original idea for a game and there may be some technical issues to be worked out. But, from the all the unlockables, the endless mixture of clothes, rewards, weapons, mods, and kill phases like â€˜Let me spray you with my awesomeâ€™, Gotham City Impostors has plenty of awesome to go round.