I know what many you’re thinking when you hear someone mention Gotham City Impostors (GCI): “just what we need, another first person shooter”. On one hand, you’re right, it is another first person shooter; on the other hand, it also happens to be a ton of fun. Although it appears to be more of the same on the surface, gamers who choose to give the game a chance will find out that it is honestly a bit of a breath of fresh air for the genre. Monolith Productions has taken the core mechanics of a tried and true gameplay genre and elected to throw any and all seriousness out of the window. Sure, it’s a shooter but it is the most nonsensical shooter on the market.
At its heart, GCI is a straight forward FPS modeled off of the current trends of the genre. Everything that you have come to expect from leading titles in the genre makes an appearance here. You have character leveling, a robust content unlocking system, weapon attachments, and a variety of customization options to make your characters truly, well, “yours”. As you play through the various matches and challenges, you earn experience which will build up your character’s level. Each level awards you access to new features and character customization categories as well as tokens to unlock more weapons and equipment.
You have heard all of this before; GCI doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and that is perhaps the best decision that the development team made. The only major change from the Call of Duty and Battlefield games of the world is that the equipment that you unlock isn’t determined solely by your specific levels. Instead of level X awarding you a certain gun, it awards you a gun-related unlock token, which you can then cash in to unlock any weapon in the game that you don’t have. Other levels might award you gadget unlock tokens or a perk (called Fun Facts) token, and even a gadget unlock token. This is great for helping you quickly assemble a character loadout that is completely to your liking; I am sure we have all been at that point in something like Black Ops where we want a specific weapon or attachment but have to work our way through 30+ levels just to get it. That won’t be a problem here; you can pick and choose the content that you want to unlock, from an equipment perspective, pretty easily.
Not everything is as simple as picking and choosing your “unlocks” though; there are some features that are tied to specific levels. Things such as the ability to customize your costume(s) and gangs (think clans) are unlocked at a particular level. The grind to those levels is infinitely more enjoyable though because you can tailor your gameplay experience along the way by obtaining the weapons and equipment that you want every step of the way.
In addition to earning experience points, participating in matches will also earn you a slew of costume coins which can be spent on unlocking additional cosmetic options. This is where the game shows a lot of charm; one of the biggest draws of the experience is the idea of crafting your own unique Bats / Jokerz character creations. You have the ability to inject your own style and personality into these already outlandish characters, which is something that Batman fans will surely enjoy.
While the game offers a lot of content in terms of weapons, gadgets, and personalization options, it serious lacks that same variety when it comes to the actual gameplay options. There are only three gameplay modes and 5 maps featured in the game. The gameplay modes are all the standard multiplayer options that you would expect in an FPS: team deathmatch, capture and hold (Fumigation), and capture the flag (Psych Warfare). Those are the only options that you have and quite frankly it would have been nice to see some of the same creativity that went into the aesthetics of the game applied to the gameplay options.
That lack of variety also extends to the map options, though to a lesser extent. The 5 levels that are present in the game are varied and interesting in their own right, but considering how much time you are expected to sink into the game, they will grow old very quickly. Most gamers have likely spent a ton of time on 2 of them (Amusement Mile and Crime Alley) in the open beta that ran in the weeks prior to the game’s release. GCI challenges you to spend a ton of time in the game in order to unlock everything and it gives you a good set of tools (fundamentals) to do so, but this lack of variety doesn’t create an atmosphere that drives you to make the most out of it. There is some relief as free DLC has already been released for the game, which includes one additional map, but the game needs more.
It is worth noting that the game also offers a “convenience fee” option of accessing everything it has to offer in terms of unlockables; you can purchase nearly everything that can be unlocked in the game immediately for a price from the Microsoft Marketplace (or corresponding platform-specific store). A lot of people have made a fuss over this but there isn’t anything offered that you can’t obtain through some hard work and dedication by playing the game. The few items that are “sale only” are a few mascots and costume options, all of which are merely cosmetic and serve no benefit to actual gameplay. If you want to pay a few bucks to take some of the fun out of the game, more power to you but I cannot imagine why you would.
You should know going in though that GCI is a multiplayer game; if you don’t play online, there isn’t really anything here for you. The only remnants of a single player experience lies in the game’s challenge mode. This option puts you in a series of challenges meant to test your abilities with the games various gadgets and weapons and prepare you for multiplayer. There are a ton of challenges to work through, and completing them will earn you experience which further levels your character. The mode also helps to familiarize you with both the tools of mayhem and the 5 maps of the game, as they will place you in scenarios that feature all of them at some time or another. The first level of challenges starts off rather simple, challenging you with reaching a series of points on the map using specific gadgets; they will get tougher as you progress though. Eventually, they mix in weapon usage and advanced tactics, all while still putting you under the pressure of a clock.
While I love playing Gotham City Impostors, I can’t help but wish that there was “more” to it. Sure, there are a ton of unlocks to collect and tons of customization options, but the map and gametype variety, or lack thereof, leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, free DLC has been released which adds a new map and a couple of new weapons, but gamers will still be left wanting more. From that perspective, GCI’s biggest downfall is its lack to meet its full potential. What’s here is great, but it could have been so much more and regardless of how much you enjoy the game, you are left with a burning desire for it to be more. All in all, if you are looking for a competent and cheap shooter to play with your friends, GCI will give you just that. The game is frantic and fun and aims only to entertain and ultimately it does so in the end.