You know what they say: when the bat’s away, the crazies will play… or something like that. That’s loosely the premise of WB Games’ upcoming team shooter, Gotham City Impostors. A couple of us here at Capsule were lucky enough to get into the beta over the weekend to get our vigilante on.
The game takes the Joker’s infamous advice, and employs a “not-so-serious” approach to itself – a nice contrast to Christopher Nolan’s increasingly gloomy Batman films. As such, Gotham City Impostors plays much like a cross between Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life: Counter Strike, with a tried-and-true team multiplayer structure dressed up in a playful atmosphere.
Batman and the Joker are away from Gotham City for undisclosed reasons (my guess is that they’ve eloped), and so two teams of unstable fans have emerged to battle it out in their absence, in classic Deathmatch and Capture-the-Flag style matches.
It’s probably best not to ask too many questions about the scenario, but the important thing is the game works. It plays a lot like Counter Strike, with the visual style of TF2, reimagined by Tim Burton. So expect fat guys in Joker makeup and hot chicks in Batman masks, duelling over territory of questionable strategic value.
Rather than being divided into classes, each player chooses their weapon combinations, from either preset loadouts or cobbling together their own sets to fit their play style. Levelling up unlocks more weapons and mods for them, as well as gadgets, which give players boosts or new abilities. These can allow players faster movement speeds, more damage resistance, etc, but others vary the gameplay further. The grappling hook can be used to zip out of danger in a pinch, or climb to a rooftop or balcony and pick off opponents from an unexpected vantage point. There are plenty of others we didn’t get to try, but the unique strategies these open up will keep players on their toes.
The only game mode on show so far was Psyche Warfare, which is essentially a reskinning of the staple Capture the Flag mode. Both teams compete to collect a battery in the middle of the map and use it to power their propaganda machine, defend it while it charges up, yada yada. The difference is, once it’s powered up and your propaganda is spewing everywhere, your opponents will be rendered as useful as shooting gallery ducks, confused and unable to attack. So celebrate your mini-victory by running around and picking them off – just watch out for their particularly shameful slap attacks.
Using the incapacitated enemy team as a reward system is genius, and shows off the sense of humour that permeates the game. Every aspect creates a consistently light-hearted, amusing tone, from the new approaches to classic gameplay mechanics, to the dialogue, to the wording of items in the menus. It’s not hilarious, but its self-aware sense of fun is refreshing.
The only problems I’ve seen with the game are the kind you’d expect to encounter in a beta, and the developers are ironing these out as we speak. I’m confident that once the final build is released, Gotham City Impostors will quickly find an enthusiastic, dedicated community.
The game will be available for download through the Playstation Network, Xbox Live and Steam early next year.