Field Report: Gotham City Impostors
by Steve Watts, shacknews.com, Feb 17, 2012 12:00PM PST
Gotham City Impostors won me over in the beta. Now that the game is out, I'm pleased to report that I have only a few minor reservations. Taking sides in a Gotham gang war is still as novel as ever.
The game itself is still an explosively fun multiplayer shooter with its own unique style and personality. The increased map variety is full of pockets, corners, and obstacles to make each of the traversal tools really matter. The variety of weapons and special items leave tons of room for customization in catering to my own play style, or several styles with separate load-outs.
That said, the unlock order for those load-outs can be off-putting. The game constantly dangles carrots on a stick for the next level, but some choices seem out of sequence. For example, I'd like each of my custom load-outs to feature a different body type, but body unlocks are few and far between. More than once I've found myself with more weapon and mod unlocks than I know what to do with, since I'm saving them for my next build. Since weapon unlocks work for any weapon, and each weapon is described in detail, it was easy enough to find a set I liked quickly. Now I consider my first build complete, and I'm simply sitting on several other unlocks for fear of not having them once I gain access to another body type.
In addition to the curious item unlocks, Gotham City Imposters features the "Black Market," where you can spend real money on in-game items. It's slightly odd that a $15 game has such heavy influence from the microtransaction model; Monolith may have gotten a bigger boom out of making the game truly free-to-play, or even offering it at a lower price point to usher in more users. The transactions themselves are inoffensive.
At the moment purchases are limited to only a few selections: Calling Card backgrounds, plushy cosmetic Mascots that trail your character on the battlefield, and Consumables that grant a double XP boost for an hour. It costs 50 cents for a single-player boost for an hour, and a dollar to be the nice guy and boost everyone on your team. Costumes parts can also be purchased in the Edit Costumes menus, ranging from $1.50 to $4 apiece. Monolith has smartly kept the real purchases from giving players an advantage, other than letting you level up faster with an XP Boost.
The full game also adds a "Gangs" feature, which is still a mystery to much of the community. The meta game invites you to be a member of a gang -- like the Alley Cats, Wharf Rats, etc. Each is based on one of the maps, and players gain unlocks like Catchphrases for rising in the ranks. The process of leveling up in a gang, however, isn't very clearly explained, so it's hard to put much stock in your progress.
Impostors does suffer from a few technical issues. The match-making will sometimes inexplicably place several high-level players on one team versus newer players on the other, with one or two veterans to help them at best. These skewed matches don't happen often enough to turn me off, but it is something Monolith should address. Worst yet is the stat-resetting glitch. I haven't experienced it personally, but it made me nervous about playing the game for this impressions post. Chances are some players will decide not to take the risk, and swear off the game completely until the problem is fixed.
Those complaints are minor compared to the fun I'm having, though. Gotham City Impostors is a bizarre little gem of a game. Monolith put a lot of care into giving players plenty of customization options, and the constant rewards make it too easy to play just one more match.
Gotham City Imposters is now available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 for $14.99. For the purposes of this preview, Warner Bros. provided a code for the Xbox 360 version of the game. Shacknews spent 80MSP ($1) for two XP boosts.
Field Reports provide our first-hand experience with the latest games, but should not be considered a review.