Gotham City Impostors Review:

GCI seems to have had a bit of a strange ride so far.  It started off as a regular retail game which went F2P not too long ago.  However, that said, it is by far one of the best F2P MOFPS games on the market!  Not only is it stylish and very familiar to us FPS fans, but also heavily balanced and, well, a Free to Play done right!  There are NO advantages in purchasing items with cash.  You can get things unlocked faster, yes, but that’s it.  Everything else is purely cosmetic.  That’s the way it should be!

But before the breakdown, let’s address the elephant in the room.  We’ve talked about cloning for some time now and in great detail.  How it’s kind of a drag to just copy/paste a game with a different guy walking away from the same explosion in the background, but back to the old argument, is that really a bad thing?  Is the concept of “clone” universally valid?  What I mean is, could some clones be just steps in gaming evolution?  There’s a reason why lots of games look like WoWcrafts!  And there’s a reason why most MOFPS games look like, well CoD.  Some things just work.  So if it works, you toss out the stuff that doesn’t and you keep going from there.  That’s the kind of evolution that brings a tear to ol Darwin’s eye!  I remember when these MOFPS games were first starting… *queue blurry flashback effect*  Why I was just a young lad and my game of choice was Delta Force.  Great game, but being one of the earlier multiplayer fps games, it had a lot of issues.  There were no achievements, not crazy progression, no intuitive matchmaking or any of that new fangled gadgetry!  We had good old fashioned leaderboards and wicked amounts of bodycounts!  Of course, security was an issue then, so there were plenty of cheaters, which were a scourge on the entire industry back then.  Totally nearly ruined PC multiplayer gaming as a whole.  But they learned, got better and one thing lead to another, yada yada yada, and here we are in the present with a lot of games that seem similar, but had undergone a history of natural selections to get there.  Point is, yeah, GCI looks like a CoD clone, but dangit, it’s a great clone and it’s free!

So what is Gotham City Impostors?  Well, a CoD clone!  Thought we just covered that!  >)  But it’s so much more.  It’s free for one!  Totally free!  And, well, if you couldn’t tell by the title of the game, it’s Batman themed!  That’s right, no more USA vs Russia or some other stupid thing like that.  No, it’s the Bats vs Jokers!  And once you get past the comical over the top style, like if the US Army was replaced with LARPers, then you’ll see that it’s a pretty solid multiplayer FPS game with a lot to offer!  I really don’t need to go much into detail about what this is, since I suspect that most of you know what Call of Duty is and what kind of multiplayer experience that entails, but I will say that once you forget that your character is wearing a cape, you’ll be sucked right into the action of a AAA level game you didn’t even have to pay a penny for!

Alright, let’s get started with the review!  I kind of changed the format and it’ll be explained a bit as we go.

Gameplay / Control
Definitely an important factor, especially with the MOFPS genre, however a little less relevant in regards to controls on the PC.  Your control layout is pretty standard, however I found some things a little clunky, such as switching between weapons using the mouse wheel.  I remapped that to the “1″ and “2″ keys pretty quickly.  Other than that, plays pretty normal.  Controls are very responsive and things move quickly and smoothly.  I rarely have hickups, except when matches first start, but usually nobody’s around to shoot me so it’s all ok.

Gameplay overall is very fun indeed!  There are many “classes” you can choose from and crazy amounts of custom classes to make!  The best part of GCI is the LOW barrier to entry!  My biggest issue with many multiplayer FPS (or any PvP) games out now is that folks that have been around a while have had a chance to level up, get massive gear with massive stats to do massive damage, which usually ends with you dieing a lot and not having a good time.  Being killed every 5 seconds is NOT fun.  And being told to “qq mor nub” is hardly helpful.  In PvP type games, you really see this discrepancy, where high ranking duelists can squash a new player in an instant.  Same with many FPS games where you need to spend time or money to unlock the good stuff.

Not with GCI!!!  Not only do you have access to 2 custom loadouts that you unlock weapons, mods, etc with every level you gain, but you can choose what to unlock AND are provided with 4-5 premade loadouts as well!  These are, of course, your standard heavy gunner, medic, sniper, rogue, etc type classes, but they are fully geared and balanced.  So for a noob such as myself, I am able to jump right into the action with equipment beyond my measly standard issue pistol of lameness.  You will obviously want to have a customized character later on, but as for getting down into the action right away, CGI makes it very friendly for newcomers.

The only major issue is with some class balancing.  While they do an amazing job with making everything work pretty equal, there are some combos you’ll run into that will cause you to rage out.  Such as the “heavy” body type (has extra health and melee damage) with a kitana sword and a flying perk, so you get divebombed from here to kingdom come.  Or the gosh darned rocket launchers!  Uhg!  No FPS should ever have those!  Cheap cheap cheap!  Other than that, most of everything else is pretty even steven.

There are 5 different modes for your gaming pleasure as well.  You have your standard issue Deathmatch, Capture The Flag, and Tug o War that no multiplayer FPS would dare release without.  Then you have some kind of 4th kind, Bounty Hunter… not sure bout that one.  Seems interesting though.  Finally you have Challenges that are “time attack” using the various gadgetry that you can do in singleplayer mode.  Standard stuff yes, but with 5 maps each, you won’t get bored too quickly.

The other issue is with getting into a match sometimes…  Not sure what the problem is, but sometimes it seems like it takes forever to get into any game other than the deathmatch or tug o war ones.  Then again, I’m impatient…

Replayability / Interest
Speaking of getting bored too quickly, if you’re an FPSer, then that won’t be an issue for you!  While it only has 4 real multiplayer modes and 5 maps between them, it really is an addicting game.  Sure, more maps or even custom maps would be great, but hey, Team Fortress 2 is the most popular game on Steam and as far as I know it only has that one map that everybody makes you play on…  uhg…

Anyways, like its CoD counterpart, there are a plethora of achievements to gain.  Hell, there’s probably an achievement for everything you can conceive of doing!  Well, except suicide bombing with the pipe bombs… I’m very disappointed… Took out an entire squad cause I held on a little too long…  Right, moving on… These achievements grant you lots of XP (that you need for unlocks), some have unlocks for paint jobs, and some give out costume coins (which you spend on cosmetic improvements and customizations).

As you level up, you get keys to unlock certain things, such as weapons, mods, gadgets, perks, etc… Now, while the type of unlock is set for every level, you have the ability to unlock WHATEVER you want!  So if you get a weapon unlock, you can get a kitana or sniper rifle or missile launcher… Whatever suits your playstyle!  While you’ll probably have a full custom loadout by your mid 20s, you’ll want to get all the other weapons/mods/etc to get the achievements for each.

All in all… pretty addicting gameplay.  Very replayable.  And if you’re a completionist (aka OCD) such as myself, you’ll be spending a great deal of your free time in the streets of Gotham City.

Well folks, here’s where this game hurts a bit.  While this game doesn’t necessarily bring anything new and exciting to the table, it’s also a product of evolution so the term “standard issue” is pretty apt in this sense.  Nothing wrong with being status quo, but it won’t be getting any Emmy awards either.

Here’s where you can have a bad routine but still stick the landing.  While GCI lacks innovation, it certainly makes up for it with style!  It’s a CoD game with Cosplayers!  The settings are pretty fun and grungy, yet colorful.  The standard multiplayer modes have a great style to them.  I mean really, there aren’t a lot of variations with the multiplayer modes.  It’s always deathmatches, capture the flag, tug o war, and king of the hill (wth is this in GCI?), but the trick is making it look and feel different.  CtF is stealing mind control batteries to make the enemy team go loopy and run around like dummies (but they can still slap you to death), ToW is capturing some kind of gas sprayers, and deathmatch is well… ok that’s still deathmatch.  Other than that, you’ve got some extra Batman flare for your standard issued modern shooter weaponry; such as a bird launching gun, bouncy electroball thingy, grappling hook, flying cape, springy shoes, boomerang (why not bat’erang we’ll never know), and more.  The other cool thing is the character customizations.  Sure, you get body types that have different stats, but you can unlock costumes, faces, and voices to make your toon your’s.  It errs a little on the cartoony side of realism, but for this type of thing it works well.

*People go on about graphics and music and all… that’s all fine and good but since we’re getting close to being able to make near photo realism in AAA games, this type of review category will probably be phased out.  Not because everyone will make super real awesome graphics games, but because it’s no longer going to be a selling point.  Folks try to out do everyone else, but once you hit the limit, what’s left?  Well, we see lots of games going back to the retro 8bit roots and do well… very well!  So I don’t think “graphics” or “sound” are qualities that are as important as the style or artistic merit.  Especially with the influx of the indie game movement with titles selling more than a AAA game, like I said, the level of graphics becomes a moot topic.

Uncanny Valley Factor
So here’s my game review category that’s pretty unique.  Everybody does graphics, but what about when they go wrong?  Again, Uncanny Valley refers to people specifically, but also other types of art as I have pointed out (copyright me) earlier.  UV basically means that as something gets more and more humanlike and more realistic, it will reach a point around the %80 photoreal area where people’s opinions of that character drops dramatically and it starts to look creepy or out of place… or just inexplicably “off”.  While this might be phased out when we reach a certain level of technology, I will also use this for describing any type of art or feature that is out of place and disconnects the player from the immersion to the game.

For GCI, the factor is kind of medium low since the human characters are mostly covered or painted up and that they are super stylized in a bit of an exaggerated, cartoonish even, way.  This lowers the threshold for Uncanny Valley, so it places these characters before the valley hits.  The forms are pretty seamless and highly rendered so there isn’t too much out of place.  However, there are quite a few things that are either “clipped” (meaning things like a cape, that go through the body) or hover (like a necklace that just hovers around the neck, or holding a gun without touching it…).  These types of things detract from the overall experience and require a great deal more err to the cartoon side before they can work (like Rayman with floating hands cartoonish).  This causes a failure to maintain an aire of reasonable belief, so when you see a neck tie hovering around a character’s neck, it sucks you out of the immersion and thus… Uncanny Valley (ish).  Yeah, I’m stretching the term a bit here, but I think immersion is very important in gaming, so anything that breaks that connection is a failure in communication.

Conclusion… It’s free.  It’s a free CoD type multiplayer FPS with a lot of depth, style, and replayability.  And it’s FREEEEE!  So… go on and get it!  Out of a possible 10 points on my Coffin Scale of Greatness, I give this 8 out of 10 Shakes!  So that’s pretty good!  5 is average… not that average is bad, it just wouldn’t turn any heads.  GCI however is definitely worth a look for a price you can’t beat!

Above Average
Above Average
Above Average
Uncanny Valley Factor