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Gotham City Impostors E3 2011 Preview

One of the surprises at this year’s E3 was Gotham City Impostors. Developed by Monolith (the company behind the first two FEAR games) and Condemned and brought forward by WB Games, Gotham City Impostors is one of the more unique takes on Batman ever seen. Slightly dark but mostly lighthearted, Gotham City Impostors doesn’t even star Batman himself. Instead, players control a self-designed character that assumes special roles within teams inspired by Batman and his arch-nemesis, the Joker.

It stands up beautifully. A downloadable title coming to XBLA, PC, and PSN, Gotham City Impostors looks and feels like a disc-based shooter. Since it is so focused on multiplayer, don’t expect even a shred of single-player gameplay--but that's probably best for the game. Like Call of Duty, players can build custom loadouts for their crazy fans. “Inspired” is the right word here, as these are normal dudes and ladies who dress themselves to fit a campier side of the Batman world. Jerseys, tutus, masks, crazy clown vests, make-up, cowls, and a whole lot more make this a dress-up game with a Batman flavor.

Basically, you play as a fan either of Batman or of the Joker. Each character consists of different builds and skills, and these builds impact their maneuverability and health. While the costumes and customizations are completely visual, the weapons and gadgets are not. Weapons range from the typical to the weird, such as guns and rockets to bows and arrows. The game gets even weirder once gadgets become usable. For example, players can equip themselves with a cape, jump on a conveniently placed trampoline, and then glide to a new area. Or players can use roller skates to launch themselves off ramps and move around faster. Players can also load out with individual items, such as a healing megaphone. It’s very odd and fits the surreal city of Gotham perfectly.

Unfortunately, Monolith was only showing off one mode and one stage, but the two were great and established a fantastic setting for the game. A variation on an item control mode, both teams are challenged to pick up a car battery (conveniently leaking a followable trail of glowing yellow battery acid) and take it to a contraption that churns out propaganda until destroyed. Once the propaganda is produced, players of the other team cannot use weapons, only their fists. Of course, because the game pushes an insane interpretation of the world, wacky music starts playing and the world is overlaid with a purple swirl.

The game feels like a typical shooter with features borrowed from many different games. However, for a downloadable title, it looks amazing, and given that WB and DC are willing to take a chance with the license is an exciting prospect. With more modes and more levels and at a smart price, this could be the next awesome shooter to come out in 2012.

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Ben PerLee
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