Video above: @arCtyC giving his impressions while we play the game at E3.
This years E3 was my first time experiencing a large trade show packed full of unreleased games. It was a bit overwhelming having so much to choose from and only so much time. There were long lines at times and for several games I waited more than an hour to play for ten minutes. I didn’t even consider standing in the behemoth 6-7 hour line for Battlefield 3. In the end, my personal “Game of Show*” was tucked away behind a giant “Batman: Arkham City” booth right next to some child-friendly Kinect titles from Warner Brothers.
The line for Gotham City Impostors was rarely longer than 10 minutes and I stopped by to play the game 4 times during the last couple days of E3. It really took me by surprise with extremely smooth gameplay and it was quickly apparent that thought had been put into the gadgets and weapon balance. Monolith isn’t going to reinvent the genre – the game plays similarly to CoD – but the introduction of interesting gameplay elements and a charming environment makes the game a lot of fun.
When it’s released, Gotham City Impostors will see you making your own variant of wannabe Crime Fighter (Bats) or Villain (Jokers) and customizing their appearance and skillset. The build I played at E3 had several pre-made classes, but some of the customization menus were visible and it looks like it will be very in-depth. Once you’ve customized your character, it is time to select your weapons and gadgets.
It was difficult to tell with the preset classes, but it appears you’ll have the following options:
- Weapons (You pick two)
The equipment slot seems to focus on combat abilities while gadgets help you get around the map quicker. It’s possible that these aren’t two different categories, but in every class I played this is how it was set up.
The weapons were a mix of traditional FPS fare with “homebrew” weaponry. The Nail Gun was extremely powerful, but was handicapped by a slow reload as the character dumps a bunch of nails into the top of the gun. The Nail Gun class also also had a Rocket Launcher which packed a punch and had a quick reload. Those were the staples of my preferred class, using Nail Gun when defending and the 2-hit-kill Rockets when pushing around the map. There is a very heavy emphasis on headshots, something I picked up on straight away due to damage amounts popping up with every hit. It seemed like most of the preset classes had around 100 health. The Nail Gun dealt 16 damage for body shots vs. 33 for headshots. Meaning with some precision you could drop enemies with 4 bullets, or you could spam and kill in twice that. This created a nice skill gap by encouraging players to aim for the head – I finished 20-3 in my first game.
The other guns I remember using were:
- Generic Machine Gun! – Not it’s actual name, but it didn’t stick out enough to get a real name from me. Less damage than Nail Gun, faster firing rate, quicker reload.
- A Sniper Rifle – This was pretty difficult to use, seemed like one headshot or two body shots.
- Loudspeaker – You could point at team-mates to heal them. I was a bit confused by this weapon, since your team dies within a couple seconds in most fights. It’s possible I was missing something there, like an “overheal” feature, but that gun struck me as out of place.
- Shotgun – Felt pretty weak to me, somewhere between 2 to 3 hit kill most times.
This was something I didn’t use nearly enough during my sessions to get a feel for. I only remember a couple which I got a chance to use.
- Boomerang - Does what you’d expect it to do – you throw it, it comes back. Anyone it hits during this path gets stunned for a moment and takes some damage. You can aim at targets to try to direct the path and hit multiple enemies, but I didn’t get a hang of this during my time playing. Instead, I used it whenever I was running away as a bit of a hail mary.
- Jack-in-the-Box - These serve as landmines of sort, deploying whenever an enemy walks over them.
- Invisibility Drink -The most easily evident piece of equipment was a drink which turns you mostly invisible until you fire at an enemy. This led to a bit of frustration during the last game I played, but I don’t think I’ve played enough to judge the balance on this. It did lead to one of the most hilarious moments I had playing the game though. An enemy was running away with the objective and I fired a rocket after him down a tunnel. Turns out his teammate was sitting there invisible and ate the rocket to the face. He happened to be standing right next to me and we both laughed as we worked out what had happened.
This is easily my favorite bit about Gotham City Impostors. The game has your standard sprint which feels almost identical to Call of Duty, but on top of that they allow for various gadgets to creatively move around the map. Coupled with these gadgets were trampolines which served as lifts around the map, which was pretty vertical in nature.
- The Glider – A set of wings attached to the character, allowing them to softly descend after hitting trampolines or ascend from air lifts on the map. Additionally, you can do a charge forward while gliding to kick an enemy in the face, sending them backward a bit and dealing a good bit of damage. I landed that maneuver a couple times and it felt great. It seemed like a lot of thought had gone into the map design allowing the glider to be used to get to ledges otherwise not possible.
- Rollerskates – Sprinting with these allows for some great movement speed and you’ll keep rolling quickly even after ending the sprint. It can be difficult to stand still at times, but the movement increase is great. On top of that, the map had a couple ramps on each side which send you flying across the map only if you have the skates.
- Grappling Gun – You fire it at walls anywhere on the map and it zips you over there. There wasn’t any kind of cooldown on this so I was zipping around like Spiderman, dropping in on unsuspecting enemies. One of the first things I did was see how long I could stay in the air just chaining grappling gun shots. I’m pleased to report that I stayed up for at least 10 seconds through 4-5 shots of the grappling gun before falling. This thing is fun and I bet you can do some fun stuff with it when combined with certain weapons.
- Spring Boots - I remember having them at some point, but I couldn’t figure out how to use them. I imagine they let you jump high. Also could have been a map pick up, I can’t remember.
The gametype present at E3 was called “Psychological Warfare” and we played 3v3 on a map which I’d say could fit 4v4 in max. It was essentially “Sabotage” from Call of Duty or “Neutral Bomb” from Halo. Teams need to take the battery from the center of the map and plant it in the enemy base then defend it for 30 seconds. Should it go off, you get a point and the enemy team is assaulted with “propaganda” and can only slap enemies (one hit kill) for the next 30 seconds. The battery respawns after a minute, giving the team that lost the point enough time to set up for the next objective. I’m not crazy about the 30 second “Power Play” of sorts, but it was something that made it a bit different at least.
The map itself was pretty basic but I was impressed with how well it facilitated use of the Glider, Rollerskates, and Grappling Gun. There were lots of ways to get from Point A to Point B and that is something which I’ve harped on a ton for more game developers to implement into their games. I really hope all of the maps take advantage of the gadgets as well as this one did. I’m told the game will support up to 6v6, which I think will mean that most maps work great for 3v3 and 4v4 with all of the gadgets. The better the players, the smaller the map will become with all of the great movement options available.
With my competitive background I tend to look at any kind of shooter from a competitive mindset, and while I’m not going to declare it “THE NEXT GREAT COMPETITIVE SHOOTER!”, Gotham City Impostors should give the competitive community a fun game to run matches on. I think with all of the customization there will also be plenty for the average XBL gamer to grasp onto and have fun with. I’m expecting the game to be a success and there is potential for it to see “Monday Night Combat” level popularity on XBL.
I believe they are aiming for a 2012 release, which will give them plenty of time to build what was already one of the most polished shooters I played at E3. Certainly enough to win my personal “Game of Show*”. Be on the lookout for this one.
* = I didn’t get to play Battlefield 3, Skyrim, or Bioshock Infinite. So we’re gonna slap an asterisk on that.
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