The defenestration of Gotham City Imposters

, | Games

I like to shoot things. Battlefied, Call of Duty, Killing Floor, you name it. If it has guns and things to shoot, chances are I’ll entertain myself with it. If it also has regular people dressing up as homeless versions of Batman and the Joker, trying to kill eachother for no reason with guns, gadgets and rollerskates, I’m going to be in love before I even play it.

After the jump, when is three hours actually forty minutes?

Gotham City Impostors got it right. Looking at some of the less inspired videos and promo material, the jaded gamer (or 90th percentile) would be tempted to write it off as a half-assed Team Fortress 2, or a cheap Call of Duty tag-along. Maybe it is both of those things, but that’s exactly why it’s good. Mixing high-octane gunslinging with crazy gadgets, a positively demented artstyle, and putting it on fricken rollerskates, is exactly what I need after swallowing the last ten zombie-or-military cordite orgies. It’s fun, it’s fresh, and Monolith has done a great job of making some pretty tricky mechanics come together. Even if it does look a little dated on the outside, it still feels great on the inside.

Sadly, getting it right doesn’t save Gotham City Impostors from its own terrible systems. No PC gamer wants to see Games for Windows Live in a multiplayer game, because we know we shouldn’t have to. And any developer should be smart enough to know that we know. What we want even less is to have yet another login piled on top “just for leaderboards”. In this case, the Warner Brothers ID. Trying to register for one in the game didn’t provide me with a confirmation e-mail, so I ended up having to leave the game to register the damn thing through the website.

Okay, so Gotham City Impostors wants me to do paperwork. No big deal! You can only do paperwork once, so that’s not gonna stop us from coming together in a blaze of perfect, deafening gunfire. Sadly, other things will. Describing the Gotham City Impostors experience, is describing what it’s like to be stuck in a matchmaker for anywhere between 15-30 minutes, while listening to poor fools who are yet to find out, that the game — offering no warning — is broadcasting their every word. I’m mortified that a game makes me wait more than 15 minutes to play a 10 minute round, but listening to people who are exposing their social lives and takeout orders to strangers online is one of the most awkward experiences I’ve had as a gamer. Thankfully, no chronic masturbators, although that’s certainly no thanks to Monolith. You know it’s going to happen. We’re essentially indulging in the matchmaking equivalent of Chat Roulette.

I’ve spent three hours in the game, but no more than 40 minutes have been spent actually playing it. Some of the remaining time was spent looking through the class and costume configuration — pretty much your standard Call of Duty “Build a Class” system — but the vast majority of my time was spent held up by a matchmaker so broken that even the Bethesda QA team would put the kibosh on it.

Of the 40 minutes I managed to actually play the game, I had some of the most fun I’ve had in any multiplayer shooter, and that’s exactly why I care enough to write about it. When a bad game tanks, it doesn’t matter. When a good game gets set up to fail, I need to blame someone for it before I can sleep at night.

There are other problems with Gotham City Impostors. It launched with a selection of micro-DLC, which doesn’t really penalize anyone, but still makes it clear that you’re playing to unlock stuff that others will just pay for. It’s a 15 dollar game, so I’ll shut up. The matchmaker also doesn’t support drop-in for rounds in progress, which of course only makes it harder to find a game, while making it possible that lobbies could empty out during the course of a match. I wouldn’t mind that so much if I could actually get a game going.

A patch — well, not a patch — “free DLC” has been promised by Monolith, due in March. The kind of free DLC that’s meant to fix the damn game. It’s unlikely to reduce the paperwork, and sadly it’s probably also too late to bring Gotham City Impostors back from the dead. If Warner Brothers Interactive wasn’t willing to support the game before release, I don’t think they’re fronting a bill to revive it after a failed launch.

Within 14 days of release, the game has disappeared from Steams Top 100, and while that doesn’t mean the game is “dead”, it means fewer people playing it than Stronghold 3 or Sniper: Ghost Warrior. Rest in peace.

Peter Michelsen is a sofa-critic from Denmark, making his primetime debut on Quarter to Three. Or is he? He could be…an impostor!