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A Batman FPS: How does that work?

We go hands-on with shock Monolith FPS Gotham City Imposters

'OMG WTF?' was probably your response to Warner's announcement of its new Batman game. A first-person multiplayer shooter? What?

Yeah, the long-running rumours if its existence sounded way off the mark, but they were true. Gothan City Imposters is a multiplayer-only first-person shooter set in the Batman Universe. Gotham City, to be exact. And today we got to grips with it on the E3 show flow in Los Angeles.

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We know what you're thinking; it must be a stinker. But this bad boy is being done by F.E.A.R developer Monolith. That's a plus. And we can now tell you from experience that it's not actually that bad. In fact, we had a pretty good time playing it. And that has nothing to do with the fact that we played with all girls and they sucked, and we battered them all mercilessly. And it felt good. Nope, nothing at all to do with that at all.

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First of all, Batman doesn't appear running around with a gun, capturing flags. At least not in the version we played. That would, after all, be ridiculous. Instead, players are split in two teams, playing as "amateur vigilantes or villains" in an "unhinged Gotham City overrun by impostors inspired by the DC Comics characters Batman and The Joker", in the words of Warner.

Basically, you're a bunch of maniacs with face makeup and wacky clothes that resemble that of Batman characters. We played a three-on-three multiplayer match in a scenario that's rather like a single-flag capture-the-flag game. A battery appears in a set spot on the map - the one we played a tight, close-quarters urban map set in a funfair - and both teams have to rush to grab it. Once a player has the battery they must attach to a relay outpost elsewhere on the map, relying on team mates to defend them since the carrier can only use melee attacks.

Once the battery is attached, that team has to defend it for 30 seconds while the opposing team attempts to detach it. If the defending team is successful they score a point and the battery respawns elsewhere in the map. If the opposing team detaches the battery they can run off and attach it at another outpost.

Like we said, it was actually pretty good fun. The scenario worked like a hybrid mix of Call of Duty's Domination and CTF playlists. The on-screen hud, like Halo and CoD, makes sure players are always well directed; when the battery spawns in it appears as an icon on the screens and maps of both teams. When one team has the battery it disappears from the HUD of the opposing team, giving you a chance at getting it to the outpost. Once a plant has been made, the defending and attacking teams are again given the corresponding update and direction via the HUD.

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There appeared to be plenty of load-out customisation options, but we didn't get to fiddle with those on the typically rushed and overcrowded E3 floor. So jumping straight in we had two guns - an automatic machine gun and a shotgun, which made for a great last-minute backup weapon when our machine gun magazine ran empty mid-shootout.

Call of Duty players will be totally at home with the controls and feel of the guns - you hold the left trigger to aim and yank the right one to fire, you can sprint briefly and knife fools who get too close.

The map seemed to flow well, too. There were high balconies, outdoor and indoor areas, multiple routes the circle the map and twisting corridors. There were also trampolines that spring you up high as you walk over them, serving as a cheeky shortcut to higher ledges. By the end of a single match we had a pretty decent idea of our way around.

Don't write this one off, folks. It certainly won't be a Battlefield beater, but it is a PSN/XBLA/PC digital release, so it'll be cheaper than your average new FPS, yet it puts up a good fight.

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