If you’re reading this, you probably already know whether you love Deadpool or loathe him. Admittedly, his specific brand of outrageous non sequiturs and fourth wall-shattering humor can be a bit polarizing. If you’re in the former camp (full disclosure: I am), then yes, Deadpool is the game you’ve been waiting for; if you’re in the latter, High Moon Studios style-over-substance approach might not make you a believer.
The Merc with the Mouth makes his transition to video game-leading mutate with his trademark zaniness intact. The game opens on DP lounging around his crummy apartment, waiting for a phone call from High Moon regarding his video game proposal. The game then gives you a chance to explore his apartment, which is a pretty great device to give first-timers
an introduction to the character while sneaking in some nice in-jokes for the initiated. (Pancakes, anyone?) A delivery girl shows up at the door, toting the script to the game, and Deadpool is off to collect a contract kill. Then, Mr. Sinister shows up as the big bad, and he’s up to…something? The game isn’t really clear on what his plan is (something about exhuming and cloning dead mutants), but it doesn’t matter, because it’s all just an excuse for Deadpool to chase him to Genosha so he can bounce from setpiece to escalating setpiece.
Along the way, High Moon does well lampooning proclaimed “D-list villains” like Blockbuster, Vertigo, and Arclight, as well as wringing humor out of the straight men (and women) to Deadpool’s insanity – Wolverine, Cable, Rogue, Psylocke, Domino, and Death all lend a hand; it’s nice to see some underrepresented characters in the Marvel pantheon get a moment to shine.
Ultimately, however, they all take a backseat to our hero as he slices, shoots, and wisecracks his way across the game’s campaign.
What that entails is pretty standard hack n’ slash fare; Deadpool can use a variety of melee and ranged weapons to inflict mayhem. Combat consists of different combinations of light and heavy attacks, a limited counter system,
a teleport-dodge, and a “momentum” meter that can be used to unleash flashy, high-damage attacks when filled. Killing enemies and collecting tokens in the world gives you “Deadpool Points” (DP) that can be used to unlock new
attacks, weapons, and character upgrades. You’ll need all of them to tackle the wide variety of enemies the game throws at you. Combat flows decently enough, but the game suffers from atrocious platforming action – loose movement and a delayed-feeling jump with a weird trajectory make navigating any sort of obstacle an unnecessarily treacherous proposition. Deadpool‘s combat pales in comparison with genre companions like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta – where those games are fast and tight, Deadpool feels sluggish and sloppy. Add to that some seriously uninspired level design – skyscraper,
ruins, cave (you could see these in any game!) and bland graphics, and you might be wondering why I would even recommend you play it at all. Because it’s funny as hell, that’s why.
High Moon absolutely nails Deadpool as a character. The game is constantly subverting common video game tropes and conventions, as well as skewering many classic and modern games as well – Call of Duty reference? You betcha. A sendup of The Legend of Zelda? Sure, why not? The script, penned by comic series veteran Daniel Way, is punchy and entertaining, rarely repeating jokes and constantly finding new ways to surprise the player. The blandness of the normal gameplay is alleviated by throwing the player into all kinds of bizarre situations, including one of the most hilarious and inventive shooting gallery sequences I’ve ever experienced.
Special mention must also be made of the game’s voice-work, particularly Nolan North’s performance as the titular hero. North has become more or less ubiquitous in the industry over the past few years, but I’ve never heard him fully embody a role the way he does Wade Wilson. Pulling triple-duty as our titular character as well as the two split personalities rattling around in his skull, North’s perfect delivery elicited belly laughs with nearly every line.
Ultimately, your mileage with Deadpool is going to vary. Apart from revisiting the game’s 8 + hour campaign, there’s very little replay value to be had here. There’s a series of challenge maps that let you button mash against waves of enemies, but it’s not very fun. And considering the majority of the staff was laid off by Activision shortly after the game went gold, I wouldn’t suggest holding your breath for any DLC. What you’re left with, then, is a hilarious game that could have used a little more time in the oven. For me, as a fan of the character, that was enough to justify the time spent. And let’s be honest, Deadpool has always had a few screws loose; isn’t it kind of fitting that his game would too?
Things I Loved
- Stellar voice acting all the way around
- Great variety of gameplay types
- Academy Award® Nominee for Best Anthropomorphized Taco in a Supporting Role
Things I Hated
- Loose, sloppy platforming controls
- A final boss encounter that can only be described as “utter bullshit”
- Bland graphics and uninspired locales/level design