Developer: High Moon Studios
Release Date: 06/25/2013
So yeah. This happened. They actually made a Deadpool game. I mean, it seems like such an obvious idea, right? Deadpool is an absolutely crazy character that has stolen the show in games like X-Men Legends 2 and Marvel vs Capcom 3. While he may have started off as a spoof character, there’s no denying that he has grown into a very popular member of the Marvel stable. When this game was announced, it seemed like a hell of a good thing.
The problem is, and forgive me if this sounds familiar, is that this is a licensed game. They tend to suck. Activision has been guilty of some really bad ones recently. No one liked X-Men Destiny. So, while this game has plenty of potential, it still has to overcome that stigma.
I’ve got good news and bad news.
Let’s start with the good news. Daniel Way, a seasoned Deadpool writer, has brought the merc’s style over seamlessly. He’s everything you’d expect. The fourth wall is shattered from the get go as the primary story is Deadpool working with High Moon Studios to make a game based on himself. The tutorial has Deadpool saying “Player, do whatever High Moon says” as button prompts appear on screen. Scenes during the game feature retro graphics and gameplay as High Moon attempts to keep the game from going over budget. It’s just nuts.
Inside the game, there’s a story about Mr. Sinister working to perfect a powerful clone army and Cable coming from the future to aid Deadpool. X-Men cameos are frequent and hilarious, and they’re often exasperated by his antics. This plot within a plot is kind of boring, but it’s meant to be. The real fun is in watching Deadpool be Deadpool.
That being said, the jokes do not stop. Even if you find only a third of them funny, that will still leave you laughing for the majority of the game. Sophomoric humor abounds, and some of it can be quite offensive. You have been warned. Even though I knew what I was getting into, some of it still doesn’t sit right with me. Still, the absolute insanity of what’s going on makes up for so much. This is the second game in recent memory that features the song “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. I think this game did it more justice. Whether you’re a fan of the character or not, the never ending humor of this game makes it worth a rental at least.
Visually, the game is archaic to say the least. There are loads of bland hallways, bad textures, and cheap animations. Deadpool and the other Marvel characters look all right. It’s just everything else is less than impressive. Deadpool’s animations are pretty spectacular though, both during gameplay and cutscenes. The effects are OK, but nothing special at all. In all honestly, this feels a lot like a budget title, even though it’s still fifty bucks.
Nolan North deserves some sort of award for his work in this game. Managing to capture the zaniness of Deadpool is no small feat, and the veteran voice actor pulls it off with ease. The rest of the characters are immaterial, though you’ll find a few names on the list that ring a bell. Steve Blum returns as Wolverine and does his usual gruffness to solid effect. Still, it all feels pedestrian compared to the merc with the mouth. Considering that Deadpool’s whole thing is that he never shuts up, it’s a damn good thing he’s so enjoyable to listen to. As for the rest of the audio package, can we say generic? Instrumental rock tunes and tinny gunplay run rampant in this game. It’s nothing to get upset about, but it’s just not interesting to listen to.
Now we can get to the bad news. The gameplay, though mostly functional, is completely lacking in ingenuity. It has no fun factor.
Controlling Deadpool is simple enough. Move with the stick, turn the camera with the other stick, light attack, heavy attack, jump button, aim, shoot. It’s all right where you’d expect. The controls are responsive too, which is a plus. The big issue is that using the guns turns the game into a third person shooter, which means the obligatory behind the shoulder camera. In order to get the camera back into hack’n’slash mode, you need to either wait a while or pound one of the melee buttons. This is annoying, and the zoomed in camera makes it even harder to see enemies. This isn’t some shooting gallery where the bad guys are always straight ahead. You need some degree of peripheral vision to have success. The camera also has issues in the bigger arenas, as you’ll be picked apart by gun-toting baddies you can’t see. Still, the bulk of the gameplay works as advertised, which is a step up from most licensed games.
Seeing as Deadpool uses both swords and guns, you’d think the developers would use this opportunity to make the game a play on the Devil May Cry series. Nope. Instead, the game uses the standard hack’n’slash mechanics with a tacked on third person shooter. While your combo meter builds whether you shoot or slice, it isn’t really possible to string combos that mix the different types. That’s a damn shame. It creates an uneven feel when playing, and creates the camera issues I mentioned earlier.
Upgrading the merc is simple enough. You get Deadpool points for each kill, with bonuses being awarded for high combos. These points can then be spent to upgrade existing gear, buy new gear, or buy upgrades for the character himself. These do the typical things such as give you more ammo, give you more health, raise damage, etc. It’s a tried and true system, and one that seems to be mandatory in all action games these days. Even the game makes fun of it.
The combo system is pretty straightforward. You land hits, you build the combo. The time you have between hits is pretty generous, and you don’t have to worry about all those bullets ruining your combo either. Only melee attacks or particularly strong attacks break it up. You’ll have time to dodge and preserve your count.
When it comes to enemies, the game plays it safe. You’ll fight near endless waves of worthless grunts that only damage you due to sheer numbers. Mixed in there on occasion are tougher foes, who generally tend to be bullet sponges who just might be able to land a decently powerful hit. There are plenty of bosses and mid bosses as well, but they tend to be equally simple. They follow repeated patterns that are easy to figure out and avoid. You’re more than equipped to handle just about any situation, and getting those player upgrades makes you that much more deadly. Sure, death can happen, but that’s usually because you screwed up and forgot to dodge.
When the game is at its best, it’s because of the wacky antics that happen because of the story. Suddenly finding yourself in a top down Zelda clone because the game’s budget was blown on explosions is awesome. Being able to use thought bubbles as platforms is awesome. Using a sentinel’s shoe as a flying turret is awesome. It’s all of the times in between, when you’re slogging through hundreds of clones that the game suffers for.
This is not a long game. It can easily be bested in five to six hours. Most people I know who’ve played it manged to finish it in two or three session, myself included. You can go back to any level, continue to upgrade yourself, or even turn up the difficulty. There are also challenges that unlock as your progress, which have leaderboards for you to topple. Still, there’s little chance of you getting more than ten or so hours out of the game. That makes it hard to justify at full price.
Deadpool is pretty easy to slog through. The only times it gets tough is when you’re surrounded by enemies and can’t get away to take out that one gunman who keeps shooting you. However, I breezed through the final encounter thanks to some key upgrades. Gaining back health for every fourth hit helped a lot, especially since using machine guns didn’t count against it. I also earned momentum moves, which are super moves awarded for skilled play, at a rapid pace, allowing me to clear enemies out quickly. If you do die, the checkpoints are frequent and quite forgiving. I don’t expect gamers having too much of a problem with this.
Short Attention Span Summary
At the end of the day, Deadpool is a blast to play for fans of the character, but it still doesn’t have much value as an overall game. Action fans will not be satiated by the combat or the shooting one bit, and the short length keeps the game from offering much bang per buck. It’s funny, amusing, and worth a look. Once it reaches the bargain bin, you might just want to snatch it up. Until then, only diehard fans need apply.