High Moon Studios, the guys that brought us the perfectly playable, borderline excellent Transformers titles now turn their hand to one of the most divisive Marvel characters, Deadpool. Fourth wall breaking, wise cracking, bloodletting, bat shit crazy Deadpool in all his gory comedy genius in a videogame - sweet baby Jesus it’s a match made in heaven...right...surely?
Deadpool as a character is an odd one in the Marvel universe, part of the same experiments that saw Wolverine become what he is today, our anti-hero is born out of the Weapon X project; regenerating health, teleporting abilities and a definite skill for kicking serious ass, you’d think that he’d have his own movie franchise by now (for the love of all things holy forget X-Men Origins: Wolverine, put it out of your head, it never happened). Unfortunately the character underwent a change during the 90s and became more than just a wise cracking assassin, he became almost a parody of himself. Multiple personalities, enough tit jokes to make Duke Nukem blush and he has become somewhat ridiculous, out of place with the tone of the X-Men as the masses know them. Love him or loath him though, this is most definitely his game.
What better way than to treat such a character than have him star in a videogame by High Moon Studios which is about him starring in a videogame by High Moon Studios. Stick with it, it’s mental but to some extent it kind of works. Basically Deadpool gets High Moon Studios to commission a game which is about his mission to take down Sinister and along the way there are a few cameos from the like of Wolverine and Rogue. Deadpool being completely mental then proceeds to re-write the script, somehow not really reading it while he is doing it and then you are off, thrust into about seven hours of third-person hack and slash adventuring with some sweet guns and light, simple platforming.
Nolan North voices Deadpool (all personas) and delivers every line with such verve and enthusiasm you cannot help but smile, you may even muster a chuckle at various points during your playthrough. Whilst the quips and non stop gags initially make the game interesting it all gets very old very quickly, to the point where you’d actually like Deadpool to shut up for five minutes.
Dick jokes, fart jokes, shooting people in the face jokes, endless sexual innuendo and a completely nonsensical plot keep you moving along at a fairly brisk pace - moving from one kill arena to the next, maybe with the odd switch for you to pull to unlock the next. As hack and slash games go then Deadpool plays it really safe from the off, humour and scripting aside, the gameplay itself is very run of the mill. As you work your way through the fairly bland levels you will encounter endless clones which are effectively just in your way, such is the badassness of Deadpool. Starting the game with a single pistol and a sword you quickly amass DP points (see what they did), which can be spent on upgrading both your weaponry and some vital player stats. As you progress you also unlock new weapons - on the face of it there isn’t a great deal of depth to this system but when looked at closely it does actually heavily influence how you play through the game. Picking up a new weapon later in the game isn't advised as you have to perform certain numbers of kills with said weapon to start to open up the unlocks. Therefore a choice actually has to be made early on - find your favourite and upgrade it, ignore everything else.
Actual minute to minute play is a little loose, the animations are surprisingly high quality but the feel is slightly off. The character’s actions on the screen don’t quite seem to exactly match your inputs which can annoy and make everything a little less impactful - often you don’t quite feel like you’re kicking the ass, sure the screen is awash with bad guys’ blood and Deadpool is spouting off about how awesome he is but it’s just slightly lacking that crunch. Allowing the player to mix light and heavy attacks with guns and special ‘momentum’ moves (special moves) along with the ability to teleport quickly and parry/riposte attacks in theory seems like a great mix, sadly it’s all a bit loose. Mixing in run and gun with brawling is hit and miss, auto targeting is poor at best and whichever genius thought it was a good idea to have the same button for parry and teleport needs a dry slap. Surrounded by enemies the Arkham style ‘they are going to attack’ button prompt appears above your enemies head but you don’t want to dive back into a cluster of buffed enemies, you want to evade and regenerate your health. Sadly if you are within distance of the enemy, straight back into the mix you go...most of the time. Other times you dash away when you actually want to go straight back into the mix - it’s the unpredictable nature of these mechanics, due to them being the same damn button which can easily frustrate.
Gameplay is for the most part standard fare, enter an area, clean out the baddies, maybe collect something and move on. Initially even with the ropey combat this feels like it could be a quick and easy bit of fun but no sooner have you mastered the minute to minute combat, the game becomes a complete chore. Dull, lifeless environments full of equally dull enemy types with little or no AI to speak of just run at you endlessly - wipe them out, endure some more chat from Deadpooll and his multiple personalities then move on to the next area. To their credit the developers do go a little bit ‘Shadows of the Damned’ (Our Review) about two thirds in, taking what is already a very messed up game and throwing in random 2D sections, on-rails gun fights and the Duke Nukem favourite, shrinking! These moments along with some of the earlier more random events are actually much more fun than the standard gameplay. Roaming around Deadpool’s apartment or a party full of bikini babes and interacting with everything brings out arguably the funniest moments in the entire game. It’s a shame therefore that throughout a seven hour playthrough these account for around thirty minutes of your time.
On that note the game really does wear out its welcome in the last hour, the final boss battle being a complete and utter chore. Fight your way through every enemy type for forty minutes, then fight a bunch of B-list characters from the weapon X project and then the big one - Sinister. Cheap deaths riddle this period as ranged, close quarters and heavily buffed enemies crowd you out but work your way through it and you are greeted with a dozen Sinisters all with escalating buffs, aka exactly the same thing you just did for forty minutes. Frustrating, completely lacking creativity and riddled with cheap deaths, by the time you get to this point you want Deadpool to shut the hell up and just get it over with. A shame really as some laughs were had along the way.
Deadpool would feel like a missed opportunity if you are a fan of the character, if you are not then this is highly unlikely to convert you. ‘Safe’, repetitive, sometimes funny, often not, Deadpool is a reasonable few hours distraction but fails to keep your interest and has little to no replay value. Rent or pick it up when the price inevitably drops. Nowhere near as awesome as Deadpool would have you believe.