Finally, Itís Deadpoolís Turn
Itís really kind of amazing that itís taken this long for a Deadpool game to come out. Sure, heís played a supporting role in a few titles over the years, but up until now heís yet to stand alone in the spotlight. He may not be as widely known as other Marvel powerhouses like Spider-Man or The Hulk, but his over-the-top violence, quick wit, vulgar mouth, and tendency to break the fourth wall have made him a favorite of many. When I heard that the Merc with the Mouth would finally be given his time to shine by the folks over at High Moon Studios, I was apprehensively excited. While his sword and gunplay seem a natural fit for a meaty third-person action title, I worried that it might be tough to pull off his unique brand of sophomoric humor and self-references without becoming stale or annoying. Luckily the game largely pulls everything together into an entertaining experience, but its strengths and weaknesses fall exactly opposite where I thought they would.
For those unfamiliar with the character, Wade Winston Wilson, aka Deadpool, is a mercenary that was given a hyper-accelerated healing ability by the same Weapon X program that coated Wolverine in adamantium. This ability to heal at an insane rate, paired with his uncanny combat ability and personal teleportation device, seems like it would be a pretty sweet deal for Wade; unfortunately, it also supercharged the rate at which his pre-procedure cancer spread, driving him a little insane and disfiguring his body. While cancer-driven insanity and horrid disfigurement seem to be perfect catalysts for a heart-wrenching tale of self-loathing, Wade turned into a hilarious loudmouth who loves violence, chimichangas, and commenting on the absurdities of being in a comic book.
Fourth Wall Buster
Itís this psychopathic charm that gets nailed to a tee in Deadpool. Within the first few minutes of the game itís clear that High Moon Studios wasnít afraid to go all-in over the top, and it works beautifully. The story starts off with Deadpool threatening High Moon into making a game about him. Before I even left Wadeís apartment I called Nolan North on the phone (where he tried to convince me that maybe Deadpool should be into guys in this game just to mix things up), excreted solid waste (which he lovingly refers to as a ďstink pickleĒ), and made fun of the gameís artists for making such terrible looking bookshelves. If this isnít evidence enough, let there be no doubt that Deadpool isnít for those looking for deep, multilayered humor or life-changing lessons, and I wouldnít have it any other way. If one thing is to be said about this game, itís that the tone is a fantastically faithful translation of what can be found in Deadpoolís snarkiest print adventures. This continues to be evident throughout the game as Wade is transported to a retro Zelda-esque segment after ďblowing all of the budget on the first level,Ē turned to the camera and shushed me when I was trying to be sneaky, and started complaining when I didnít listen to the on-screen prompts right away. In-combat lines do become a bit repetitive as the game goes on, but overall I have no complaints about what I thought would be the most challenging aspect of this project to tackle.
A Bit Bland
Unfortunately I was far less enamored with the actual gameplay on display. Itís not particularly bad in any way, nothing is broken and it is reasonably fun, but nothing shines as being any better than the myriad of other third-person action games on the market. Combat is broken down into close-quarters swordplay and ranged ballistic attacks spread between a few different buttons to allow for some basic combos. Throw in some upgradable/unlockable weapons, an Arkham City-esque counter system, and a teleport-dodge and the fighting gets the job done. Deadpool can also build up a momentum meter to pull off powerful specials. Again, thereís nothing -bad- here, it just gets a bit stale after awhile. In a game so wild and off-the-wall as this, I would have liked to see some equally inventive ways to introduce my enemies to their deity of choice.
The same can be said for the level design. Itís a shame. There are a number of gems placed in the rough though. The aforementioned Zelda rip-off was great, just to name one, but they are spread too far throughout bland and clichťd locales. Far too frequently I was waiting for Deadpool to stop, look up at me, complain about how everyone has sewers in their games, and take me off somewhere ridiculous.
Outside of the campaign there is also a Challenge Mode which lets players battle waves of baddies in spots from the main story, but it didnít really hold my interest. Itís a nice way to be able to hop in and get a quick fix, but it lacks the charm and wit of the main game. Unfortunately, Challenge Mode is the only thing begging for players to put in more time after finishing the campaign. In a game like this I would have loved to see some collectables. It would have been fun to try and collect pages from Deadpoolís comic shenanigans, concept art, or even something more outlandish like fake out-takes or behind-the-scenes clips from what I assume was a pretty wild development experience.
Hope Heíll be Back
Deadpool is a game that suffers in ways that should probably bother me a lot more than they do, but thereís no doubting that I had a good time while playing it. I was entertained. I laughed out loud on more than a few occasions. Iíve waited a long time to take control of a character that I love, and Iím ecstatic that High Moon nailed the essence of what makes him a great character to watch and read. Unfortunately the overly-average gameplay holds me back from giving it a whole-hearted recommend. I really do hope that this isnít the last we see of this incarnation of my favorite merc, because I think that if a few things are improved, a future outing could really be something special. The heart is there, there just isnít quite enough meat surrounding it.
Nails the essence of the character with great deconstruction of the fourth wall, witty lines, and over-the-top violence.
Gameplay doesnít bring much new, locales can get stale, and there isnít much replay value.