GAME NAME: Deadpool
DEVELOPER(S): High Moon Studios
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): 26 June 2013
What can I say about Deadpool?
I can say that while it doesn't do much wrong, it really doesn't do much right. Deadpool himself is just about the only bright light in the whole package. Without the main character's comedic wit, Deadpool is unfortunately all but indistinguishable from any other pedestrian action game. The main character is the saving grace -- the diamond in the rough if you will -- and for some even that won't be enough to keep playing.
I may be sounding a little too harsh. Honestly, Deadpool is not a terrible game. You could do worse (much worse), but in a post Batman: Arkham world, is it too much to expect a little more from licensed games? Coming from High Moon Studios (the team behind the great Transformers: War for Cybertron and its sequel) was a sign that perhaps this would be a good -- if not great -- game. Unfortunately, it seems like in the midst of all the fart, poo and boob jokes the making of the game got forgotten about.
After a while, the constant stream of puerile innuendo and references do become a bit much, but when it comes to Deadpool you know what you're in for going in. Nolan North -- in an almost unrecognisable performance -- sells Deadpool whole-heartedly. Handling all three of Deadpool's voices and imbuing them with three separate personalities is no mean feat and North nails it. He may cop some flack for being somewhat overused, but he is incredibly talented and his work on Deadpool deserves high praise.
The story is absolutely bonkers -- something else to be expected -- and is best left to be discovered on your own. Be prepared though, any fans expecting to get extended cameos from your favourite X-Men (you know, the ones they announced would be in the game?) will be sorely disappointed. Aside from Cable, most of the other characters are relegated to one or two short cutscenes. More as a wink and nod to the player than a real and meaningful addition to the story. Disappointing, but once again not unexpected. It's Deadpool's game after all.
While the characterisation of Deadpool is perfect and the story is suitably meta and self aware it's a real shame playing the game is so dull. Deadpool uses combinations of light and heavy attacks as well as firearms to take out the enemy. His default weapons -- sword and dual pistols -- can be upgraded to faster or more powerful ones. Two other melee weapons and a range of guns are available, but they do little to change combat, neither do the grenades and other throwable weapons.
When presented with a horde -- and I do mean a horde -- of enemies the best course of action is to frantically mash the light and heavy attack buttons while occasionally dodging and counter-attacking. Like Batman: Arkham Asylum and City, Deadpool includes a counter-attack. By simply pressing the circle or B button when the symbol is displayed above an enemy. Deadpool will dispatch them swiftly and keep his combo alive.
An interesting mechanic is tied to the combo system. Deadpool earns "DP" -- haw haw -- by taking out bad guys. The longer he keeps the combo going the higher the bonus DP awarded when the combo ends however, if the combo is ended by an enemy's attack the bonus DP -- tee hee -- is lost. This is great in theory. Deadpool moves so fast though that often the camera just can't keep up and you'll be fighting to find him rather than focusing on the enemies surrounding you. More often than not I lost my bonus DP because the camera had wandered off to inspect the corner of the room when it couldn't find Deadpool.
The gunplay is similarly uninspired. It's odd as Deadpool appears to run on the same (or a similar) engine to the Transformers games and the shooting in both of those was rock solid. Deadpool's on the other hand is all over the place. It feels far too floaty and relies on an awkward auto-aiming system to help it work. To lock onto an enemy, the reticule has to be placed over them for a few seconds, but any movement of the right stick causes the lock to be broken. It feels like the game has too much control and the player has none. Only a few enemies really require shooting to be defeated in any case, so it's probably best to just stick to the button mashing melee combat.
The level design absolutely takes the cake when it comes to lack of inspiration. For a game that seems to be trying to make fun of cliches in video games, Deadpool becomes a parody of itself. There's a sewer level, an office, a jungle, on rails shooting, a post-apocalyptic world and so on. And while these design decisions are ripe for spoofing, they're sadly left alone. The levels are straight forward and generic as they come which seems at odds with the rest of Deadpool's design. After trudging through one brown environment after another, it's a relief to occasionally be given a a mini game to play. These constitute breaks in the fourth wall and feature a top-down view dungeon crawler and a side scroller. These mini-games do a good job of breaking the monotony, but are far too infrequent. It's like the developers knew the game was becoming too repetitive at certain points and just stuck these in to get the player to carry on.
Deadpool is by no means a great game, but on the flipside it's by no means an awful game. If you're a fan of the "Merc with a Mouth", action games or crude humour there's bound to be something here for you. In fact most gamers would be able to find a reasonable amount of fun with Deadpool. It's not going to change your life, but for the right price it will definitely keep you entertained for a few hours.