Deadpool is everyone’s favourite “Merc with a mouth” and all-around anti-hero. If you’re not already aware of his existence in Marvel’s X-Men universe, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and a lot to look forward to. In any event, Deadpool now gets his very own video game courtesy of High Moon Studios. But is Deadpool all talk and no action? Or vice versa? Or verse vica? Let’s find out.
If you’ve any passing familiarity with Deadpool, you’d already know that he’s “medium aware”, which really just means he’s fully aware of the fact that he’s a comic book character. Or in this case, a video game. You see, Deadpool doesn’t just lean on or break the fourth wall. He smashes it to smithereens with a sledgehammer. Made of something really really hard. Probably wielded by someone really really strong. For example, one of the funnier moments early in the game has Deadpool ringing up Nolan North to ask about voicing his in-game character, and hangs up on him (Ed: Pro-tip: Nolan North actually does provide the voicework for Deadpool in this game, as well as in several other games, cartoons, and films). There’s even a rather funny call to High Moon Studios where they talk about how morale-sucking it was to work on the game. While it might have been a funny jab at the time it’s rather sad to know that the team behind Deadpool (some 40 odd members) were recently let go. Typically, a jab is taken at the extreme amounts of money that it costs to make games these days, and for a short section of the game, when the game’s budget had been blown (!), Deadpool is forced to play through a horribly-textured top down dungeon crawler. And there is an ever-present sewer level which Deadpool castigates the developers for putting into the games. While Deadpool might be a game, it in itself parodies the most common tropes found in aforementioned games. It’s a bit like XZibit saying, “Yo, dawg, I heard you like games so we put a game in your game so you can game while you game.” Gives a whole new meaning to “metagame”.
So it stands to reason then, that the game’s story doesn’t take itself too seriously. It honestly can’t afford to be, because Deadpool keeps butting in. At one point, where a major plot point is about to be explained, Deadpool shoots himself in the head to avoid the boredom. Arcade racers have a better story than Deadpool but the Merc with the mouth wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s all about Deadpool’s simple wants: slicing, dicing, chimichangas, and big-breasted women. The humor in Deadpool is punny and witty at times. More often than not, it’s crass, juvenile and in the toilet, just like Deadpool’s “stink pickles”. There are a lot of dick jokes and f-bombs, and Deadpool is forever obsessed with stuff like fun, bags, and funbags. What’s comical at first, however, begins to wear out its welcome. By the last third of the game the humor feels forced and there just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. You become so used to Deadpool’s antics that by this time it’s neither surprising nor humorous.
Some games introduce you to their mechanics in a subtle manner. Some leave you to hunt down the information in a handy user guide. Deadpool just tells you to do the stuff that High Moon tells you to. In Deadpool’s mind, buttons just “do stuff” and if you’re not doing stuff to his liking, he doesn’t hesitate to slag you off. It’s condescending of course, but that’s to be expected. The combat moves really come down to one of three buttons that you’ll find yourself using over and over again: sword attack, gun attack, and teleport. And just like that, the game loses any depth to its fighting mechanic, since it’s a case of mash the first unless overwhelmed, teleport away, mash the second until healed or out of ammo, wash, rinse, repeat, buy a new bottle of shampoo.
You can buy upgrades to make Deadpool more Badass, (which to one of the voices in his head is impossible, but just go with it). Deadpool remarks it’s how progression is handled in games. Buying upgrades proves to be addictive and you’ll find yourself trying harder to get more DP (Deadpool Points, not the other thing that Deadpool knows you’re thinking about now). Not taking damage, countering, and keeping your combo counter high are critical to scoring ludicrous quantities of DP to better afford some of the fancier weapons and moves in Deadpool’s arsenal.
Combat is fine, but can’t match the yardstick that is Batman: Arkham City. Missing blocks and counters in Deadpool isn’t too troublesome, because you can always use the teleport mechanic to put some distance between you and your foes, preferably behind a handy pillar, while your health regenerates. It feels a little like cheating but keeps the game from showing you the game over screen and denies Deadpool the satisfaction of telling you how terrible you are at this. Health regeneration time can be a little slow, but you won’t need to wait hours while your health bar slowly refills. Those games who are guilty of this know who they are. Yes, I’m looking at you.
Deadpool’s not a terrible game, just a terribly average one. The humor doesn’t change enough to keep you interested, and the story, while typically insane for a Deadpool narrative, isn’t compelling enough to keep you chafing at the bit to find out what happens. Combat is not bad, but it could have been far better and more engaging. This game is really strictly for the fans of Deadpool and his wacky species of funny. If you’re not already arms deep in the X-Men universe to have gotten attached to this snarker, I doubt this game will do it for you. However, the fans will get a kick out of it, and will absolutely enjoy the meta humor and in-jokes.
Final Score: 6 phallic prawns out of 10
Developer: High Moon Studios
Age Rating: If you’re under 18, you REALLY should not be playing this game
Platforms: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox360, PC