High Moon Studios, most notable for their Transformers titles, have taken it upon themselves to finally give Deadpool, Marvel’s infamous antihero, a starring role in his very own video game. It’s a game that certainly captures the redeeming (and some not so redeeming) qualities of the crazed mercenary, but suffers from design decisions that, while heavy on “brakkabrakka!”, are dated and lack style.
Somebody Get This Guy a Straitjacket!
Deadpool is a character Marvel fans either love to hate, or hate to love. His wisecracking, absurd behavior is either viewed as personality traits that make him stand out in the Marvel universe (he is certifiably insane thanks in part to the Weapon X program), or that it makes him an obnoxious creep that serves no legitimate purpose.
He clearly isn’t for everybody, but that’s really the joke behind Deadpool. He’s often depicted as the guy that can only be handled in small doses, and that he’s a nuisance to work with. High Moon took this concept and ran with it by creating a premise in which the Merc with a Mouth forces them to create his game.
The game itself, which begins after an amusing interactive tour of Deadpool’s filthy apartment, is about him trying to payback Mister Sinister for ruining an assassination mission he had almost completed. It’s a revenge story that’s filled with ridiculous metal music, fourth-wall breaking dialogue, cameo appearances, tons of innuendo and chimichangas.
The narrative isn’t “gripping” or anything, but it’s good for some laughs and showcases Deadpool at his most mental. Once again, Nolan North’s talents are used effectively, bringing Deadpool and the voices in his head to life. That being said, there are moments where the hijinks can be too much take, and some of the jokes just fall flat because of how random they are.
While the writing does its job pretty well, the same can’t be said for the gameplay. There’s plenty of hacking and slashing, explosions and trigger-happy action, but it’s presented in a way that doesn’t make Deadpool look as he cool as should – it’s basically a button-masher with wonky gun mechanics and a jerky camera.
This is What Mediocre Looks Like
The combat is a mix of fast-paced sword slashing and rapid-fire gun play a la Devil May Cry. However, there’s no fluidity here, despite the fact Deadpool is able to unleash various combos and special “momentum” attacks. Part of this is due to the clunky controls, but mostly because of the stiff way Deadpool moves around and the camera’s bad habit of forgetting to move occasionally when the action changes direction.
The melee fighting can be fun in many situations, but it’s at its worst when Deadpool is surrounded by enemies and in a tight area. However, when faced with gun toting bad guys, things get a little hairy. When attempting to lock-on to a target, there are times when it won’t kick in and multiple button presses are required to get it to work. Just using free-aim solves this problem, but even then its slippery movements can still make it a pain to unleash bullets accurately.
Perhaps another reason the combat isn’t that satisfying is the mediocre visuals. The textures, for the most part, are decent, and Deadpool is fully-realized, as are some of the supporting characters like Cable and Wolverine. However, the enemies lack detail, and the set pieces are bland at best.
It’s Not All Bad
In spite of the gameplay bordering on average and sub-par, there are a few moments when the developers decided to shake things up by adding stages that turn the game into a side-scrolling platformer, a top-down RPG complete with pixelated graphics or a carnival boat ride with Deadpool shooting pop-up clowns with a cannon.
These moments contribute to the meta-story and Deadpool’s chaotic character nicely and keep the game from being tiresome. The upgrading and customization components help as well; damage and health boosts, new weapons and combos give some much needed depth and make dealing with the lengthy fight scenes easier to take.
I suppose it’s fitting that Deadpool’s game is just as “take it or leave it” as he is. This isn’t an awful experience by any means; fans will probably get some thrills, but those on the fence will walk away nonplussed. Indeed, this is a game that desperately wants to be slick and stylish, but instead comes off as a little better than by-the-numbers.