Deadpool didn’t exactly inspire confidence leading up to it’s release with Activision delaying the game, reducing it’s price by 10 dollars off the standard rate, and even firing a number of employees from High Moon a few months prior to launch. Doesn’t exactly scream quality if you ask me. Still, with the summer drought in full swing and an itch to play something a bit more simple after the mentally taxing Last of Us and Metro Last Light, Deadpool looked really appealing. Ready and willing to hack and slash, I dove in. Is Deadpool a badass mercenary or is it just a stale, week old chimichanga?
Full review after the jump…
If you’re coming into Deadpool looking for a meaningful story or something really engaging, well, you’ll want to look elsewhere. While there is a story to be found here, it’s really only there to move the player along. After slumming around his run down apartment, Deadpool works a deal with High Moon Studios (see: kidnaps) to make the most awesome game ever. Pretty meta, right? The game starts with Deadpool accepting a contract to take down a crime lord but things don’t go quite as planned. From that point, things take a few twists and turns all while Deadpool referencing the script, making editorial changes on the fly, and calling High Moon when things aren’t quite up to his level.
This fourth wall breaking is constant and really nails the character of Deadpool as he constantly communicates with the player on things like skill, progress, how the game isn’t to his liking or even some decisions made during gameplay. The writing is great especially the character dialogue and more than a few times it had me outright laughing. Humor in games can be very difficult to pull off well but for me, this game nails it. One of the major highlights is Nolan North who reprises his role as the Merc with a Mouth. Switching between Deadpool and both voices in his head, North delivers line after line brilliantly and with pitch perfect timing. North does an expert job bringing the character to life and staying true to the comics.
With that said, if you are offended easily or have aversions to dialogue which includes topics regarding sex, swearing, over the top violence, or objectification of women, then this game really isn’t for you. Though considering you’re reading a review about the Marvel character, Deadpool, you probably know what you’re getting into here. It can be juvenile at times sure, but that’s who he is and it fits within the context of this game.
There’s also some wonderful gags and references to other games/media like Ninja Turtles, Super Mario, and even an old NES style level that is all too brief. It’s this kinetic energy, humor and action that really helps keep the player engaged and wanting to see what’s next. The levels themselves are pretty diverse from one another in terms of locations but they’re very linear and most are fairly standard like an old office building, sewer, caves, etc. It’s not the best looking game out there, but it gets the job done.
While the X-Men are featured on the cover, don’t expect some epic team up or anything as many of them make simple cameos. Psylocke for example can be clearly seen on the cover but her on-screen time is extremely brief. Same for Wolverine who has a few lines but nothing significant. Cable gets the bulk of “sidekick” time appearing in multiple chapters and even helping during combat situations for a bit. The enemy characters are very much on the D-list, more on the unknown side including Blockbuster, Vertigo, and Mr. Sinister to name a few. I believe that was done on purpose as Deadpool even mentions this fact a few times throughout the game. One other thing to note here is that you’ll want to listen to each character bio when prompted by the game. While not only being very informative, the songs each character has playing in the background is absolutely hilarious including Cable.
Combat is exactly what you’d expect in a hack and slash title like this. You’ll be constantly cycling through simple quick/heavy attacks and also being able to use ranged weapons as well. You’ll start off with his trusty katanas and dual pistols, but through upgrades and purchases, you’ll gain access to other weapons like hammers and sais and new guns including an assault rifle and shotgun. These Deadpool Points are dropped and gained through defeating enemies so you’ll be gaining them quite a bit to help gain upgrades and new items. Surprisingly, you won’t be able to grab everything through one playthrough so there’s a ton of things to spend these points on. The weapons do mix up combat a bit, but overall, you’ll still be smacking around enemies. Combos are there as well, but are of the typical quick, quick, quick, or quick heavy, quick variety.
String enough attacks together and Deadpool will build his “momentum meter” which allows him to perform some special attacks and sometimes area of effect moves. Through upgrades you’ll gain new abilities and before you know it, you’ll be a powerhouse. Deadpool does have his trademark health regeneration but that doesn’t mean you can’t die. The regeneration takes a few seconds to begin, so if you’re taking constant damage, you’ll need to find a place to hide and wait. I found it interesting that as Deadpool takes damage, his model also degrades similar to what X-Men Origins: Wolverine did. Makes sense when you consider that both games are Activision products, but ti didn’t stop me from being surprised upon seeing Deadpool’s chewed up face at one point.The game isn’t extremely challenging but it will test your skill a bit during the last chapter as the difficult spikes a bit due to waves of enemies being thrown at you.
While combat is fairly simple, High Moon also mapped both the teleport and counter attack move to the same button. While the standard press will allow you to short wave teleport, when an enemy is about to attack, a button prompt appears over their head letting you know you can counter them. More than a few times the game got confused and I’d teleport when I actually wanted to counter.
If you need something else to do outside of the campaign, Deadpool also comes with a number of Challenge Maps which amount to a series of wave based challenges. Depending on the skill level (Bronze, Silver, Gold), you’re given a completion time and set about to defeat every enemy over 3 rounds. It’s nothing revolutionary and matches don’t take terribly long so it’s something you can bang out pretty quick if you’re looking for something to do. At the very least, the DP points you earn can be used in the campaign for upgrades.
Ultimately, when we’re looking back at the end of the year, Deadpool probably won’t be on anyone’s short list for game of the year. It’s understandable considering that it embraces wholeheartedly exactly what it is: a hack and slash title. Deadpool is ultimately like a summer action movie where you grab your popcorn, sit down and switch your brain off for an hour and a half. There’s nothing wrong with that and while it may not be the best movie out there, sometimes that’s all you really want. That’s what Deadpool represents. It’s a fun and frantic action title that won’t win any awards, but in the end, it doesn’t care about any of that. It’s a fun game that’s better than most people probably think, just don’t go in expecting something like The Last of Us.