Translating popular comic book characters into a video game is no easy feat —Superman 64 anyone? While most end up as quick cash-ins, occasionally we get our hands on a title from a developer that not only understands what the fanbase is looking for, but respects the license. Executing it twice with two original Transformers titles, developer High Moon Studios succeeds in turning Deadpool’s first video game into something that should keep the pitchforks and torches out of the hands of fans of the violent, offensive mercenary.
With the help of longtime Deadpool writer Daniel Way, everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth decides he wants to star in his own video game. Best known for breaking the fourth wall, Deadpool intimidates the game’s developer through some minor threats to create a game based around him. Uninterested in reading through the game’s script, he decides to carry out a hit on a corrupt media mogul, but the diabolical Mr. Sinister steps in and kills his target instead. Clearly, this doesn’t sit well with Deadpool, as he goes on a murderous rampage to seek revenge against Mr. Sinister and his Marauders–Arclight, Blockbuster, and Vertigo. Packed with sexual jokes, X-Men character cameos and video game parodies, the vaguely coherent story comes together to form something hilarious and widely entertaining.
But lets not forget, Deadpool is a game, and when it comes to presentation, it’s about as generic as it gets. Aside from some memorable moments like getting sucked into an 8-bit dungeon crawler or suddenly appearing in an retro-inspired side-scrolling level, the bland and uninspired environments are disappointing. Thankfully, raunchy one-liners and the schizophrenic conversations of the two voices within Deadpool’s head (all voiced by Nolan North) will keep you stimulated as you travel along linear paths. Where the presentations really stumbles is with the game’s camera. With the attention span of a two year old, the camera constantly shifts at the wrong time. Managing the camera placement becomes a laborious process, causing you to easily lose track of enemies during intense encounters or miss platforms while jumping.
When you’re not battling with camera placement, Deadpool’s combat is similar to Rocksteady’s Batman, consisting of both heavy, light and counter attacks, which you can combine to create powerful combos. He can also incorporate shooting to perform “Gunkata” attacks. While it’s fun pumping bullets into an enemy before you slice him with your katana, the intricacy for each combo is lacking when compared to other games in the genre. The animations are smooth, but switching between weapons using the D-pad felt a little clunky, and it makes it near impossible to swap between weapons mid-combo. Carving up enemies using simple button-mashing combos will earn you DP (Deadpool) points. In addition to being spewed around each level, these points can be spent on purchasing upgrades and weapons such as twin Sais, sledgehammers, landmines, and plasma rifles or character improvements. But aside from two or three worthy weapons, it’s a shallow upgrade system that doesn’t really alter the gameplay.
Still, Deadpool features a few combat mechanics that definitely add to the experience, such as a “Momentum Meter” that allows him to unleash special moves. Temporarily making him invincible, these momentum based attacks come in handy when the odds are stacked against you–which is often. Deadpool can also teleport over small distances, which is very handy when you need a quick escape when cornered or a moment to regenerate your health. Unfortunately, teleporting is tailored to the same button that allows you to pull off a finishing move on a dazed enemy; if your timing is off, you’ll be subjected to some frustrating moments where you’ll teleport right past them. Teleporting in cramped places can be especially bewildering because of the close camera positioning.
Thanks to Mr. Sinister’s fondness of cloning, Deadpool will face an army of similar looking enemies. Although they bring new skills or weapons onto the battlefield, they lack intelligence. This is more apparent near the end of the game where the only way to compensate for their stupidity is to pack the battlefield with waves of enemies. Even boss battles won’t produce much of a challenge. Instead, they all play out the same, tasking you with strafing in circles while pumping your foe full of bullet holes. They’re tedious and consist of finding the pattern and then attacking. It’s a shame that encounters with the “D-list” villains are less interesting than the cut-scenes that follow their deaths.
Lastly, Deadpool lacks any replay value once you’ve completed the 6 or so hours campaign. Barren of collectibles, the only reason to keep the game around is to play the Challenge Mode levels, which are merely a series of survival modes set in the same levels you just played through. The only purpose of playing these this mode is to upload your score onto the online leaderboard.
Even with a few gameplay issues, High Moon Studios managed to take the maniacal, murderous, and very schizophrenic antihero and create a very entertaining superhero game. Long time Deadpool fans will more than likely enjoy every minute of the game, but those not familiar with Deadpool’s persona may be put off with the juvenile humor, sexual themes and uninspired gameplay.
Editor’s Note: Deadpool was reviewed using a PlayStation 3 copy of the game. If further investigation reveals any differences between the PC, 360 and the PS3 edition of the game, this review will be updated to reflect those differences.