Most developers manifest a certain trademark over the course of their work. High Moon Studios is slowly becoming the fan service team under Activision’s wing. After successfully making Transformers videogames relevant, they now move onto Marvel Comic’s most eccentric personality, Deadpool. Crafting an experience around a character like this has to be one of the most interesting endeavors the team has undertaken, yet the final product showcases so much of what makes the Merc with the Mouth so appealing. Deadpool was fun from beginning to end; I just wish it was a little more refined.
For those who don’t know, Deadpool is what is considered an anti-hero in the comics. He was originally a very serious character, but the story now revolves around how the Weapon-X guys gave him healing powers, which in turn caused him to go nuts. He is completely aware he is a comic book character, and always lets the reader know. This is how he translates into the game. He knows he is being controlled by the player, and even razzes them from time to time. It’s a unique take on the genre, and one that lends itself well to a video game.
Strictly as a game, Deadpool plays it pretty safe. This is a straightforward action title with mixtures of melee combat and gunplay. Deadpool has a variety of combos that integrate both, and there are upgrades that can be purchased to increase health, bullet damage and more. There is certainly nothing special about the core game play. In fact, it can get a tad repetitive over time, with a massive difficulty spike towards the end of the game.
Combos are strung together much like any action game. Guns can also be tossed into the mix of some combos, and Deadpool also unlocks special moves that can help clear the screen of particularly tough baddies. The melee combat works fairly well, while the gunplay suffers from a tricky lock-on mechanic that fought me more than the enemies did. Successive kills earn Deadpool Points (DP), which can be spent on buying new weapons and upgrades. In typical fashion, Deadpool even explains this mechanic with a hint of sarcasm about how he should already have all of these powers and weapons. He can also teleport, which is assigned to the same button as the counter attack during combat. Needless to say, I teleported a lot when I was trying to actually counter.
What sets this experience apart is the character. Deadpool knows he is in a video game. He is the one who convinced (threatened) High Moon to make it. The entire game is self-aware, and Deadpool even makes jokes about gaming tropes such as giving powers that his character should already have, and even going as far as calling the designer of the game to complain about various aspects. It is very tongue-in-cheek, and also very humorous. I absolutely loved the ridiculous mini-games that accomplished very little other than to accent the insanity of some video game clichés.
Comedy is a hard sell in gaming, but when done right, it can change an ordinary experience into something worth playing. That was the theme I got from Deadpool from the beginning. Whether I was dropping a “stink pickle”, or preparing a bouncy castle for a dramatic exit, High Moon has captured what makes this character so much fun. They really did their homework, and I had a smile on my face almost the entire time.
Levels are carved out of boring set pieces, but it is the content that keeps them interesting. Whether I was powering up a super boot, or singing acapella in an elevator, there was rarely a dull moment. This is what helped keep me from growing tired of the stale combat. Yes, there really isn’t much here if you strip away the humor and constant videogame tropes, but that is the point.
Visually the game is fine, nothing too fancy though. It does look significantly sharper on the PC than consoles. As I mentioned, level design falls flat outside of a few notable locales. I really loved the circus-style shooting gallery and the 8-bit dungeon, but they were too short lived. Nolan North delivers a fantastic performance as Deadpool. Arguing with the voices in his head is amazing, and the phone call I made to Nolan North in the beginning to ask him to do the voice work was priceless. Music is not so great, comprised of low-budget sounding rock tunes. Only the licensed tracks that Deadpool sings along with are noteworthy.
Sadly there isn’t much in the form of replay value. The challenges are mostly survival waves on the single player’s levels, and collectibles are almost non-existent. I would have loved to see more comic-style descriptions of characters, as told by Deadpool like I found in the game or even something mundane that he could make fun of. Instead there are tacos which do much of nothing, and a whole lot of nothing to do once the campaign is complete.
Deadpool is fun. I cannot stress enough how much I value an entertaining experience, which is what High Moon delivers here. Fans of the character will love it, and if you are like me and are only vaguely familiar, the tropes and meta humor carry it through the brief campaign. I wish there was more to keep me coming back, but after the credits rolled, I was pretty much done with the experience. Still it is definitely one worth having, and I recommend checking it out if you enjoy the character, or comic book games in general.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PC.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
- Memory: Corsair 8GB 1600 Mghz Vengeance
- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670