Deadpool is one of the funniest characters in comics and somehow, High Moon has managed to keep his crazy sense of humor intact in video game form. You know you’re in for a memorable experience when it starts off in his apartment talking to High Moon about developing his game, but rejecting the idea of it being scripted via explosions and then being allowed to do what he wants. The end result is something with a lot of fourth-wall breaking, like Deadpool talking to Nolan North…who voices Deadpool, about how much he sucks. That’s just one of the many wacky things you can do in his apartment, on top of things like making pancakes, trying to eat pizza with a face-covering mask on, and increasing the size of his black censor bar.
The sense of humor in the game is completely insane, but always get a laugh. Gaming tropes are played with, and it leads to a lot of amusing little side-sections. There’s one area that’s an homage to the overhead Legend of Zelda games, complete with sound-alike soundtrack while a tube-sliding mini-game has wacky surfer music playing. Game budgets are used as punchlines, as is developmental crunch time, which I honestly never expected to see referenced in a game let alone joked about.
Deadpool plays with conventions and has a lot of fun with them, and it helps make the experience seem a lot fresher than it should. The core game is a melee/shooter that seems to re-use the Wolverine: Origins engine for fighting. Like that, you’ve got light attacks, heavy attacks, and the ability to mix them up. Deadpool’s healing factor also plays into things exactly as it did there, with grisly body degeneration exposing flesh and organs as you take damage. The melee portion of things works out nearly perfectly, just like it did in Origins but the addition of gunplay adds some wrinkled to things.
While the shooting setup is fairly easy to control with the right stick and buttons, the camera is all over the place and makes it harder to be accurate when you’re darting all over the place with the teleport to avoid gunfire. You’ll often wind up shooting from afar and landing, only to have a horde of enemies come in, so you teleport around their fire and wind up with the camera basically through you while you’re trying to shoot accurately. It winds up changing things up from a firefight into a melee combat war since then you can at least see Deadpool at all times and figure out where you are in relation to your enemies. This issue will cause some needless damage and deaths, but checkpoints are fairly frequent and the actual aiming mechanic is perfect when you’re using larger things like turrets, rocket launchers, or grenade launchers.
The melee combat is a lot of fun and being able to alternate between say, a sword, and even A SET OF SLEDGEHAMMERS allows you to change up your strategy a bit. There’s also a stealth element, but it’s far from pronounced and really just comes into play occasionally – which is good since Deadpool’s wacky sneaking animation would make the enemies seem like real idiots if they missed him a lot. While the combat does have some depth to it, there isn’t a lot and it does result in the waves of enemies formula getting old. Fortunately, they tend to mix it up enough to keep things interesting with mini-games, but the core game can wear out its welcome if you try to play it a lot without a break.
Visually, Deadpool looks fairly solid for the most part. His character model looks outstanding with a lot of emotion and facial expressions visible despite the mask and his body language conveying things nicely. All of the major characters look detailed, but lesser enemies look terrible. They’re generic, look identical, and while the game plays with that by saying they’re clones, it still comes off as a bit cheap. This isn’t helped by muddy textures that don’t have much depth to them, or the occasional glimpse of an object with unfinished texture work.
The rock-heavy soundtrack fits Deadpool’s general Dudebro uber-masculine to the MAX attitude perfectly and accents the fast-paced action too. Nolan North does an outstanding job capturing Deadpool’s attitude throughout the game – which isn’t too surprising considering he’s played him before. It’s still a compliment since it’s one thing to make it work for a cameo or fighting game appearance, and another to do it for an entire game. Slicing and dicing sound effects are great, but the best ones come from the ’60s Batman-style ones that occur during combos. The only thing that could make them better would be giant word balloons popping up during battle.
Deadpool is rough around the edges in some major ways, but if you love the character, it’s worth picking up on sale. $50 is way too high a price to pay for a game that is just an 8-10 hour campaign with some challenge missions thrown in. It’s a really fun ride while it lasts, and is a perfect $30 pickup or an extended rental. The game really nails the character’s sense of humor and is also worth playing if you loved the Wolverine: Origins game since this is basically that but it offers up more ways to maim and has a lot more comedy.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
This review is based on a digital copy of Deadpool for the PlayStation 3 provided by Activision.
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