Systems: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Developer: High Moon Studios
ESRB: Mature 17+
Deadpool isn’t as well-known as Wolverine, The Hulk or Spider-Man but he probably should be. Marvel Comics seems to agree, as they are slowly but surely giving him more exposure. He appeared briefly in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and is a character in Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Now the “Merc With a Mouth” has his own game, and it is M-rated. This is not, let me repeat not, the goofy but largely harmless Deadpool from the Marvel vs. Capcom universe. This game earns every bit of its mature rating with violence, sexual content and just disturbing images from the twisted mind of Deadpool.
The Fourth Wall Is The First Victim
If you have never read the adventures of Deadpool, let me give you a little background. Wade Wilson was a mercenary dying of cancer when the Weapon X program experimented on him. They used Wolverine’s DNA to replicate his healing factor in Wilson. It worked, but an unfortunate side effect strengthened the cancerous growths in his body. He is horribly disfigured and quite insane, but that mental illness has made him aware he is a character in a comic book. Thus, he is well aware that he is in a video game. In fact, he’s using all his resources to cajole, coerce and blackmail High Moon Studios into making his game. If those winking nudges at the camera bother you at all, Deadpool isn’t your game.
Deadpool keeps his lampshade handy at every step in this adventure. He jokes about recognizing the recycling enemies. There are stages that pay tribute to 8-bit platformers and RPGs, under the guise of High Moon Studios running out of money during the game’s development. And of course, the title character makes fun of the player’s skill as he gets wounded or eventually dies.
Would You Like Sais with That Combo?
The combat in Deadpool is the Arkham Asylum-lite system we have seen in just about every superhero game since Rocksteady revolutionized the genre with its Batman games. Weapons range from things that would make sense such as swords and guns, to ridiculous implements of destruction including bear traps and comedically large hammers.
Killing enemies yields Deadpool points, which upgrade both his weapons and the mercenary himself. A healing factor ensures he’s going to be safe in all but the toughest of scrapes. He also has a short range teleportation move and don’t worry, Wade will break the fourth wall and remind you to use it if he is taking too much damage. The problem here is that teleporting and countering are mapped to the same button. I spent the entire game porting when I wanted to be countering and vice versa. It is still fun to throw down a bear trap and then light up the helpless enemy with sais or 9mms, but just having counter and teleport being on separate buttons would have made fighting so much more intuitive and enjoyable.
The camera isn’t the fastest about snapping back into location, either. There is a button to lock your targeting onto an opponent but it’s not completely reliable. Even after doing so, you may need to readjust the camera. I can see what High Moon meant to do with combat, but the execution is less than stellar.
My Life on the D-List
Being aware he’s a comic book character means Deadpool is well aware of things such as how many more books Wolverine appears in than he does. The X-Men, including Wolvie, make brief cameo appearances. Our hero gets to save some characters far more powerful and popular than he. But in the fashion of his books, he still doesn’t earn their lasting respect or a date with sexy ladies such as Psylocke and Rogue. The overall villain is Mr. Sinister, who does much of his work through henchmen. He’s an expert in cloning, the game’s excuse to keep hurling the same enemies at you over and over. Assisting Sinister are the Marauders, who rank about as high on the villain scale as Deadpool does on the hero scale. There is some fan out there who will be ecstatic that Arclight, Blockbuster and Vertigo have prominent parts in a mainstream video game release, and this game is absolutely for them.
Fans of Deadpool’s comic pairing with Cable will be happy to know he reprises his role as the ultimate straight man to Wade’s psychopath. Even if you know the bios for Cable and all the other cameo characters, hit the button to listen the description anyway. I still have Cable’s entrance music stuck in my head. As the two reluctant buddies fight armies of clones, I couldn’t help but smile at a scene I could easily visualize taking place in a Marvel book.
Just Listen to the Voices
High Moon proved their nerd cred with the Transformers games, and that same level of love for the source material is present here. Daniel Way, who has written several of the merc’s comic adventures, is obviously at home here. He understands Deadpool as much as anyone realistically can. I don’t remember what Sinister’s master plan was, but that’s not the important part. The game’s hero wants to save the day, have an awesome video game and go on a date with Rogue. These are all goals I can support.
Because of the aforementioned problems with combat and repetitive enemies, this game isn’t going to top anyone’s list come award time. That’s a shame for Nolan North, who has done incredible work with Deadpool and the voices in his head. He captures the essence of a character probably unlike anyone he’s ever played. There are some bust out laughing moments and North nails them. His work here isn’t just some of the best voice work of 2013, it rivals the best he has ever done. For a man with Uncharted’s Nathan Drake on his resume, that’s saying quite a lot.
Deadpool doesn’t reinvent the action game. In terms of the combat and gameplay, there is nothing you haven’t seen before and several things you have seen done better elsewhere. But the main character himself makes it an enjoyable experience. The sheer amount of dialogue High Moon recorded is amazing, and Nolan North delivers it with enough crazy conviction to make Wade proud. Any fan of the source material, or any of Marvel’s X-Universe stuff should pick this up, as should any gamer looking for some belly laughs.