Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, was a test subject of the Weapon X Program, which was responsible for creating the X-Men character Wolverine. He has superhuman regenerative powers from the experiments but it has left him completely insane. Ever since, he has been a manic unstable mercenary willing to take just about any job if the pay is good, or if the comic writers force him. Deadpool is also a fully self-aware comic book character, knowing that he’s in a comic book (or videogame) and exploits this knowledge to his advantage or for shear nihilistic laughs. The character has gained a lot of popularity through his guest appearances in other Marvel videogames, but High Moon Studios, creators of Transormers: War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, have been tasked with giving the Merc with a Mouth his own videogame. Chances are if you already knew all of the above information, this hack and slasher will be right up your alley, if not, then there may be some issues keeping you from making this an immediate buy.
The story, what little there is, begins with Deadpool convincing High Moon Studios to make a videogame for him. After agreeing not to blow up High Moon’s main offices, they send him a script. Deadpool, being the creative writer that he is, proceeds to re-write most of it, scratching things off and adding “improvements” to the script in crayon. What remains of the story involves Wade rubbing shoulders with the X-Men, slicing and shooting through armies of clones, and stopping a world domination plan by the evil Mister Sinister.
If that meta-story seems too dopey or silly to be taken seriously, that’s the whole point. Deadpool’s major strength comes from its humor being obnoxious, fourth wall breaking, and juvenile to the point of almost being embarrassing. In the prologue alone, Deadpool makes a thousand pancakes, makes a phone call to his own voice-actor, uses the bathroom complete with a censor bar, and accidentally lifts up an entire bookcase while looking for a particular book and casually observes that it was the mistake of a junior artist. This humor continues throughout the entire campaign, with some gory slapstick and general weirdness for good measure. Deadpool even takes a couple of jabs at High Moon Studios with jokes involving software patches, platforming sections, and the like.
As a fan of Deadpool, I can confidently say that the humor in this game is spot on. Deadpool’s seemingly nonsensical plans coming together, the three-way conversations he has with himself, and the spare cameo appearances by popular Marvel heroes like Wolverine and Cable serving as straight men to his foil are consistently entertaining. Even in the moment to moment gameplay very few of the Merc with a Mouth’s one-liners get repeated, which is a good thing since each one is effectively succinct crisp and brief.
The actual gameplay for Deadpool is a pretty standard hack and slasher that takes notes from Batman: Arkham City and Warhammer 40k Space Marine. You alternate between slicing and dicing faceless soldiers with swords and switching to over-the-shoulder shooting with pistols. As you rack up combos by slashing, shooting, and countering enemy strikes, you will build up a momentum bar which grants access to powerful special attacks that vary depending on what weapon Deadpool has equipped at the time.
There is an auto-aim function that lets you immediately lock on to an enemy you are facing if they are out of melee range. Most of the time it works and keeps the action consistent, but it relies on you not moving the camera or else the targeting reticle is thrown off. As a matter of fact, the camera is more annoying than any enemy you’ll face in this game. It needlessly rotates as you fight enemies, occasionally getting stuck on the environment until you wrestle it back into line. This is especially annoying in areas with enclosed spaces which can leave you effectively fighting blind.
As annoying as the camera can be, the gameplay is still solid. The melee attacks have satisfying weight to them, the guns pack a solid punch, and everything just has a satisfying meat to it. As you kill more and more enemies, you obtain Deadpool Points which can be used to upgrade your weapons, health bar, and unlock new combos. This helps give just enough extra depth to the gameplay for it not to be a completely repetitive slog.
In fact, repetition is easily amended with some rote but not unwelcome changes in gameplay. Pretty standard action-game staples such as platforming bits, turret sections, key-hunting puzzles and very brief stealth sections all make an appearance in some form or another and do their part. It is easy to point that these elements are tired and overused in every single action game imaginable and accuse Deadpool of not innovating or at least subverting these worn tropes and cliches. However, save for a comment about sewer levels from the titular anti-hero, that isn’t on the game’s agenda. This isn’t a game trying to make fun of video games are subvert its own genre with an attempt at post-modernism or have anything profound to say. It’s a game that uses a tested and true formula with a chaotic protagonist and comedic tone. With that in mind, the game’s boss fights do suffer a bit from being damage sponges and the final level is a breaking point of repetitive battles of attrition that go on way too long and does slow the game’s pace to a crawl.
Deadpool isn’t an ugly game by any stretch of the imagination. The design of the models are distinct. Animation is fluid and solid, even while showing Deadpool slinging around sledgehammers like a maniac. Framerate does dip every now and then but not enough to be a burden. Overall, solid
Nolan North’s voice-acting work is pretty ubiquitous in videogames. He’s had parts in Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed, Army of Two, Portal 2, Spec Ops The Line, Metro Last Light, Batman: Arkham City, the list goes on. What can easily be forgotten is that he gets work because of how good of a voice actor he is, and he fits the role of Deadpool like a glove. He manages to not only perfectly embody Deadpool’s schizophrenic nuttiness but also deliver jokes that would otherwise fall flat. The soundtrack is otherwise pretty forgettable generic rock to accompany the combat.
Deadpool’s campaign is about seven to eight hours long. Normally this would be a pretty pathetic running time for a game with no hidden collectibles or multiplayer. But, for a game with such random bits of humor and a protagonist that can grate after a while, this is actually a decent length. Final level aside, there isn’t much in terms of padding, and as such the game doesn’t overstay its welcome and become a tired joke you just get tired of hearing over and over. There are a series of Challenge Mode maps that are basically prolonged survival matches if you really dig the combat that much, but there isn’t much else otherwise.
In the end, Deadpool succeeds at what it sets out to do, deliver a serviceable action game that fans will enjoy. It’s not amazing, but neither is it the worst game I’ve ever played. If you’re a fan of the comics, then Deadpool should be an enjoyable ride. If you aren’t, you may want to adjust your expectations or wait for it to go on sale.
By the time the credits rolled I swear I lost some IQ points from how silly, inane, random, and mildly sexist the whole game was. And I regret nothing.
AAG SCORE: 7/10
- Responsive and Satisfying Combat
- Great Deadpool Humor
- Stays Fresh from Start to Finish
- Repetitive Boss Fights
- Camera Issues
- Humor and Content Might Not Be For Everyone