An inane, insane brawler which captures Deadpool brilliantly, but this is still a game for true fans of the character only
Marvel’s recent movie success has turned niche characters like Thor and Hawkeye into household names, but if there’s one character that we think deserves more time in the spotlight its Deadpool. Thankfully, developers High Moon Studios agree, and have given the Merc with a Mouth his own game.
For the uninitiated, Deadpool is a mercenary with an accelerated healing factor, replicated from Wolverine during the Weapon X program. As well as being able to heal any injury, his powers restore lost brain cells at an astonishing rate, which has left him… rather unstable. Walking a thin line between comically inept, criminally insane and psychopathically violent, he’s a unique character that’s more concerned with breaking the fourth wall than acting like an archetypal superhero. Some fantastic motion capture and a suitably over-the-top voiceover by Nolan North (also known as Uncharted’s Nathan Drake, among many others)
It’s this attitude which sees the game start in Deadpool’s dilapidated apartment, rewriting the developer’s original script with thick red marker. There’s plenty of toilet humour, bad language and sight gags thrown in for good measure, and that’s before the game begins proper. Unfortunately, once it does, you’re thrown through a series of cliché sewers, industrial complexes and office blocks. Deadpool himself, and the two voices in his head, even comment on the laziness of the developers, but we’d rather see some unique locations than have a brief laugh at the designers’ expense. Things to get better towards the middle portion of the game, but it’s a shame to have to start in such stereotypical fashion.
Things don’t really improve from there, as the gameplay in general can be fairly monotonous. As a mercenary armed with guns and swords, Deadpool can choose between long range and melee combat. Light and heavy attacks let you mix up hand to hand battles and several more damaging momentum attacks unlocked after scoring a long enough combo chain. These are best reserved for multiple enemies, which can quickly surround you, or the tougher brutes. Liberal use of Deadpool’s signature teleport and counter attacks can keep basic grunts at bay, but you’ll need to use your grenades if you get swamped.
This is fine if you’re playing on a controller, but the game handles terribly if you try to play with a keyboard and mouse. Our advice would be to plug in an Xbox pad as it makes a massive difference, even if it means shooting won’t be quite as precise. Luckily, gunplay acts more like a fallback when you take too much damage during melee combat, and need to back off to regain some of Deadpool’s regenerating life.
Like any post-Call of Duty game, there are obligatory weapon and ability unlocks and upgrades to earn, based on the points you earn from defeating enemies. Aside from dealing more damage or hitting faster, these feel largely unnecessary, as they don’t shake up the gameplay to any real degree; when you’re fully upgraded, you’re still performing the same combos as you were at the beginning of the game, only now you hit harder and faster.
Throughout each battle, Deadpool constantly spews out a stream of one-liners and quips that start off mildly funny, but quickly lose all effectiveness as there simply aren’t enough of them before they begin to repeat. We grew tired of them long before we’d reached the half-way point.
This is a shame, as there’s a huge amount of lovingly voiced dialog for each character, including several familiar faces that will please fans of the Marvel universe. X-Men alumni and cult favourites like Wolverine, Rogue and Cable make a steady trickle of cameo appearances, with each one introduced with a recap of their comic book appearances. There’s clearly a lot of love for the source material here, even if Deadpool doesn’t exactly treat it with respect – the mini-game where you slap Wolverine and the objectification of the female characters spring to mind, although they are in keeping with the character.
Although it won’t strain a reasonably powerful PC, Deadpool at least looks reasonable – once you make your way out of the dark sewers at the start of the game, anyway. There’s not a huge number of graphics settings to tweak, but on full the characters are detailed and the environments (can be) well lit. Each level is fairly compact, with lots of corridors and cramped spaces which aren’t exactly easy on the eye, but some of the larger open areas have at least given the art department some creative freedom, and it shows. We prefer the unique visual style of Capcom’s DMC: Devil May Cry, as bar a few isolated areas most of Deadpool’s locations are generic and forgettable.
If you’re a fan of the character, Deadpool is an occasionally funny game that brings the comics to life and does justice to the source material, unlike the butchery that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, gameplay is mediocre, there’s very little challenge and the humour quickly wears thin. If you’re just after a quality hack-and-slash adventure, there are much more enjoyable alternatives that are more worthy of your time and attention.