Okay folks, full disclosure time again. Going into this game I had almost no idea who Deadpool was. Tragic, I know. My knowledge was that he was a wise-cracking anti-superhero type with a faithful fan following whose big problem currently was the unwillingness of idiots in Hollywood to accept an R-rated movie adaptation from comic books.
Hey wait! Don’t just scroll down to the score and leave me hanging here. We have a rare opportunity on hand, I actually played through the whole game before doing this review. With good reason too. This game is what you get when a publisher with too much money gets a comic character license and then gives it to a very talented studio but with a low budget. The result is a lot of medium quality technical stuff backed with fantastic hilarity, ultimately adding up to what is more or less an early-gen experience managing to be more than the sum of its parts.
Before we delve into those technicals I’d be remiss not to explore the humor in more depth. As I said I didn’t know Deadpool (though now I consider myself a new fan) so I can’t say if this game is true to his comic roots. I know that’s important to a lot of folks, and I get the feeling in my gut they got him mostly right. That said, you have to know, if you don’t, this is the epitome juvenile humor. It is random, butt-scratching and dick joking gags mixed with the playground mentality of Deadpool’s batsh*t crazy mind. The story revolves around Deadpool getting his own game and hunting down Sinister, a Dracula wannabe that I remember from Saturday morning cartoons. (Please send me hate mail giving me more details on Sinister’s awesomeness).
The gameplay in Deadpool is not especially impressive anywhere. You start with your two swords and two pistols against your basic hordes of unremarkable bad guys. The bad guys aren’t too bright, but they certainly don’t need to be in a game like this. To be frank, the enemy is fodder. They are just there for you to have fun killing. Is killing them fun? It can be, but it is also repetitive as hell. There’s a little variation here and there such as flying enemies, various heavies, enemies that generate shields for others, and enemies that raise the strength of buddies nearby. There is not much enemy variation.
By killing people you will collect DP, (that’s Deadpool Points, get your mind out of the gutter). These can be spent to upgrade your weapons, unlock combos, purchase more weapons, or upgrade your player. Deadpool has special moves that are usually kind of funny, like a breakdance maneuver; these are called momentum attacks. Here the game does something new finally. Taking damage charges your momentum attacks separately. As such you don’t spend all your momentum energy each time you execute a special attack, you only expend that certain momentum move so you can charge them all up and become a serious weapon or use them whenever they are ready. The combat is very arcade-like. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you ought to know there isn’t much depth here. There’s a little fun to be had in trying to get the attacks right, but you’ll probably have more fun just button mashing. Deadpool won’t mind much, but he might call you out in the game.
The level design is very basic on all fronts. There is simple puzzle solving, light to medium platforming, and standard PS2-era shooting. High Moon does a fine job with the pacing though, I never felt like I was on a padded grindfest because the encounters are constantly broken up by funny cut scenes and Tim Burton-like interludes. Some highlights include DP’s cooky cartoony sneaking when doing stealth kills and the occasional ability to uh… manipulate others. Speaking of that, there are some gameplay additions/surprises in the second half that are a lot of fun but if I told you about them I’d ruin the humor. Watch out for the camera, you need to swing it around a lot because it will mess you up in tight quarters. I finished Deadpool in roughly 7 ½ hours without doing much trophy hunting or collection of tacos. Yup, tacos.
Remember when I mentioned the game was probably on a tight budget? It wasn’t that long ago. Well High Moon used that to their advantage, whenever the budget for his game runs low Deadpool finds himself in a cheaper, old school version of his game, which is actually pretty damn funny. This means some neat but brief scenes of top-down and side-scrolling gaming until our hero can get ahold of the developers and get them some more money.
The graphics are nice and clean but largely unremarkable. Unsurprising DP himself looks the best out of everything. Where his animations are nice and smooth everybody else is a little stiffer, but don’t worry they put enough va-voom into the busty ladies of the game. Nobody in the game really feels like they are a part of their environment and lighting is… well it’s there. The backdrops are serviceable and they feel like backdrops instead of actual environments. The special effects are stunted and mediocre.
There are a few graphical hitches here and there but frame rate slowdown is a bigger problem. The fact that the game does a tiny bit of purposeful slow-mo during attacks sort of confuses the frame rate issue, and it can affect the gameplay when things get crowded. Thankfully High Moon balances this out the best they can as the controls stay mostly responsive during frame rate dips to minimize annoyance.
Where the sound is concerned… umm, I think there was music in it. Yeah, there was. It was not memorable, it filled the silence. There were some metal-type tunes and basic plinky-plunky comic accentuation. That’s it, move on. Actually I was impressed with the voice work. Nolan North really shows his range as Deadpool and the supporting actors play their parts well with North playing off them expertly. It does not suffer from that deadly syndrome where it sounds like everyone recorded their parts in separate studios at separate times (except maybe where the X-men come in). Overall it’s cohesive in that department. The voices save the sound score quite a bit for me because elsewhere there’s a lot of “good enough” going on in the sound effects. “Minimum necessary” describes a lot of what’s going on outside of the voice work.
I can’t see much lasting appeal in Deadpool, you have to look for it. Trophy hunting is probably not so tedious since you get enough random humor to keep you from getting bored, and there’s a good chance you missed some on your first play through. Other than that its mindless fun and comedy could be something that big fans of Deadpool might want to revisit every now and then when they need a bit of insanity or perhaps after a Deadpool movie gets chopped into crap by Hollywood and then barfed into theaters. I felt like this game was akin to a western comic book version of something like a Suda 51 Grasshopper Manufacture game. If you played Shadows of the Damned or Lollipop Chainsaw then you’re familiar with technically inferior but over the top fun.
The game has plenty of problems, but it’s a lot of fun if you are into its twisted, random humor. As I said above the game made me a fan of Deadpool himself so that should say something. If you are already a fan I recommend you snap this up but perhaps not at the full retail price unless you want to be a major supporter of the merc with the mouth.
(Reviewed on PS3. Review code supplied by Activision. Thank you.)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 8/10
Gameplay/Design – 7/10
Visuals – 6.5/10
Sound – 7/10
Lasting Appeal – 5/10
Overall – 7/10
(Not an average)
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: High Moon Studios
Ratings: ESRB: M, PEGI 18+