Bullets and sex dolls and blood — oh my!
Out of Marvel Comics’ nearly infinite staple of super folks, Deadpool is a character that has been literally begging for an adaptation from the comic page. He’s Marvel’s resident, psychotic jester and their closest chance at an “anything goes” monthly title. He’s a foul-mouthed, misogynistic and schizophrenic assassin-for-hire whose only loves in the world are carnage, chicks and chimichangas. Not only that, but he’s one of Marvel’s rare forays into metafiction, a character who happens to be fully aware that he’s not real but just a character in a comic book. He’s been dubbed the “Merc with the Mouth” because he doesn’t simply break the fourth wall, he packs it with a metric ton of plastic explosives and blows it into smithereens.
Sounds like someone who could certainly star in his own video game, right? Well, High Moon Studios thought so too, and despite a somewhat rocky road to completion, they have captured the essence of both the character and his quirky antics perfectly. Now if only they could have taken what they did oh, so right, and actually turned that into a decent game.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the hell out of playing this game. In fact, this game is so funny in parts that I was literally in tears and had to pause the game to avoid being brutally murdered. I mean, if you told me that the script for this game had been written from a compilation of random scribbles on the back of cocktail napkins found in a frat house after a particularly brutal weekend bender, I wouldn’t doubt it in the slightest. The humor is irreverent, sophomoric and “no holds barred,“ just like the source material. That being said, if you’re easily offended… this is not the title for you.
Also, there’s quite a bit of fan service on display here for those paying attention. There are quite a few B-Squad Marvel heroes and villains that put in cameos (such as Cable, Psylocke and Mister Sinister), as well as a few A-Listers (X-Men’s Wolverine and Rogue). And veteran voice actor Nolan North once again puts his most psychotic foot forward to breathe life into the mouth of the Merc, and he is just a slice of manic perfection.
But that’s where the fun ends, I’m afraid. The gameplay itself is nothing more than a sub-par hack & slash brawler, fighting wave after wave of enemies that look exactly the same (they play this off by saying that they’re clones, but it’s a thinly veiled excuse), going on simple, yet extremely annoying fetch quests, and then fighting a boss or two. Rinse and repeat. There are a few amusing instances where they try to briefly change up the game’s monotony, such as when the titular character uses up the game’s budget and it switches to a top-down perspective 8-bit dungeon crawler, a la The Legend of Zelda, or when they utilize Little Big Planet-esque cardboard cutout style graphics, or even when Deadpool has to use the comic book word bubbles from the dueling voices in his head to bridge a nasty gap, but they are too few and too far between.
The combat system may offer a decent amount of unlockable combos, character upgrades and different weapon options, but the fighting itself is far from fluid, and your awkward and wooden movements call to mind last gen titles. And though the graphics have some decent lighting effects and the textures have a distinct smoothness to them, they are certainly not up to par with most of the other titles being released these days.
The level design is so overtly generic for a title in this genre (office building, sewers, lost island, etc.), I would love to think that they were poking some self-referential fun and trying to be ironic with these design choices, but there’s honestly no evidence to support that theory. In fact, I feel as though I already played a much better version of this game in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged Edition (minus the humor, of course), and for a game being released at the end of a console cycle, that’s a sad statement.
The most fun to be had with this game is probably in the first ten minutes exploring all the interactive nooks and crannies of Deadpool’s disgusting apartment, or just leaving the game sitting idle to see what torrent of profanities & insanities spew from beneath his mask. In my opinion, playing Deadpool is like listening to a shock jock DJ: it’s pure grindhouse gaming. It’s designed to hit you with a sensory overload of gore and pitch-black, vulgar humor that’s so low-brow that it’s virtually no-brow with visual gags attempting to hide the fact that, much like the character of Deadpool himself, there’s really nobody behind the wheel here. [subscribe2]