Deadpool is one of those Marvel Comics characters that people seldom fully understand. He’s overpowered, in that he can’t be killed (he has Wolverine’s healing factor). He constantly breaks the fourth wall, conversing directly to the reader, or criticizing the writer and/or artist for anything they might do wrong. His adventures, while steeped in the Marvel Universe, are tongue-in-cheek affairs that are more meta than mainstream.
So when Activision and developer High Moon Studios announced a full-length game starring the spot-eyed “Merc with a Mouth,” it could have gone either way, good or bad. Lucky for us, it is good. Incredibly good.
Deadpool: The Game is a third-person action shooter that follows the exploits of Wade Wilson as he follows the script sent to him by High Moon on an adventure that interacts with Marvel’s Mutant Mainstays, like Wolverine, Cable and Domino, and takes him to many locales made famous by the X-Men comic book series, like the sewers of New York (home of the iconic 1987 Mutant Massacre) and Genosha. Deadpool battles classic comic book villains like Mr. Sinister and his Marauders, and at times the entire game goes loopy, resembling 8-bit era Legend of Zelda (complete with like-music) and even a cutesy, artsy level like LittleBigPlanet.
On top of that, Deadpool is certifiably insane, which helps immensely. Throughout the course of the 10 or so hours of gameplay, Deadpool converses with the two voices in his head, as well as the player, as previously mentioned in breaking the fourth wall. He blows his head clean off his shoulders rather than listen to his one-time partner, Cable, wax on and on about the mission, and he runs into danger instead of away from it, mostly to score a chimigchanga or to impress a large-chested woman, and not for any sense of right and wrong.
For these reasons, Deadpool makes for an incredibly fun game. I find myself laughing every few minutes at the chaos on-screen, and the writers really dipped into Marvel Comics library to tell their story.
As for the gameplay, there is really nothing too unique about it, especially when compared to the insanity of such an over-the-top protagonist. It’s a third-person shooter, with the ability to upgrade weapons and abilities by spending DP (Deadpool points), which are accrued by killing bad guys. Deadpool has a melee weapon (swords, sais, etc.) and a whole arsenal of firearms (pistols, shotguns, high powered assault rifles). He can also utilize his teleportation ability to BAMF away from, or into, danger. Combat attacks can be chained together for higher DP drops, but one hit by an enemy resets the chain.
The combat becomes stale early on, and even Deadpool’s in-game yammering begins to repeat all too quickly. What keeps this from sinking the entire production is in the level of absurdity that High Moon has crafted everywhere else. Make no mistake; this is a Comic Book Game, deeply rooted in Marvel Comics lore. It’s not a quickly thrown together money grab, trying to cash in on the recent Comic Book Movie craze.
I enjoyed the game as a whole, even with the repetitiveness of combat, enemies and in-game chatter. The well-written and fully rendered cut-scenes made the game well worth playing.
And speaking of, the graphics for Deadpool are of a high-level affair. It would have been easy for High Moon or Activision to skimp here, but instead, the game looks gorgeous with a fast frame rate and superb lighting effects throughout.
Also, it begs to be mentioned that Nolan North delivers a dead on version of the Merc with a Mouth. In fact, at one point in the early part of the game, Deadpool actually calls Nolan North on the telephone to ask him to voice him in the game, (because Ryan Reynolds wouldn’t answer his phone). Like I said, the whole package is very meta.
There are very few options after the campaign has been completed. There is no multiplayer mode, and other than unlocking some narrated synopsis of the comic book characters in the story, there is very little in the way of unlockables to sustain play. There is a challenge mode, but all it really does is give the player bragging rights, and unlocks Trophies/Achievements as well.
Deadpool is an incredibly fun game that will appeal to most adolescent males, some cool females, and Marvel Comics fans in general. It is well written, action-packed, and looks gorgeous, but it’s not a game for small children, and probably not for mature adults. Fart and dick jokes can only go so far.
Other than all that, it’s a nice package from High Moon Studios (who nailed the recent Cybertron-based Transformers games), and they are quickly becoming an “it” studio for Activision. They beg to have eyes on as they continue to churn out great games based off of established properties.
Deadpool was reviewed on PlayStation 3 via a code provided by Activision for this review. It is also available for Xbox 360.