NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 07/03/2013
Several years ago there was a game released called Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard. It was a game about a video game hero who was aware that he was a character from a game and poked fun at he medium and its conventions. Eat Lead was a game that was made or broken by its humor, and ultimately fell flat. The reason I’m bringing up this game is simply because Deadpool is the game that Eat Lead should have been. It’s a very funny game that pokes fun at interactive games and manages to make mundane genre staples memorable things you’ll bring up in conversation with your friends like you would a comedy you saw. Deadpool comes highly recommended, but the package is not without its faults.
Deadpool stars the titular character, known nowadays more for his over the top antics and fourth wall shattering self awareness. The Merc with a Mouth gets approval from Activision to star in his very own game and not happy with the script, Deadpool sets out to make his own changes. What follows is an outrageous series of events that lead to the “hero” teaming up with the X-Men and Cable, battling the Marauders and toppling Mr. Sinister’s plans for world domination….but more so he’s getting payback for him killing the man who was supposed to be his pay day. High Moon wisely tapped former Deadpool writer Daniel Way to pen the script for the game as his experience with the character makes the games jokes and situations work more so than someone with a base understanding of what makes the character so insanely popular. A huge amount of credit also has to be given to Nolan North who not only voices the main character, but the two voices in his head as well. North nails the comedic timing of the material (and I’m sure improvised some of his own) by essentially playing off of himself.
At its core, Deadpool is a serviceable character action game akin to the likes of DMC: Devil May Cry. As a mercenary, Deadpool has access to a wide source of weapons that you can unlock by collecting Deadpool points scattered throughout the environment or by creating large combos. You’ll start off with a pair of pistols and dual katanas, but can unlock sais, a hammer weapon, and firearms like a shot gun and plasma rifle. Each of the weapons can be upgraded using DP points, but must be used in combat before you can access the more powerful additions. Deadpool himself can also be upgraded with the same points, increasing your attack power, overall health or amount of times you can teleport away (the games dodge mechanic).
The combat and gunplay is well implemented and satisfying to play with through the unfortunately brief campaign, but it’s not the reason you’ll want to keep playing Deadpool. The characters ADD fits well in the context of a video game as the player will want to keep pushing through the average combat to see what lies around the next corner. At the very start of the game you’re given a brief glimpse of this when you can walk around Deadpool’s apartment just messing with things and it offers a taste of what you’re getting into. It’s difficult to talk about certain segments as it’s honestly like spoiling the joke in a movie you want to see but haven’t gotten around to, but some of the highlights are sudden changes to an 8-bit game when you get a call from the producer saying you’re over budget, as well as a turret section and I’ll leave it at that.
What drags down Deadpool is when the game throws an overabundance of fighting at you, which doesn’t happen very often but when it does it starts to lose its charm. This is mostly prevalent in the very last section of the game where you’re bombarded by wave upon wave of increasingly hard enemies. Not to say that the fighting isn’t fun, but there isn’t a hook like the Arkham games or DMC: Devil May Cry. This brings up the second problem with Deadpool in that it’s a very bare bones experience. The campaign is very fun and well worth you time and money, but when it’s over you’ve got nothing left to play but monotonous challenge maps where you fight waves of enemies in environments pulled from the main game. Some unlockables, like say comic covers or alternate costumes to uncover by exploring the levels would’ve been nice. Most of the time you’re funneled through the environments to the next fight or section with very little to see off the beaten path.
Leading up to its release Deadpool seemed to be getting a lot of negative buzz due to a lack of gameplay footage and promotion from Activision, but I’m glad to report that it’s a solid action game with lots of memorable moments and humor. It’s mechanics aren’t the most advanced and the extra content is anemic, but what makes Deadpool stand out is its excellent humor and curiosity to see what the character will put the player through next. When playing this game, I was posed the question from someone in another room of my house “what were you laughing at so hard?” and it’s not very often I can respond with “a video game”. Comedy is something very hard to pull off in an interactive medium and High Moon Studios pulled it off in spades. I’m hoping Deadpool becomes as successful as their Transformers games, I would love to see the developer continue with the character.