Deadpool Review: Self-Indulgence to the Extreme

Deadpool of tears.

by on 15th Jul, 2013

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Whether you already know him from the comics or this is your first introduction, Deadpool doesn’t waste time telling you who is, what he does, or any other number of inane one-liners and pop culture references. In fact, once he starts he doesn’t stop. Known as the ‘Merc with a Mouth’, Deadpool was once part of the Weapon X program, the same one that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton. Unfortunately, the same process that gave Deadpool accelerated healing also gave him cancerous tumors, leaving his body scarred and disfigured with serious mental instability issues.

Just as he tends to break the imaginary fourth wall in the comics, Deadpool is fully aware he is in a video game. The entire opening sequence has him milling about his apartment, calling up High Moon Studios president Peter Della Penna along with Nolan North until a script for the Deadpool game arrives at his door. However, the script only makes things more confusing with Deadpool skipping over lines of dialogue until the first mission starts without any context or motivation. This continues throughout the rest of Deadpool. I often felt confused and unsure of why I was at a location, and what purpose I was there for other than it said so. It doesn’t have a narrative to lean back on as it wears its plot holes like an honor badge, literally pulling out the script when it runs out of things to do. This trend applies to supporting characters as well like Wolverine, Rogue, Psylocke, Domino, and Cable, sometimes only appearing as part of a bad or crude joke. Once I was deep into combat, though, things started to feel more as they should.

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Deadpool plays more like a character action game in the same vein as Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, or God of War. Deadpool doesn’t have the same level of depth or complexity those other games do, though, feeling shallow in comparison. Light attack, heavy attack, and guns make up the move list. You can mix and match for gun kata-like attacks with some counter-attacks similar to the Batman Arkham games, but most fights boil down to a heavy attack then jugging the enemy with light attacks. The camera can work against you, however, as a string of combos can force enemies into a wall or corner, leaving the camera annoyingly staring directly into Deadpool’s face rather than following the enemy.

A straight-forward unlock system, using DP points gained from defeating enemies and pulling off combos, leads to different types of  new weapons and special attacks, but these new attacks are simple two-button combinations that don’t add much to the fairly rudimentary combat system. Sometimes when filled with a room of enemies, I didn’t feel I had enough tools to dispose of them, making large groups of enemies frustrating to deal with. Running in to melee them down left me out in the open to take damage, while the shooting from afar felt awkward and out of place. It reminded me of High Moon’s last game, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, where combat focused on shooting without any way to negate incoming fire. Deadpool suffers from the same problem; with no cover mechanic, guns are a risky choice to use when being hailed with gunfire.

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At just around six hours, Deadpool isn’t a long a game, but with the amount of compacted self-bravado and samey enemy types, it’s hard for it not to feel short. There are some wave-based challenges with different difficulties that can feed points into unlocks such as pulse rifles and landmines, but these take place in the same environments seen in the campaign, making them feel repetitive before they even start.

Despite having a mask covering his mouth, Deadpool’s ‘Merc with a Mouth’ attitude is pervasive through the entire campaign. Between his three personalities, his main one and the two voices in his head, he’s constantly chatting up foes and generally being a buffoon as he attacks. The jokes and references felt exceeding indulgent as it went on, feeling more as if they were there due to obligation, rather than being appropriately timed or relevant. It’s also important to note that Deadpool’s humor sometimes borders on the immature and crude, at one point pretending to squeeze the breasts of a woman after she dies from being impaled on a pipe.

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Thankfully, when it comes to game culture the parodies and references are clever and well done. In one section, it becomes a top-down pixelated dungeon crawler like the Zelda games of the SNES era. Later on, it takes the form of a 2D side-scroller not unlike Prince of Persia. Deadpool will sometimes remind the player to follow him until he literally walks away from the player’s camera, leaving the player to control solely the camera until he finds Deadpool again. These instances felt unique and fit well into the fully aware mentality of Deadpool, making them a joy to play through.

Near the end, Deadpool congratulates the player and notes he’s letting the player take credit for all of his hard work. It’s a small throwaway line, but it shines a light on the amount of back-patting Deadpool exudes, despite not earning it. At one point, one of the voices in Deadpool’s head asks him if he’s going to make a dick joke about an event that happens, to which Deadpool replies, “it would be too easy.” This stood out to me as contrasted to the constant barrage of banter he spouts off the rest of the time, making them seem lazy. If it’s too easy to make a joke at the right opportunity, then Deadpool shows how hard it’s working to serve itself and the character Deadpool, rather than the player. 

Final Verdict

6 out of 10

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.

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