If you read the comics, or you’ve seen the movie Wolverine Origins (they really ruined the character!), then probably know who the Merc with a Mouth is. Deadpool, the famed(and crazy!) gun-for-hire who has Wolverine’s regeneration powers, is an awesome character full of fourth wall-breaking shenanigans and offbeat humor. Being as insanely popular as he is, it’s a wonder that he hasn’t had a game until now.
Developed by High Moon Studios / Published by Activision
Available on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Reviewed on the PC.
*Review copy provided by Activision
Thankfully, publisher Activision and developer High Moon Studios (of Transformers: War on Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron fame) have stepped up to the plate to bring us the simply titled Deadpool, a game that wonderfully captures the batshit insanity that Wade Wilson is known for. Bringing longtime Deadpool comic writer Daniel Way along for the ride, is the Merc with a Mouth’s first solo title as good as all the hype proclaims?
The game starts simple enough, but quickly goes into the character’s classic oddball territory. Deadpool wants to make a video game about himself, so he contacts the people of High Moon Studios and Nolan North to help him get the title off the ground. After getting a definite ‘no’ for the project, he bombs High Moon HQ, gets the deal and starts killing bad guys in order to make the game he’s always wanted. Mr. Sinister has other plans however, as he and the Maruaders step in and kidnap the main villain of Deadpool’s game for their own nefarious reasons, which is a big no-no in Wilson’s book.
I just want to get this out of the way: Deadpool is a hilarious game, and it does a great job at capturing the essence and insanity of one of Marvel’s wackiest characters. It also helps that Way had a hand in writing the script, bringing his experience with the character to the table and creating a Deadpool that is just as good as his comic book counterpart. There’s also plenty of WTF moments, cameos from various X-men heroes and villains, and of course, tampering with the fourth wall in the game, so it’s always entertaining to see what happens next.
Nolan North does an exceptional job of portraying the attention-hungry Wade Wilson, a role that he is revisiting after playing the character in Marvel’s animated film Hulk Vs. His Deadpool is snappy and energetic, and he keeps peppering the player with so many quips and one-liners that you’ll never feel bored throughout the whole experience.
That being said, the game is your standard third-person action experience with a hint of platforming thrown into the mix. Players guide Deadpool across seven stages, ranging from TV channel headquarters and sewers to crypts and the destroyed city of Genosha, killing everything on his way in order to confront Mr. Sinister.
Combat is generic and simple, but it’s fun nevertheless. Wade comes with his standard light and heavy sword strikes, a teleport/dodge button that also doubles as a counter, and a jump button. Getting rid of enemies is as easy as pie, and mashing buttons usually gets players results; that is unless players are ganged up and/or are facing heavier, bulkier enemies.
That’s where gunplay comes along. Deadpool has access to his trusty dual pistols that can pick off enemies from afar, and can also be used in hand-to-hand combat scenarios to combo into additional strikes. Aiming with the guns is pretty standard stuff, but it works well and comes in handy often. It’s also pretty cool looking, especially when Deadpool’s shooting up enemies while not looking.
The Merc with a Mouth also has access to snazzy special attacks that require ‘momentum,’ which is gained by fighting foes and taking damage. These attacks help keep enemies off of Wade’s hide while rendering him temporarily invincible. While he may be practically immortal in the comics, in the game taking too much damage means facing a game over. Thankfully, momentum generates fairly quickly, so you can rely on these fancy moves quite a bit.
In order to keep things from not getting too repetitive (trust me, they do), players can collect Deadpool coins that litter the stage or earn them by slaying scores of enemies that run into your path. With this currency, players can purchase new melee weapons, firearms and combos, upgrade their current weapons, increase health, attack and defense, and gain new special attacks. There’s plenty to buy here, so expect to go through the game a couple of times to grab everything available.
Stages also throw some platforming in the mix, providing players with brief breaks from the constant action. Deadpool has to occasionally wall jump to reach higher platforms, double jump across broken bridges and chasms, and make his way across floating pieces of debris. Platforming for the most part is easy and responsive, but it ultimately feels tacked on and a bit loose and floaty.
My overall problem with the game is its repetitive, straightforward nature. You’ll be doing the same things over and over with different backdrops, and after about five hours the game will abruptly end. I would have liked a little more variety in gameplay or length in the main campaign, but unfortunately I was left wanting more.
To top things off, there is a challenge mode that has players going into arenas based on the game’s stages and facing off against swarms of enemies in order to get top scores. It’s a bit needless and boring in my opinion, but at least it’s an effort to extend the life of Deadpool’s first starring role.
After all the crazy marketing gimmicks and hype, Deadpool is revealed to be a pretty standard third-person action romp. This game is definitively not High Moon Studios best, but it’ll keep players and fans of the source material busy for a couple of hours. If this game was about any other character it would have been average at best, but thanks to Deadpool’s silly antics and the witty writing contained within, the whole experience is at least a pleasant one.