A part of me still can’t believe that a decent budget was handed over to create a fully focused Deadpool video game. Granted there was that depressing story a few weeks ago about the majority of the studio being laid off, but even initially I’m surprised this got the green light. Not that I don’t think he’s a popular character, but I didn’t think he was “star of his own video game” popular. The complete lack of advertising, as well as how difficult it was to find pure gameplay footage until pretty recently, certainly didn’t instill confidence. Alas, the game is now out and it’s....it’s something.
I’m familiar with Deadpool and I enjoy the character, but I don’t quite know if I could call myself a fan. I’ve read a few of the comics, am generally familiar with the character, but that’s about it. The idea of bringing Deadpool’s persona into a video game was intriguing, though I knew it could end up being charming, or the most grating shit imaginable. Thankfully I found it leans more toward the former, though if you aren’t at all knowledgeable about the character I could see that very easily skewing to the latter.
The story is non-existent. Deadpool threatens High Moon Studios (who is indeed the studio who made this game) into creating a game based on him and then a series of random things happens until the credits roll. There is a loose thread in there about killing Sinister, as well as the occasional task of rescuing someone, but mostly the narrative is about fourth wall breaking and insane shit happening. Once Deadpool the video game character has a conversation with Nolan North (who voices Deadpool) about voicing Deadpool in the video game, the tone is firmly established.
Having a video game character that is fully aware of being inside a video game isn’t a new concept, but Deadpool is the best execution of it I’ve seen so far. It does still get trapped in the standard video game parody tropes, where it falls victim to the very things it’s making fun of. Sure it can be funny to point out how redundant it is to fight another corridor full of bad guys, but it doesn’t mean I don’t then have to do it. However when the game goes more for sheer unpredictability versus parody, it works a whole lot better. Having a character that can change the rules at a moment’s notice keeps things interesting, and they make good use of this idea. One moment you’ll be hanging upside down from your own intestine, only to then be transported to a make believe surprise party where you can stroll around and hit on women. It’s the video game equivalent of a child hopped up on sugar. It won’t sit still for more than a minute and just zips around from place to place with reckless abandon. It could have easily been a bit too much but I found they kept themselves reigned in juuuust enough for it not to be ridiculously irritating.
Not all of the humour works as well as these random set pieces. Nearly all of the dialogue is between Deadpool and the voices in his head. At times the banter works quite well but a lot of the jokes are essentially the same. Deadpool is awesome, hey we should get laid, farts. Though I do have to commend the sheer amount of spoken dialogue there is in the game. Some sequences went on so long without any of the jokes looping, that I eventually caved and just progressed anyway. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the quips from Deadpool when he is in the midst of combat. These repeat very, VERY, often. My wife even commented on how often a few of the phrases were repeating, and she was only in the area for about 20% of the time I spent playing this game. So she didn’t even get to hear the worst of it. It’s certainly not game breaking, but a steady annoyance nonetheless.
That’s an awful lot of review time spent discussing the jokes instead of the game play. Well, that’s simple. The humour is the reason to play this game. The game play is serviceable, but that’s about the most I can say for it. It’s a standard third person brawler, with light and heavy attacks and a variety of weapons to choose from. You can also teleport around in place of dodging. The controls are a little stiff but I did grow accustomed to them and they never really caused me any major issues. The camera wasn’t as compliant. The fights often take place in small spaces and often the camera would frantically whirl around trying to keep up with the action, leaving me just hammering the buttons and hoping that good things were happening outside of my view. However, the main issue I had is that when using melee attacks, enemies would take a ridiculous amount of damage before going down. It grew monotonous quickly as it turned even minor encounters into endurance tests.
This made it tempting to spend the majority of my time using guns, but they come with their own set of issues. The biggest issue here is that the targeting doesn’t work terrifically. You can lock-on to enemies but the process is cumbersome and I never got a solid feel for it. You can mix up your combos between shooting and melee but once again, it never flowed well for me so I hardly ever bothered even attempting to do so. Shooting down enemies with headshots is definitely the most effective method, but I always felt I was landing these shots through sheer luck, not skill. The best I can really say about the combat/shooting mechanics is that they serve their purpose and aren’t awful, they just aren’t impressive in any way.
There are some platforming segments mixed in here as well but they are thankfully pretty rare. It can be difficult to assess just how far you should jump, whether a double jump is necessary, etc. If you fall, it’s back to the beginning of the platforming sequence, some of which are have some decent length to them. Thankfully the checkpoints as a whole are fairly frequent, and I can only think of a couple of times where I had to repeat a larger section of the game.
Deadpool is not going to take you very long to get through. I would say it took me about 6 hours, and I took my time to see and do as much as possible, and would sit for minutes at a time at certain points just to listen to the various dialogue. I feel it’s the perfect length for this experience. It’s humour is the definite strong point and I could see that starting to wear thin if things were to be dragged out much further.
Deadpool reminds me a lot of last year’s Lollipop Chainsaw actually. Not only because it’s releasing around the same time, but in that it’s a game whose decent mechanics are boosted by its strong sense of humour. Though I admit that Chainsaw’s gameplay would rank several notches above Deadpool. Fans should absolutely check it out as they should at least experience the presentation. Just be prepared to slot through some mediocre gameplay in order to see all that.