After finding moderate success with the Transformers license, many were excited to hear that developer High Moon Studios were giving everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth his very own video game. The humor, Deadpool’s most important quality, is spot-on for the character, but while Wade Wilson frequently refers to how awesome his game is, in reality it’s somewhere in the range of decent to good. What’s important to remember about Deadpool, and all other “okay” licensed games, however, is how bad it could have been.
It's not quite as awesome as Deadpool constantly says it is.
For the uninitiated, Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson, is a Marvel Comics anti-hero who often associates with various X-Men. Thanks to the Weapon X program, Wilson was given a healing factor similar to Wolverine, allowing him to rapidly repair all injuries. Aside from this ability, Wade is a master assassin and mercenary, being highly skilled with a myriad of blades and firearms. Moreover, fans know and love Deadpool for his psychosis and tendency to break the fourth wall, which is often used to poke fun at comic book tropes.
Using Deadpool’s constant self-referencing as the basis for their story, the game opens with Wade calling High Moon and encouraging them (with C4) to make his own game. In it, Deadpool is tasked with taking out evil billionaire Chance White, but when the game’s main villain, Mr. Sinister, kills White before he can, Deadpool begins his vengeful pursuit of Sinister and his lackeys for taking his mark. Unfortunately, all this buildup is easily forgotten, most story elements are actively ignored by Deadpool (and you by proxy), and the only reason anything happens is because it’s in the script, which Deadpool always has handy.
Despite the purposeful lack of story, the trademark humor of Deadpool is the saving grace of the game, assuming you like dick and fart jokes. Voiced brilliantly by the exceptional Nolan North, Wade is constantly arguing with the two other voices in his head, throwing out quips as he slices through baddies, and teasing Wolverine, Cable, and other notable X-Men that make frequent cameos. Much of the humor also comes from Deadpool's interactions with the player, often chatting you up as you play and sometimes berating you for not doing better. For the most part the humor hits its mark, and when it does it’s great, but there are a handful of jokes that fall a bit short, causing some minor eye rolling.
Whereas the comedy is enjoyable for the most part, the gameplay plays it very safe. Deadpool offers a common action/adventure experience that boils down to clearing one arena before stumbling into another, and every so often a simple puzzle separates the two. When needing to remove enemies from existence, Deadpool has a handful of options. Swords, sais, and oversized hammers make up Wade’s melee arsenal, while pistols, machine guns, shotguns, and pulse rifles fill the role of ranged instruments. Combat also takes the safe route, feeling like reskinned battles from any other game in the genre. Weapons are unlocked using the cleverly named Deadpool Points, and from there additional points can be funneled into said weapons to unlock combos, increase damage dealt, and up rewards earned from killing baddies.
Much to their dismay, Cable and other X-Men find themselves teaming up with Deadpool.
Art seems to be a major stumbling point for Deadpool. Most environments, even the outdoor areas, are plagued with a bevy of grays and browns, and no matter where you go – whether it be an island base, an office complex, or a sewer system – everything is in ruins, making it even harder to differentiate between locales. Enemy designs are few in number too, as the foes Mr. Sinister throws at Deadpool are identified early on as clones with many similar attacks, further limiting the variety of adversaries.
Even with its flaws, Deadpool is a good game. No more, no less. It provides some funny humor and some safe but fun gameplay. There’s plenty to love if you’re a fan of Deadpool’s comic incarnations or just appreciate crude humor. It's definitely not worth the $50 price tag, but if you have a Gamefly membership or see it in a bargain bin, give it a try.
Developer: High Moon Studios
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign)
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC