X-Box 360 Review
Developed by High Moon Studios
Published by Activision
Price: $50 on consoles, $40 on PC
Deadpool is better than what I expected it to be. That isn’t saying much considering how low my expectations were for this title heading into it. That tends to happen when a game receives a $10 price cut before release and the publisher doesn’t seem confident enough to show the game off publicly. Fortunately for Deadpool fans, despite the ominous signs, this game isn’t awful. That doesn’t mean you won’t be left with a nagging feeling that the game should have been better by time the credits roll.
The one thing that this game does really well is capture what makes Deadpool such an interesting character. For those that don’t know, Deadpool is a Marvel Comics character. He is a mercenary that is proficient with melee weapons and guns. He has a regenerative healing factor like Wolverine. He has a device that allows him to teleport. is also completely insane and often argues with himself and breaks the fourth wall. I’m happy to say that High Moon Studio got all of those things right.
The writing is what stands out the most about Deadpool. This is one of the funniest games I have ever played. It is a satirical spoof of video games as well as comic books (specifically the X-Men). I laughed openly at nearly all the cut scenes. Deadpool is aware that he is in a video game and has a comment for everything. The humor is crass and fans of the generally family friendly Marvel movies may be shocked at some of the things that are said in this game. It is heavy on bloodshed and innuendo. The humor is low brow and juvenile but to good effect. It isn’t for everybody though and is definitely not for kids or younger gamers. The game is rated M for a reason. The closest comparison I can make for the tone and humor in this game would be an episode of South Park. If you don’t think South Park is funny then I don’t think you are going to like this game because the satire, violence and language are very similar.
The game is also well acted. Nolan North (Uncharted, Assassins Creed, Spec Ops: The Line) does a great job of bringing Deadpool to life. It’s not an easy task to have to come up a voice for Deadpool as well as two alternate voices for the chatter that goes on in the character’s brain but North pulls it off well. North delivers a memorable performance in all aspects and really shows off his versatility. The supporting cast is also well voiced. Steve Blum turns in another solid performance as Wolverine and Fred Tatasciore stole a couple scenes as Cable. This game could have been a royal mess with the wrong voice cast in place but this group is able to pull it off and make the silly script work.
If Deadpool were based on the script and the acting it would have a very high score. Those things are done as well as they could possibly be done with this property. The problem with Deadpool though is the gameplay itself.
The biggest issue I have with the gameplay is how generic it is. High Moon Studios didn’t try to do anything new with the third-person game play. Deadpool has standard light and heavy attacks with his melee weapons as well as a full complement of firearms that can be unlocked and upgraded. It plays like you would expect a clone of Devil May Cry or God of War to play. It uses a similar system with no innovation attempted.
Not only is the gameplay generic, it doesn’t flow really well either. The counter attack button is the same as the teleport button. I constantly found myself teleporting away from enemies when I simply wanted to counter an enemy and continue my combo. Combat also feels sluggish and the transition between melee combos and fire arm combos is not smooth. These things can be forgiven early in the game but become a bigger and bigger problem as the game progresses. By the end of the game the developers are demanding a degree of precision from the player that simply can’t be obtained with the controls that are provided. Where teleporting instead of countering can be an annoyance in the early going, it can get you killed by putting you in front of the wrong enemy late. If you don’t have a control scheme that isn’t up to snuff you need to hide that as best as possible (i.e. make the game easier) or risk aggravating the player and I can attest that the final hour of the game is one of the most aggravating experiences I have had this year. The last boss can be especially aggravating. (If you are stuck in this spot the best advice I can give you is to use flash bangs. When you run out of flash bangs, run away until more spawn. If you continue to do that the fight is fairly easy.)
As I mentioned, the transition between using melee weapons and guns isn’t smooth. Any type of delay you have when switching weapon types in a game like this is too long of a delay. There shouldn’t be one but in Deadpool there is. The guns are also so clunky and unsatisfying to use that I didn’t switch to them unless I absolutely had to. The guns pack very little punch and do very little damage unless fully upgraded. The auto aim function feels broken. Trying to lock onto a target felt like more of a suggestion to the game than a demand. I would have skipped using guns entirely except there are certain enemy types that require you to use guns on them. Taking into account everything I just said, those enemies are very frustrating to deal with. I was stunned at how bad those mechanics were because High Moon Studios proved with Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron that they know how to make a third-person shooter.
The enemies and environments are also generic. You will see the same five to six enemy types throughout the game. Little effort is made to change that area of the game up. The bulk of the game takes place on a ruined island. Nearly every part of the island looks the same with very little visual variety. You will see the same wrecked offices and overgrown vegetation everywhere you go. The visuals themselves are passable but Deadpool is not a graphical powerhouse. Again that is really surprising based on how good and how varied the environments in the Transformers games by High Moon Studios were.
The other thing that you should be aware of is that the game is short. Most players will be able to get through the whole package in five to six hours. There are no collectibles. The only reason to replay the game would be to purchase all of the upgrades available for the weapons that Deadpool uses. There are some challenge maps that through wave after wave of enemies at you but I found them to be not very enjoyable. I had seen enough of the same handful of enemy types long before the challenge maps.
Deadpool has a lot going for it but the shortcomings in the actual gameplay hold it back. It feels like High Moon Studios and Activision had put some more work and though into the combat system they could have had a sleeper hit on their hands. What is here is playable though. The game is unique enough and funny enough to make up for some of its problems. It’s definitely the game Duke Nukem wishes he had. I give it a 6 out of 10.