“Deadpool, Bang, Babes, Mayhem.” The tagline from the Deadpool launch trailer does a solid job describing what this game is. It does feature Deadpool, plenty of explosions and gratuitous female objectification, but what about the mayhem? It’s there, too – unfortunately, it’s in the game’s mechanics. Despite this, Deadpool is actually an enjoyable experience, especially when the game works within its strengths.
The visuals in Deadpool are acceptable for the most part. Some level map textures are noticeably low-res, and a few of the level designs are terribly boring. The prison, for one, looks like a test map, while others are really quite stunning, like the citadel. The best of the game’s visual design is easily in the characters. The titular character looks great, and High Moon studios even aped another of Activision’s sub-studios, Raven, with Deadpool’s real-time damage and healing effect.
Deadpool’s combat effects are an example of something that obviously received more polish than other aspects of the game’s graphic design. Deadpool slashes and shoots, teleports in and out of combat with great visual flair. Additionally, the cut scenes are really well done. They are usually a mixture of the game’s engine, manga-style motion comics, and a bit of strange live action. When all is said and done, Deadpool’s graphics are totally passable, save for the few negative aspects mentioned.
One particularly outstanding portion of the game is the dialogue, both in content and quality. Nolan North voices the main character and does a fabulous job of bringing the “Merc with the Mouth” to life on screen. North shows his expertise by voicing all three of Deadpool’s personalities with a unique tone for each. The other actors that stood out were Fred Tatasciore’s Cable and, of course, Steve Blum’s Wolverine. The character interactions are one of the game’s high points and usually quite comical.
The music of Deadpool is a mixed bag that only really hits its stride in the game’s cut-scenes. Combat music is filled out with very run-of-the-mill electric guitar solos, and the ambient music, well, it was so ambient that I don’t even remember it.
Now here is where I can say some wholeheartedly good things about Deadpool’s first self-titled outing. The combat is highly enjoyable once you level up Deadpool and his weapons a bit and figure out which mechanics actually work. The melee combat specifically is where the game comes into its own. Deadpool can teleport to counter and build massive combos by switching between his various available weapons on the fly. Mixing guns in with melee is a great design choice, especially since using ranged weapons on their own is a terrible experience.
The third-person shooting is probably the most busted feature in the game. Once you pull the fine aim button, the cameras functionality goes to hell, and the only way to fix it is by using a melee attack. The non-melee shooting seems like such a poorly implemented afterthought that it probably could have been left out completely. Attempting to use the free-shooting mode often resulted in getting Deadpool killed, and I pretty much only used it in the game’s three or four shooting gallery sequences when it was a must.
Additionally, there is a tacked-on stealth feature that is incredibly useless throughout the game. There are only a handful of times, maybe once per level, when Deadpool can attempt to quietly dispatch enemies. The mechanic is basically a glorified finishing move and only messes up the game’s pacing. The level design is pretty inconsistent, and the teleport ability is a real missed opportunity as well. Deadpool can’t even teleport through cover or walls, and it’s only there as a combat mechanic. When Deadpool sticks to what it does best – large open areas that cater to his acrobatic combos and wild teleporting counters – the game can be really entertaining.
Total game time for Deadpool hits about seven hours, maybe nine if you go for the high score in the game’s only additional mode, Challenge Mode. The story, if you can even call it that, is one of the best features of the game. It is totally fun and definitely doesn’t overstay its welcome. I wish it had been a bit longer, but only if it focused more on the games strong points, of course.
I can’t help but think the game seems a little unfinished. The narrative jumps around a lot, so you can’t really tell whether anything was outright cut from the game. I noticed something strange in the game’s upgrade system. By the end of Deadpool, I had only unlocked about 60 percent of the upgrades available, and judging from the insane jump in difficulty in the game’s final level, this seemed to be the case. Multiple new enemies show up in the final level that were never introduced the way others were, and there are multiple mechanics in the game that are only used once. Perhaps High Moon intended that the upgrade system be this way, but the approach does not seem conducive to this style of game. $50 seems like an awful lot to ask for with what you get here, and I can imagine the game won’t stay that price very long.
While definitely not breaking any new ground, Deadpool, at times, can be an amusing character action game. The story is utterly ridiculous (in a good way), and pummeling enemies all over the place is entertaining. If more time had been spent on refining the mechanics that actually work, who knows, Deadpool could have been something special. Alas, the problems are myriad in this game, and for the current asking price, I can’t really recommend it to anyone who isn’t already a diehard Deadpool fan.
- Developer: High Moon Studios
- Publisher: Activision
- Platforms: PC, 360, PS3
- Release: 6-25-2013
- Time Stamp: 6-30-2013
If you would like to see the game in action, check out the Deadpool Rundown Video.