Deadpool, the “Merc with a Mouth”, just put out his own video game with the help of High Moon Studios (Transformers: Fall of Cybertron) that perfectly captures the essence of this mentally unstable dick joke making Marvel superhero. Deadpool the game is a great introduction to the titular character and his unique brand of disturbed humor that ultimately is a parody of recent video game design tropes, and at times of itself.
Its comedic value is high if you’re into schizophrenic potty humor that resembles conversations heard in a boys middle school locker room, and boobs. Unfortunately, this game ends up becoming the type of experience that it tries to make fun of throughout its 8-hour campaign, and ends up being another button mashing affair to rid the world of generic enemy types and a few lesser known Marvel villains.
Deadpool begins with a scene that takes place in his cluttered apartment where he comes up with the idea that someone should make a video game about him. This leads to Deadpool hiring High Moon Studios to create the game for him, which ultimately becomes the meat of the game itself – playing through Deadpool’s game while actually playing a game. If it sounds crazy and possibly insane, it is, so don’t schedule an appointment with a shrink. The story ultimately ends up being overly generic and cluttered with Marvel cameos and lack luster gameplay, but it does showcase a few gems along the way.
One of the highlights of Deadpool that make it entertaining for comic book fans, and fans of sophomoric humor, is its script and dialogue. Deadpool is a character that I’m not too familiar with, so his game actually serves as an ideal introduction to his brand of insanity and skill. His personality is a cross between Homer Simpson, Beavis and Butthead, Peter Griffin, and a homicidal maniac, which is a formula that produces all sorts of “Did he just say that” type of moments. What’s best of all is that he directly interacts with you throughout all of these exchanges, which makes it feel like you’re part of the f’d up roller coaster ride that is his world and mind.
With that being said this is not a game for God fearing individuals who walk the straight and narrow. The humor can best be described as the “Blue” variety, meaning that it’s risqué, vulgar, offensive, and at times down right lewd. In one particular scene he walks in on two bad guys relieving themselves of their water waste and proceeds to mock the size of their manhood, while also describing his own dipstick by saying, “I don’t measure by length, I measure by weight.” This is just one of many small humorous exchanges that Deadpool has with the gamer, and it’s actually one of the more tame vulgar moments of the game.
In all honesty moments like this probably wouldn’t have been so funny (there’s many more, the one above was safer to put in print without the fear of getting an NC-17 rating placed on this review) if it weren’t for Nolan North’s excellent portrayal of Deadpool. This seasoned video game voice over actor is hands down the highlight of Deadpool. His ability to channel the Merc with a Mouth’s inner nut job is what made Deadpool’s crude approach to humor and life work so well. He managed to give life to all of Deadpool’s inner voices, which at times required him to play three different characters at once. North captured the essence of Deadpool so well that it’s surprising that he didn’t actually go insane while performing the role, because the dialogue is that frenetic and unstable.
Deadpool’s highlights are centered around its script (just the dialogue because the story itself is forgettable) while its biggest failures lie in its gameplay. For all intents and purposes Deadpool is a platforming button masher in the vein of other third-person action games. Various skill trees can be upgraded using DP (XP in Deadpool’s world) to give Deadpool new attacks and powers, as well as pimping out his arsenal of melee weapons and guns to help aid in his battle.
The combat resembles the combo based brawls from the Batman: Arkham series, but it’s not nearly as refined. It’s still quite enjoyable to flow from one enemy to the next while mixing in a little Gun-Fu with Deadpool’s melee attacks, but the action never feels as tight and responsive as it does in Rocksteady’s two Batman games. It’s ultimately not a huge deal because a majority of the enemy AI units have mush for brains, and don’t offer much of a challenge until later on in the game, which is a problem in and of itself.
A majority of Deadpool’s campaign is filled with less than challenging boss fights and skirmishes until the very last mission. For some reason High Moon decided to ramp up the difficulty during the final half-hour of the game, which made for an overly frustrating finale. Basic SMG wielding clones become machines of unstoppable bullets, and presented more of a challenge than much larger enemies, and even the final boss battle. This balance just felt out of place, and it really soured the last few moments of the experience (prepare for possible controller smashing type of rage.)
The other aspect of Deadpool’s gameplay that caused a few mini-strokes in my brain is its spotty platforming sections. A mix of camera depth issues, and twitchy controls make any jumping maneuver feel like a gamble. Sections of the game where you must traverse floating platforms to reach the next goal become a test of your patience rather than a test of your gaming skills. There are a few sections that will require you to restart an entire gamut of platforming because Deadpool will keep missing the mark and have to teleport back to the beginning, which is one of the most frustrating gameplay failures of all-time.
Deadpool is a nut job, and High Moon captured this fact perfectly in their game about a game about Deadpool. The dialogue and Nolan North’s delivery of it make for an enjoyable experience wrapped around mundane gameplay. The level of dark and vulgar humor may make some people feel uncomfortable, or maybe even dumbed down, but most fans of the comic book character, and people with off-center personalities, will experience more than a few laughs.
The story itself is forgettable and nothing new, and the platforming gameplay gets a little frustrating, but overall Deadpool’s brand of moronic fun is worth experiencing if you’re a comic book geek, or a gamer who doesn’t mind tried and true gameplay mechanics that don’t do much to reinvent the third-person action platformer wheel.
*The author received a review copy of this game for the PS3 platform
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