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Video Game Review: Deadpool

July 4, 2013 | By Jeff Cater | comment on this post
Deadpool
I guess they don’t have manicures on Genosha.

Deadpool is the latest Marvel video game adaptation to hit the stores, and it packs quite a punch. In this game, developed by High Moon Studios (as Deadpool himself constantly reminds you), you assume direct control over the fabled “Merc With A Mouth” on his quest to defeat the “eeeeeeeeviiiilllll” Sinister, flirt with some ladies, drop F-bombs and cause the player to look at the genre in a new way.

CONTROLS (3/5)

As expected from a platforming beat ’em up, you push Deadpool around the level using the left stick, examining your surroundings with the right. While the platforming elements are actually interesting and original, they are marred by the left stick sensitivity and what animation sequence he decides to kick into. For example, scooting toward a ledge can yield failure (though very temporary failure thanks to Deadpool’s teleportation belt!) if you push the stick a touch too hard, because he goes from walking to a full run with barely any pace in between.

Trying to be both a shooter and a beat ’em up, the controls end up only being truly effective for melee encounters. That said, the majority of the game involves senselessly maiming enemies face to face, which feels responsive and very easy to get into thanks to the countering system. A button prompt will appear above an enemy’s head, letting the player get a grip when shit really goes down. The huge array of combos in this game are easily pulled off with attacks assigned to the face buttons, but stuff becomes a little messier when trying to use ranged weaponry. Firing can be done from “the hip” or you can use the left trigger to initiate fine aim, but it never really feels too intuitive due to the slippery movement of Deadpool.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (4.5/5)

Visually, Deadpool is a mix of good and bad, but mostly good. The animation department went to great lengths to give Deadpool the personality he’s known for, and watching the Wildcard perform his many combos, seamlessly switch weapons and just rock whatever environment he’s in is absolute entertainment.

The level design is a bit uninspired as the game takes place on Genosha, a place made mostly of damn metal. So, you can expect the colour palette to be, well, metallic. Later on the atmosphere opens up a little bit and some pretty cool effects are applied to the levels, but they’re too scarce to make any lasting impression. Luckily there are enough other entertaining things happening on screen, such as the many silly effects applied to Deadpool and the other characters, that the uninspired level design and lackluster special effects don’t amount to much of a detriment.

Nolan North provides the primary voice work in Deadpool, and it seems like he had a great time recording the dialogue. Deadpool breaks the fourth wall just about the entire time, constantly ragging on the level design, making fun of soldiers’ dicks, flirting with death and talking to his other two personalities. While it’s a lot of dick and fart jokes, there’s a lot of gold as well. Deadpool is probably the only game out there that literally will have you smiling and laughing the whole damn time.

GAMEPLAY (4/5)

As far as beat ’em ups go, Deadpool is one of the elite. Not because of a great set of levels or enemy types, though, as the levels are fairly standard and the enemy types repeat very early on. It is because Deadpool is an exercise in developer humility. High Moon Studios knew it didn’t have the greatest game on Earth, and it has plenty of shortcomings in comparison to today’s so-called “Triple-A” titles, but Deadpool is a knockout for anyone that’s a fan of the character — which is the most amazing thing.

The script was written by Daniel Way, author of many Deadpool comics and graphic novels, and High Moon created an experience that drags the player through a day with Deadpool and his schizophrenic, psychotic ways. Throughout the relatively short experience (about 7-to-8 hours with several combos, three guns and two melee weapons, plus more equipment being unlockable), Deadpool is on a quest to stop Sinister from doing something that’s really terrible.

As Cable has traveled from the future to give Deadpool instruction, Deadpool often zones out and starts talking to himself and drowning out anyone talking to him. Self absorbed, dissociative identity disorder, useless trivia-filled mind ramblings will usually catch you off guard and make you laugh, even in the most intense fight scenarios.

The fighting feels great and is chock full of Deadpool’s personality, and the platforming (while a little infuriating sometimes) is original and entertaining. Deadpool will constantly rag on the development team too, and make multiple calls to the guys at High Moon demanding a patch or just to insult their budgetary restrictions on the level design.

As a matter of fact, Deadpool is very quick to point out the shortcomings in anything: the player, developers, himself, the repetitive enemies and level design, etc. Not one of the game’s shortcomings aren’t pointed out at some point during the game. So basically there’s an inside joke involving you, the writers, High Moon Studios and Deadpool himself, and it’s structured so well that everything feels intentional.

OVERALL (4/5)

It’s all a big bucket of blood, laughs, salty language and thrills. Deadpool doesn’t have the best level design, and it feels like a beat ’em up game that has had some third-person shooter elements clumsily shoehorned in. As it turns out, however, it really doesn’t matter as the effective melee combat system and dialogue make up for the lacking areas.

If you’re a Deadpool fan and are worried about High Moon messing up your character, it didn’t. It let him be himself, and it lets you vicariously live through him on a screwed up adventure of rainbows, chimichangas, entrails and boobies. And even if you haven’t heard of Deadpool or are a casual fan, the game is worth playing based on its personality alone. It’s like being on a semi-boring drive with three of your most hilarious friends.

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