Last year, the Deadpool shinanigans began on preview night of San Diego Comic-Con. A “leak” and fake website hinted that Activision’s next Marvel property was going to be Hit-Monkey. This red herring was quickly proven wrong the next day when Deadpool took Comic Con by storm, announcing himself that he would be starring in a game developed by the team behind Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron from High Moon Studios.
From there, Deadpool wrote his own press releases promoting his single player adventure that would have appearances from Wolverine and a few of the more scantily clad X-Men. And what came from Deadpool was something not many would expect, a good game.
Deadpool has a lot to overcome as a game. First, it has to take on the stigma of being a licensed title which is something that can still sadly go either way right now. For every Wolverine: Origins or Batman: Arkham Asylum, there is still a X-Men Destiny or Thor: God of Thunder. Deadpool also faces a problem that games like X-Men Destiny and Thor did not have to deal with: Name Recognition.
As much as the comics community knows who Deadpool is, he isn’t known by the mainstream community at large. Right off the bat, there is an uphill battle on sales that Deadpool must deal with. But, for those who either recognize the Merc with the Mouth or have someone turn their attention towards the schizophrenic red and black clad, potty mouthed lunatic, there is a very pleasant surprise waiting for them.
What Deadpool does best is pays homage to the character and considering it is written by Daniel Way who has had one of the most prolific runs on the character in the character’s entire history. Daniel gets Deadpool and that comes across in the game. It encompasses what people have fallen in love with by breaking the fourth wall but keeping it natural. Deadpool talking to the player is used sparingly enough that it isn’t overdone. Deadpool talking to the voices in his head helps keep dialogue ongoing in the sections where DP is on his own, paying great homage to the comic.
The story and setting also do a fantastic job of fitting in with the Deadpool world in the greater Marvel universe. Using a setting like Genosha and various A and B level X-Villians, the game really feels like an arc of the comic in action. Given a recent plot point inspired from the Uncanny X-Men during the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover, even the hordes of enemies taking the fight to Deadpool make a ton of sense for the story. There is just tons of fan service between the X-heroes that Deadpool fights alongside, references to various small plot points in the character’s history and nods to various other pieces of the greater Marvel Universe.
One thing that should be noted is that Deadpool is rated M for a reason. While certainly not mature, the language is. It is almost to a small detriment to the game as Deadpool doesn’t get to drop the language in the comics that he gets away with hear so it is a small disconnect in that regard. Though the potty humor fits in to Deadpool’s repertoire, it is the amount of cursing that only happens on screen but not in the comics that pulls the player away at times.
The actual combat for Deadpool is where it can sometimes lack. The actual variety of moves necessary to complete the game is limited and diversity is only really encouraged by the Trophy (or Achievement) for players to unlock every weapon upgrade and unlike some games, these upgrades only become unlocked after a certain amount of kills have been completed with a specific weapon. Players can’t just spam a single attack and make purchases for everything else. That said, there are only three melee weapons and four guns. The sword, sais and hammers don’t really play that different from each other as well so the reason to swap between them is fairly limited. The guns do have some differentiation but only the SMG and charged laser pistol are really fulfilling to use for ranged combat.
Deadpool also falls into the trope of having players unlock abilities as they go on. In some games where players are wearing a special suit of armor or finding new weapons as they travel, this makes sense. But in Deadpool, the player can only unlock a weapon once enough experience is required and somehow Deadpool goes from n00b level damage and limited combos to a master of his weapon at hand in a matter of a few hours. As used to it as we are as gamers, it feels like a fairly lazy design philosophy.
And the Short
Deadpool is made as a game for Deadpool fans. While non-Deadpool readers would probably enjoy it given the chance, the likelihood of that happening is going to be fairly low. His role in Wolverine: Origins sucked and his own movie has been in development hell. Because of the nature of the title, advertising has been incredibly limited and it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a chicken and the egg scenario where people don’t buy it because it lacks promotion and it is lacking promotion because they don’t think a lot of people will buy it.
But for those that do, they get the interactive Deadpool comic they want on the small screen that gets the character and what makes him great. And they’ll even learn to love Nolan North as the voice actor behind Deadpool as well.
PlayStation 3 (Also available for XBox 360 and PC)
Developer: High Moon Studios