Much like Deadpool (the character), Deadpool (the game) isn’t perfect, but he doesn’t need to be. If Batman: Arkham City is to The Dark Knight, this game is the equivalent of Batman's Adam West days. It’s true to its source material: brash, crude, and good enough for a laugh. Treat it less like an emotional roller coaster and more like an overblown summer blockbuster, and you'll have a fine time.
Superheroes have gotten all doom and gloom as of late. Sure, seeing a moody Batman or Superman on the silver screen is all fine and dandy, but sometimes some lighthearted action without the melodrama is just what the doctor ordered. Enter Deadpool, an extremely sarcastic game from High Moon Studios that never takes itself too seriously. The humor is most certainly there, but can this merc with a mouth deliver?
Deadpool goes the best route a title like this could possibly go: the self-referential route. Breaking the fourth wall more times than a Metal Gear Solid game, our hero knows full well that he is in a game. This results in jabs at everything from the level design to the art assets, but they work in favor of the game. Gaming tropes and cliches also rear their ugly head, but said wall-breaking turns them from a mood-killer to a mere annoyance.
Of course, the off-the-wall nature of Deadpool’s mindset also leads to an off-the-wall story as well. Presented in the form of thought bubbles, montages, and three narrators (two played by Deadpool), the exchange of a coherent plot in favor of a more laid back approach does not always gel. Taking down the evil Sinister is always your ultimate goal, but the piecemeal plot has you fighting in a skyscraper one level and a post-apocalyptic island the next. Ironically, the fact that the seven hour campaign is a linear affair with no collectibles gives the humor the limelight it needs.
What follows is a journey through random locales, punctured with random cameos, and random humor. It’s hard-hitting, it’s vulgar, and it’s hilarious. Voiced by the very talented Nolan North, Deadpool delivers the crudest of lines with the utmost panache. Don’t expect the witty musings of Portal or the wacky pantomimes of Mario — what can be found here is worthy of the “Mature” rating on the box.
So how does the gameplay fare between cutscenes? After all, that’s the whole reason one plays a Deadpool game instead of reading a Deadpool comic book. Put simply, it gets the job done. Taking cues from Devil May Cry and Arkham Asylum, the combat consists of racking up combos with two attack buttons, a counter/teleport button, and an array of weapons. Upgrades are available, but everything ultimately boils down to hacking and slashing wave after wave of enemies. It’s boilerplate stuff, but it’s also a tried-and-true standard.
While gunplay and melee combat can be switched up mid-combo, things fare better when he gets all up close and personal. Racking up high combos might not be a complex affair, but watching the combo meter go up into the triple digits while countering and juggling baddies provides a moment of mindless zen on the same wavelength of Deadpool himself. Sometimes a bigger enemy (or two) is thrown into the mix, but the same tactics usually apply. However, when battles must be fought from afar, the craziness of the situation just loses its punch and devolves into awkward gunplay. The game was meant for fast battles, not cover-based sniping. Thankfully, these mandated sections are few and far between.
Much like Deadpool (the character), Deadpool (the game) isn’t perfect, but he doesn’t need to be. If Batman: Arkham City is to The Dark Knight, this game is the equivalent of Batman’s Adam West days. It’s true to its source material: brash, crude, and good enough for a laugh. Treat it less like an emotional roller coaster and more like an overblown summer blockbuster, and you’ll have a fine time.