Review: Deadpool

Developer: High Moon Studios - Publisher: Activision - Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC - Release Date: June 25, 2013

Concept: Give Marvel's loud-mouthed mutate his own game and hope it sells on name value alone

Graphics: Deadpool and other comic characters look good, for the most part. I can't say the same for the generic enemy models and uninspired backdrops

Sound: For better or worse, Nolan North nails Deadpool. His constant banter will either have you in stitches or Google-ing how to have your eardrums surgically removed

Playability: Shooting needs a ton of work and the rest of the action lacks the polish of the action game elite

Entertainment: It's hard to recommend this to anyone who isn't a diehard Deadpool fan

Replay Value: Low

It's always nice to see a non-mainstream superhero get a chance in the video game limelight and I don't think there's a better choice for that than Deadpool. The Merc with a Mouth has a sizable and devoted fanbase and his insanity, including his tendency to break the fourth wall, shoots him towards to the top of intriguing characters to base a game on. Unfortunately, the game was so focused on pleasing Deadpool's rabid following that it seemingly forgot to appeal to everyone else.

So here's the set-up: Deapool has contacted High Moon Studios to make a video game based on himself. Furious over the game's script, Deadpool decides to pen his own story which involves taking out one of the X-Men's greatest adversaries: Mister Sinister. Along the way a mixed bag of iconic faces such as Wolverine and Cable and, uh, not so iconic, like Arclight and Blockbuster. Outside of random craziness, there are no real significant events that occur. Deadpool just kind of trucks along and does his thing like only he can making for a weird, yet ultimately flat, story.

Being based on a comic, I was disappointed with Deapool's level variety. The Marvel universe has no shortage of interesting locales, but out of the small handful of destinations in the game, only Genosha is worth mentioning. The former mutant utopia turned dystopia feels like the only area with not only history behind it, but inspiration as well, featuring some nice decaying architecture and unique mechanics, such as working Sentinel parts. Much of the game is spent running through bland areas like sewers, a skyscraper interior, and rooftops that are completely devoid of personality.

Combat is completely by the numbers. Deadpool has a light and heavy attack that are mixed to create combos. If slicing people to ribbons is too intimate, a pair of guns allow for some long-distance killing. Dodging consist of a teleport that can also disorient enemies, rendering them vulnerable to attack. New weapons can be unlocked and upgraded, but outside of a sweet pair of laser guns, I was content with Deadpool's signature dual katanas and pistols as the alternatives weren't very exciting. Standard attacks and teleporting are decently satisfying but are nothing more than that: decent. However, combat gets too jumpy at times, with Deadpool sometimes unintentionally switching to enemies I wasn't focused on. Maybe it's supposed to fit his chaotic fighting style, but I found it to be a nuisance.

Gunplay is just as unpredictable and is downright awkward when using the over-the-shoulder perspective. Considering that a majority of encounters are fast-paced, close-quarters affairs, it's a little odd for this view to exists at all since it's made for precise, long-ranged shots. It's rough to use during hectic battles, but often required since shooting from the hip is even less reliable. It's somewhat manageable once you get used to it and you'll want to, as a barrage of clean head-shots is the quickest way through the tedious encounters.

Most of your time is spent chopping down wave after wave of the same handful of enemy types with many battles feeling ridiculously drawn out. Even the final boss fight suffers from this lame horde mode mentality. This wouldn't be so bad if the enemies were interesting or varied, but you're stuck fighting either faceless foot soldiers, mutated, gun-toting, beasts, or generic mutants. A.I. is as unsophisticated as Deadpool himself. I've seen soldiers collide with each other during fights and remain oblivious to Deadpool's presence even when he's mere couple of feet away. Whenever encounters got especially hellish (or I became bored), I would find a corner and just funnel incoming waves into my crosshairs.

Enemies require little strategy other than mindless hack n' slash and some are a chore to take down. The only difference between normal soldiers and the monsters is that the latter require a higher intake of lead. An annoying flying electric mutant keeps his distance from Deadpool and the only method of taking him down is to look up and shoot at him until he drops. It's as dull as it sounds. Things can also get infuriatingly cheap when the game decides to throw a boatload of baddies at you at once, especially when more than half of them wield machine guns that mow Deadpool down in seconds. This reduces several battles into a frustrating hit-n'-run formula with much of that time spent hiding behind cover to regenerate health.

This isn't to say that the game lacks any interesting moments whatsoever. Deadpool's insanity lends itself to some pretty wacky scenes. In one area, Deadpool engages in an Indiana Jones-style mine cart shootout that ends with him at a twisted theater with killer clowns. One deluded fantasy has Deadpool mingling at a pool party full of beautiful women (including some of the lovely ladies of X-Men) to humorous results. My favorite moments actually take place at the very beginning. The game starts in Deadpool's apartment and gives players the freedom to explore his dilapidated hovel and interact with a variety objects to trigger some pretty funny moments, including a phone conversation with Nolan North (who voices Deadpool). These crazy incidents are a breath of fresh air between the bland gameplay.

In fact, the game is most enjoyable when it's just being a Deadpool game and your enjoyment will hinge on how much you like the character going in. He's called the Merc with a Mouth for a reason. Deadpool is a loud, crude, and obnoxious motor-mouth and his talkative nature will probably have unaccustomed players scrambling for the mute button. He's got a few chuckle-worthy lines - especially his jabs at game development and the industry as a whole - but be warned: he rarely shuts up. When he does, the two voices in his head will usually take over and while it fits the character to a tee, it became a little grating even to me at times and I'm a Deadpool fan.

This is far from the worst thing to happen to Deadpool (X-Men Origins' incarnation owns that) but this game could have been so much more. High Moon definitely understands the character and if the core design was as interesting as Deadpool himself, this could have been something special. Instead, it's a wholly mediocre experience that banks on name value alone.

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