With a dynamic, conflicted character like Deadpool, one would assume he’d make for an interesting protagonist. His dark, decidedly twisted memories combined with a penchant for nasty little quips lay the foundation for some compelling character development. And strangely enough, the superhero is indeed the most intriguing aspect of the latest effort from High Moon Studios. That’s unfortunate, though, because this remains an interactive entertainment medium and significant camera and general gameplay issues are problematic.
The visual presentation is a strange mix. There are impressive moments during particularly hectic encounters, and the art style is definitely appealing to comic aficionados. But there really isn’t a huge amount of detail or refinement and the special effects aren’t quite as in-your-face as you might expect. It’s as if the developers were more focused on delivering a consistent, even palette, as opposed to pushing the envelope a little. Basically, it’s a safe graphics display. It isn’t bad and there are a few highlights, but there isn’t anything that stands out. Still, there’s some solid environmental design and some decent locale variety.
The sound is somewhat more subjective; the voices are definitely charismatic and loaded with personality, but not everyone is gonna like Deadpool. I suppose that cheesy bravado fits his character but it still seemed a touch too generic for my tastes. And once again, the team opted for a safer approach, as the soundtrack isn’t anything remotely special and the special effects don’t exactly qualify as “special.” All in all, the technical elements of the game are largely unremarkable. There are no glaring flaws or imperfections but there aren’t any “oh sh**!” moments, either. Well, not nearly enough, anyway. Not for a game like this.
Deadpool has issues. That much is obvious. On the surface, we see only the recognizable superhero costume and nigh-on supernatural combat capabilities. But beneath that uniform is a body mangled with scars, and beneath that aforementioned bravado is a seriously afflicted mind. The dude can go full-on psychotic at times, which always gets your attention. Unfortunately, he goes too heavy on the innuendo and the tasteless jokes and eventually, you just want him to shut his yap. He certainly talks more than any other superhero I’ve ever seen, and that isn’t always a good thing.
The good news is that combat is typically fun and engaging, despite the obvious drawbacks I’m about to mention. Deadpool rips through legions of faceless baddies, leaving plenty of blood and rolling heads in his wake. He’s fast and merciless and apparently takes great pleasure in gutting hapless opponents. Again, this is a trait that’s overemphasized and it doesn’t really endear us to the protagonist; in fact, we start to dislike him. His adolescent BS is only funny for a short time and after that, we’re begging for his conflicted self to show up. And even then, you’re not really caring about his fragile mental condition. It’s too ridiculous.
But anyway, getting back to the battles: This is a game that doesn’t require much in the way of strategy or thought. Just press a lot of buttons and watch magic happen. Deadpool’s absurd speed makes his whirling blades even deadlier, and he even has a handy plasma gun that can eliminate enemies at long range. Everything is fast and furious and that’s really the adventure’s saving grace. Sometimes, you get so caught up in what’s going on that you start to have fun without even noticing. The fun factor just kinda sneaks up on you. However, when the action starts to heat up, you begin to notice the control and camera flaws.
The bottom line is that Deadpool doesn’t always respond to your every command. His only defensive technique is the Teleport, which is highly useful…when it works. There are times when he can’t use it for some inexplicable reason (you hear him say, “I can’t teleport here”) and other times where you’re convinced you hit the Circle button, but the teleport just didn’t happen. That, however, is not the biggest issue that plagues the gameplay. It’s by far and away the camera. I’d say that at least 70% of the time, I have no idea where the enemies are, because the camera sits way too close and multiple foes are all around you.
You can see those enemies coming but once you start swinging away, you’ll lose track of them almost immediately. The camera simply doesn’t keep up with the blinding speed of the action. Also, while Deadpool does have some cool weaponry, using it seems a little slow and clumsy. It’s too fast and furious from a melee standpoint and too slow and clunky from a third-person shooter standpoint, so the result is a very uneven performance. Lastly, most foes you face have zero intelligence. They can take cover but that’s about it; they become brain-dead fools when involved in hand-to-hand combat. In some ways, though, that’s fitting.
After all, we’re talking about a balls-to-the-wall action game and it’s supposed to feature a superhuman individual that destroys hundreds of bad guys with little effort. The multiple slashing weapons available encourage experimentation and unlocking new skills and strength boosts can be entertaining. The challenge feels just about right, but the only way they increase the difficulty is by tossing more brainless, faceless dopes in your direction. This gets repetitive and disappointing, because it shows a definite lack of effort on the part of the designers. Then there’s the platforming, which is definitely iffy and can lead to some frustrating deaths.
It’s just too bad that Deadpool doesn’t deliver, because it did have promise. The character can be intriguing at times, but any curiosity instilled in the gamer is quickly buried by a barrage of stupid, adolescent jokes. The combination of swordplay and gunplay could’ve been awesome, but it was hampered by a terrible camera, cramped areas, and platforming inconsistencies. The mechanics can’t match the vision of the gameplay, and that’s that. Some of the humor is genuinely amusing, the combat can be rewarding at times and what you unlock is pretty damn cool. But beyond that, don’t bother unless you’re a hardcore Deadpool fan.
The Good: Deadpool is a mildly interesting character. Combat can be fast and invigorating. Unlocks are worth getting. Usually fun, even if its mindless fun.
The Bad: Visually unimpressive. Voices can get really annoying. Serious camera issue. Faceless, brain-dead enemies make gameplay repetitive. Juvenile humor can start to grate.
The Ugly: “I see only a fraction of the enemies I kill with my blades…isn’t that weird?”
7/2/2013 Ben Dutka