BY SAMUEL GUGLIELMO
Deadpool continues to be one of Marvel’s most popular heroes for a good reason. His constant fourth wall breaking humor and his quips at the expense of the comics themselves tends to be a huge hit with fans. Translating Deadpool to video game can’t have been an easy task, but High Moon Studio has sure tried. I can praise the game’s story and direction, clearly knowing what it wants to do and setting out to do it early in, but the rest of the game has the problem of falling flat.
Deadpool wants to have his own video game and he holds High Moon Studio hostage to do so. Yes, that is the actual premise of the game and its fourth wall breaking jokes, and Deadpool doesn’t worry about constantly messing with the player’s expectations to try and give them a genuine Deadpool experience. There’s some vague plot about Mr. Sinister trying to make a super weapon to kill all humans (or mutants?) and Deadpool, Cable, Wolverine, and some other X-Men have to stop him, but it’s basically just the vehicle to make jokes. This is fine, this is what Deadpool does best and it knocks it out of the park easily. The jokes are funny, the fans will enjoy comic references, and this is probably the only time we’ll see F-list characters like Arclight and Blockbuster in a video game so enjoy it while you can.
The game plays similar to recent action games, allowing you to mix up quick and heavy attacks of various weapons, along with a good use of gunplay, to defeat enemies. I could switch it up at any time just by holding down the left trigger to aim and the right trigger to shoot. This means Deadpool has both action and third person shooting elements, but it sort of half-asses both of these. Starting with melee combat, I was able to perform both light and heavy attacks to create combos and could use three different melee weapons that fit the usual roles of “fast but weak” “slow but strong” and “balanced”. I was also able to hit B to teleport, which basically worked like a dodge roll in this game. It’s all competent, but suffers from being extremely generic and repetitive. There’s very few enemies in the game that require you to use any strategy beyond “defense breaking combo, mash heavy attack” until they’re dead.
As I mashed enemies to death I was awarded with momentum, which I could also gather by (humorously) eating tacos. Each melee weapon has three momentum attacks that have various levels of usefulness. Some of the early momentum attacks were good for stunning enemies and, well, little else. Later in the game I had a few that were basically room clearer, or that took out the game’s few unique enemies in a single attack. Visually the momentum attacks are often fun to watch, but a few look a little off. Still, watching Deadpool perform a break-dancing attack with his swords is always worth something.
As for the gunplay, Deadpool has four different guns he can use against various enemies. It works exactly as you’d expect: aim and shoot. Well… that’s it really. Whereas the melee combat is repetitive, the gunplay is just boring. There’s no real oomph to it, the guns always feel weak and underpowered. At one point in the game I encountered a flying enemy that used lighting to attack me. Defeating it was really just standing in one spot and tapping the trigger until it died, which felt like it took forever because of how weak Deadpool’s guns are. Later, once I finally amassed enough points and kills to fully upgrade a few guns, they still didn’t really feel powerful enough to be worth using. The best things the guns had going for them was that each gun also had its own momentum attack, which was basically just one more special attack to use when I needed it.
Speaking of amassing points, as I killed enemies and explored the environments I was awarded with Deadpool Points, or DP for short. You can use DP to upgrade your weapons, buy new ones, and upgrade Deadpool himself. The way you earn DP in the game feels a bit overly-easy though. Each enemy is worth a certain amount of DP, and if you successfully complete a combo then it’ll multiply whatever they’re worth by your combo. This means that, with a little skill and use of the combo-heavy daggers, I could score an almost absurd amount of DP easily. I guess in an attempt to stop me from just grabbing every upgrade, I also needed to kill a certain amount of enemies with whatever weapon I wanted to upgrade before I could do so. Yet with no way to tell how many I needed to kill this just felt like a super arbitrary limit thrown in for no good reason.
I will commend Deadpool for its efforts to try and mix up the gameplay constantly, though the success it has with this is varying. A couple turret segments are fun and don’t wear out their welcome, while a few silly segments that sees Deadpool with his head on backwards, thus reversing the controls, to be worth a laugh. The best is actually when Deadpool just gets to wander around the environment and make jokes at various items and objects in it. Sure it has no gameplay at all, but usually it’s just funny. On the other hand, a few stealth segments feel forced and awful, and I found myself rarely able to sneak up on and kill anyone. The worst has to be the platforming though. The game is clearly not made for it at all, and I found myself often over or undershooting the object I was aiming for. Weirder is that about half way through the game I got the ability to just teleport to ledges and platforms, thus negating any need for platforming. That just begs the question: why make me sit through the awful platforming segments to being with?
It took me about 6-ish hours to finish Deadpool’s singleplayer campaign, which feels about the right length for this game. There’s no multiplayer of any kind, though you can play in survival arenas after you beat the game. If you enjoyed the game’s combat then it’s a nice way to extend the life of it a little longer, but I didn’t really care for them much. As such, once I was done with Deadpool I saw no reason to really go back to it.
In a way I want to remind Deadpool of the golden rule of comedy games: just because you make fun of a bad gameplay element doesn’t make that gameplay element fun. Sure you can point out that the lack of being able to teleport in platforming is funny, but I still have to struggle with bad platforming. Deadpool himself can groan at another wave of enemies, but so am I. While I did find Deadpool to honestly be a really funny game, I don’t think it’s a game I’d want to play again.