The Merc With the Mouth finally gets his own video game that was developed by High Moon Studios and published by Activision. It combines third-person shooting with hack-and-slash gameplay that is coupled with commentary from Deadpool. How does it hold up? I'm sure you saw the bloody score! How the hell do you think it holds up?! Sorry...that was rude. As you can see (especially when my left eye twitches), I'm fresh off of finishing this near six hour gorefest. I mean, borefest. I wanted to go into this game thinking that it was just going to be average at best, but no. It's much worse than that.
Here's the thing: Deadpool the video game has driven me to the brink of throwing my controller on the floor and stomping the disc with cleats so that it may never be used again. I am a Marvel fan. I have grown up with characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Daredevil. I have collected many comics and trade paperback books of many of Marvel's lineup. Deadpool is included in that. He is one of my favorite characters around, but to see him be used in the kind of caliber that this video game does...it upsets me.
To get one factor out of the way, what is the plot? Now, I use the word "plot" in the thinnest way possible. There is no plot. Here's a quick summary of what may be considered a story: Deadpool is loafing around in his apartment when he learns that High Moon has refused to make a pitched video game he sent them about himself. Naturally, Deadpool takes rejection well in the form of him blowing up a portion of their workplace. In High Moon's script for the Deadpool video game, they have him going out to assassinate a wealthy media mogul who happens to be league with classic X-Men villain Mister Sinister. Sinister prevents Deadpool from collecting on the contract and Deadpool wants payback. A few other X-Men are on the hunt for Sinister, as well, to stop him from completing an operation he has going.
Simple enough right? Nope. There is no conclusive ending. The story is being held together by plot conveniences and scotch tape. The X-Men characters are barely in the game for thirty minutes total and contribute practically nothing. If you're going into this game hoping for a cool Deadpool story, you can forget about that just like your childhood dream of having a pony. Just like not getting that pony, the story in Deadpool leaves thoughts of what could have been, but will never happen.
I know I'm sounding like Eeyore who is stuck under a rain cloud while waiting for my name to be called at the DMV; however, there is something positive about this game. The one thing that had me going during this game was Deadpool. The character is very well acted by Nolan North and very well written. Granted, the sex and fart jokes get to be a bit much. There are moments where the jokes become predictable and the punchlines don't deliver. Some jokes also do repeat as Deadpool carves his way through enemies.
So, how are the graphics? Well, as you may have read or seen in some other reviews, the graphics cease to impress. The character models look good and so do some of the environments. The problem with some environments is that there isn't any real creativity or effort put into them. There are muddy, unfinished, and dated textures everywhere. Enemies that can be blown away or tossed around can sometimes get embedded in walls or through the floor and start convulsing around like they are having a seizure. The character models are very detailed; however, I take issue with the choppy movements they display at times and the ever present lip synching issues. Combat is clear enough to see, but the problem with the core gameplay comes from the gameplay itself.
Gameplay can be summed up with two words: "repetitiveness" and "padding". For a hack-and-slash third person shooter, Deadpool doesn't really have a strong gameplay element despite having a character who is capable of so much in combat. Deadpool has access to a variety of weapons that can be earned through Deadpool points your earn in each level. You can find Deadpool points in the levels and earn them through combat. You get weapons ranging from shotguns to sledgehammers to grenades. You can even upgrade Deadpool himself for better physical abilities and get other melee combos from upgraded weapons.
A lot of Deadpool's beginning combos are enough to suffice through the entire game. I never once had to upgrade the melee weapons to add new combos. Heck, I never once used the lock-on feature they had (which should be referred to as "lack of lack-on" because it barely works). I managed to actually finish the game by keeping to the standard available combos. That being said, there isn't any real opportunity for the gamer to experiment. Many times I found that the combos were not doing the job to take down certain enemies and had to resort to a Momentum move (that or the sledgehammers which are extremely overpowered). Momentum is gained during combat and represented by a bar that when filled allows for a sweeping, powerful attack. This is most likely a go-to for many gamers in times of being overwhelmed or against boss-like battles.
I say boss-like battles because there are very repetitive tougher enemies that appear at various moments in the game. You can categorize them as mini-bosses. The problem, though, is that they are so common that they just serve to prolong the game by throwing a tough enemy your way. Even with the upgrades for Deadpool and his weapons, I never felt like Deadpool was getting stronger or faster. I felt no progression with Deadpool's stats because enemies scale higher than you and become tougher to kill. I once got frustrated trying to take on a big burly enemy, some gunrunning grunts, and a couple of X-Men clones that I literally ran through the entire level and got to my checkpoint. That is when it hit me that I didn't have to fight any enemy in a set pathway. I could just rush through an area from point A to point B and progress. It's Aliens: Colonial Marines all over again!
Unfortunately, (like I mentioned) repetitiveness and padding are a couple of Deadpool's ugliest traits. Too often did I find myself questioning the purpose of some of the things I was doing on top of mowing down wave after wave of enemies. It became a tedious mess that only led to a longer than necessary ending fight against Mister Sinister and his lackeys (which include a repeat fight against the three Marauders you faced before). It's padding and laziness at its worst. At that point, there was a huge difficulty spike in the last fourth of the game that felt forced. I had spent hundreds of thousands of Deadpool points to make him more efficient, yet the enemies being tricked out to such a high difficulty at the end is inexcusable and cheap. It's in stark contrast to the beginning of the game because it was really easy in the first few hours.
The game presents a few outlooks on video game tropes as well. The issue is that Deadpool can say, "I would never have that in my video game", yet you go through that same trope or subject anyway making Deadpool's previous statement pointless. If you mention the want to break video game tropes, then why go with it anyway? The joke is on you, not on the trope.
You have a sewer section here, a turret section there, and an arena-like area that leads to wave after wave of enemies eagerly wanting to end you. This is compounded by the difficulty that you face as playing Deadpool. I can't believe I'm writing this, but Deadpool is pathetically inept in this game. He has the talk, but none of the walk. A single enemy wielding a submachine gun can dwindle Deadpool's health drastically and possibly even kill him. Deadpool has his healing factor, but you will constantly find yourself in a hit and run tactic with enemies because Deadpool can't take more than three to five hits of damage without the screen flashing red. Deadpool's teleporter is ineffective as you can only teleport a couple feet away from enemies which makes that your form of "defense".
Deadpool can't block incoming attacks. Instead, we get to have the circle button be teleport as well as counter incoming attacks. When a red reticule appears over an enemy's head, you have the opportunity to counter their attack. The flaw in this feature is that if you are low on health and want to teleport away yet are swarmed by attacking enemies, you'll end up countering instead of getting some breathing space. Basically, you do something that you didn't want to do that can possibly get you killed.
Another issue I had when playing the game was the camera. Within the many corridors and other enclosed spaces, I found myself fighting the camera as it will zoom in on Deadpool at inopportune moments. Even when I'm trying to fix the camera angles, it keeps on adjusting itself to fixed angles or zoom in close to Deadpool.
Overall, Deadpool the video game is a waste of time and money. It's a huge disappointment and disservice to the character. It can be downright enraging at times because of how faulty some of the gameplay elements are. Not even the challenge mode (which is unoriginal and offers no reward) can be considered as replayable. It is because of its repetitive and shallow combat and design that this fails as a video game, but succeeds in giving us a few laughs with Deadpool.
If you want your daily dose of Deadpool goodness, just buy the comics. The vital difference between the Deadpool comics and the video game all lie with balancing. In the comics, you get the story and the humor and the action in a very well paced manner. That is where the game falters. Yes, there are good humorous moments, but the overabundance of sex and toilet jokes can only go so far. Especially with the repetitiveness and lack of enemy variety. It gets old really fast, but Deadpool is still fun to listen to. That is when he doesn't become overbearing since he is constantly talking.