Comic books and superheroes are continuing to invade the media, in television, film and computer games. With the recent influx of superhero movies we have seen many game and film tie-ins but there are few superhero games that have been worth writing home about. The most successful I can think of is the recent Arkham series focusing on DC Comics’ hero Batman.
Marvel studios are now putting their latest horse in the race with Deadpool, a hack and slash game developed by High Moon Studios and published by Activision. High Moon have done some solid work with licensed products in the past with the very enjoyable Transformers Cybertron series so I was keen to see what they could do with Deadpool.
For those that don’t know who Deadpool is, he is a mutant mercenary with a healing factor. Known as Wade Wilson, he was operated on as part of the Weapon X program, which made Wolverine. He originally appeared in comics continuity in 1991 as a villain but has gained popularity over recent years as becoming the hero known as the ‘Merc with a mouth’. The character is renowned for breaking the forth wall within comic books and for his over the top action and humour. When people think of the X-Men and mutants, Deadpool isn’t the first name that comes to mind, but he isn’t far behind them as a hero that comic fans will think of when thinking of the merry mutant family.
The game starts off very tongue and cheek, and from the word go, High Moon manages to hit the characterisation of Deadpool on the nose. The game starts with the titular character receiving a phone call from an exec from High Moon who wants to give him a game, but because Deadpool isn’t going to work to the script he instead makes his own game. Cue cutting off limbs, X-Men guest appearances, scantily clad women, guns and explosions.
As I said, this is a hack and slash game. You start off with swords and pistols, but as you progress you can unlock Deadpool tokens to buy new weapons or upgrade existing weapons. Whether you want to focus more on the close combat and unlock Sais and hammers, or if you want to continue the adventure with a gun in your hand and unlock the shotguns and pulse rifles, there is something for everyone. In addition to unlocking and upgrading weapons, there are character purchases you can make, such as increasing health and damage.
The level design doesn’t vary greatly although there are some nods to comic fans in visiting levels such as Magneto’s infamous second home on the island of Genosha. The controls work well enough; again, the game doesn’t push boundaries on this front but they work well enough. As you progress and upgrade weapons you also unlock further combos and there are also different combos for different weapons. Ultimately it falls down to mixing up the normal and strong attacks, and occasionally pulling on the right trigger to shoot some enemies.
The enemies you encounter throughout the game do not differ hugely and when I was thinking of a Deadpool villain it was hard to think of who his biggest antagonist was – often Deadpool is his own worst enemy. High Moon had decided to look to the X-Men villain roster to introduce Mr Sinister as the big bad guy within the game. It is early on in the game that you get to meet Sinister and the way characters are introduced is great. Hit the A button during a prompt in a cutscene and you will be taken to a short but sweet intro on everything you need to know about the characters you are interacting with. Cable is a great intro to watch as it’s all in song, and you get a very easy 20G (GamerScore) from it at the same time.
Overall, Deadpool is an enjoyable game. It offers up achievements a little bit too easily, but it is hard to complain about that. The characterisation and humour is great. The way that High Moon have worked on Deadpool breaking the forth wall whilst talking to the player with mixed humour and action is spot on. The cameos from other X-Men is an enjoyable surprise and it works well to cement Deadpool within the X-Men universe for more casual comic fans, but I wouldn’t expect to see Ryan Reynolds reprise his role in an up and coming X-Men film anytime soon.
The voice acting overall is good, although Wolverine sounds very different to the Hugh Jackman voice that has recently dominated that character. Graphically the game doesn’t push boundaries but again, I wasn’t expecting it to. Deadpool did what I wanted it to; deliver a fun romp with the title character in an enjoyable weekend playthrough. The game takes roughly eight hours to complete and there are a couple of challenge maps that mimic the main campaign stages, but there is little that really keeps you entertained past its initial ten hours of fun and frolics. This isn’t a game I can imagine will revisit the disc tray, but it was fun while it lasted.