He’s the fourth wall breaking comic book anti-hero that most of us aren’t that familiar with outside a dodgy representation in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, yet there is a game that’s all his… Deadpool. High Moon Studios and Activision put his unique brand of storytelling on our games machines back in the middle of 2013, right at the point some of us were focussing on upgrading to next generations of hardware. In case you missed that original release, and with a movie coming out soon, Activision have re-packaged the game on PS4 and Xbox One to capitalise on one of the lesser known Marvel properties, so it’s time to figure out whether you’ve got the attitude and skills to step into the red and black suit.
Deadpool is a merc with incredible regenerative powers that were given to him through the Weapon X programme… possibly. His origins are actually a bit unclear, but the most recent feeling is he was treated with an experimental cancer drug that gave him his abilities whilst leaving him mentally unstable and hideously deformed. One consequence of his condition is that Deadpool is fully aware that he’s a comic book character, and that’s where the game starts, and in fairness, what the devs hang their hat on here. The game is a 3rd person action adventure with a focus on slicing, dicing and shooting multitudes of enemies as you make progress. Without a sideways glance at videogame production and taking a pop at budgets and scripts, this could very easily have been one of the most generic titles I’ve played in a long time.
Not being the most offay with the Marvel comic universe, most of the characters and locations used are a total mystery, though you’ve got a hell of a tour guide in Deadpool himself – brimming with knowledge and sarcastic quips about everything and anything. At the basic level you’re aiming to rid the world of clones of Mr. Sinister (yeah, who knew that was even a bad guy?!), and at the more advanced level you’re ridding the world of clones of Mr. Sinister with the odd bit of guidance from some other superheroes. See, nothing complex at all here. Starting out with the script for the game, Deadpool figures out that his first target is an assassination contract and heads out to get paid. Things don’t go as planned and it just gets weirder and more violent from there on in.
The real focus of the game is your ability to cut enemies to pieces in the most stylish ways possible, building and maintaining a combo meter so that you can maximise your score of Deadpool Points. Points mean prizes in any game and it’s no different here; the more points you have the more things you can buy, and the more you use your new weapons, higher levels of unlocks become available. It’s simple and rewarding and encourages you to play in the style of the titular character: taking everyone and everything head on with a smile on your face. Hold back and you’ll never run out of health, but you’ll be slow in unlocking the more useful parts of the arsenal as well as combos and special attacks.
Whatever the mechanics of the game are though, there’s no avoiding the fact that this isn’t a AAA title, and whilst the action is fairly slick, the environments and level design aren’t really anything special. We’ve seen sewers, office blocks and ruined prisons before plenty of times and there’s nothing that stands out here to make it memorable. Even travelling to Genosha, a destroyed mutant city, proves just to be a short diversion for running down stone corridors and hitting things with your swords. Deadpool is aware of this though (it’s his game after all), and High Moon has some fun switching up the game types for short periods which provide a distraction from the run-and-pun seen everywhere else. It’s fortunate that the main character is strong enough to carry you through some bland environments, and Nolan North’s performance is exceptional throughout with well delivered lines that feel just right in their context rather than forced for comedy value.
It’s hard to write much more about Deadpool, mainly because that’s about it. There’s only around 8 hours maximum of story, and then a tacked on challenge map mode which re-uses some environments to have you fight waves of bad guys. The box shouts about all DLC included in the re-release, though in reality this is just two challenge environments and two costumes, and you can’t have the outfits until you’ve opened infinity mode by getting a gold medal in all the challenges. It’s a bit of a letdown in terms of content, and the main story doesn’t have a huge amount of replay value unless you’re O.C.D. about gaining all the upgrades. Deadpool has some laugh out loud moments, good cameos from some Marvel favourites, solid gameplay, and even surprises at times with its ideas, but ultimately the merc with a mouth can’t save it from a lack of depth or variety.