Wednesday, 8 October 2014


Post-Launch Review
Deadpool (XBox360)
Developer: High Moon Studios
Released: June 2013
Played: story complete in 6h:50min


To give you an idea what kind of tone Deadpool takes, here's what I believe is an official product description, as if spoken by the titular mercenary:
There are a few important things I need to say before you crack into my insanely sweet game. (Oof. Here we go again.) I'm a mercenary with an accelerated healing factor. I've been described as unstable, which is just plain coo-coo. (Wait, do sane people say coo-coo?) I'm gonna battle for the safety of humans and mutants. (And even mumans.) Be prepared for just about anything. (Holla!)  I made sure to capture all my good sides, so I made my game a third-person action-shooter. (Yep, you get to look at my heinie.) Keep a look out cuz some of my X-Men pals (Whoa, what pals?!) are making an appearance. (Hope you don't mind picking hair out of your tacos.) I'm really good at killing, so I made it a blast stringing together combos, and totally eviscerating my enemies. (Ev-is-cer-a-ting!) I brought my skills and a buttload of my favorite things. Katanas (check), guns (bang!) explosives (boom), duct tape (quack) and of course, yours truly - ME! (Checkmate!)

At Launch

Reactions were mixed, with review scores averaging around 63%. Critics enjoyed the humour, story, and the accuracy of the character to the comics, but many criticized the gameplay and combat as repetitive and uninteresting.

Post Launch

Due to some weird licensing issues shortly after the game's launch, Deadpool is somewhat hard to find now. It's not available through digital distribution, so if you want to pick it up your options are to find a physical copy (easier for consoles) or to illegally pirate it. I saw a relatively cheapish copy for XBox so I grabbed that.

Turns out that getting the console version was probably a good idea because of the game's format: it's a combo-based brawler better suited to a controller (though of course you can use a controller on PC, it'll just be harder to obtain the game). It reminded me more of the Arkham games than God of War because of Deadpool's teleport ability, counterattacks, and momentum powers (charged by combos), making him a very mobile fighter where a high combo provides more benefits than just points or bragging rights.

The weapon unlocks bugged me a bit because even after purchasing a weapon you still have to use it extensively to unlock the ability to purchase each upgrade. Late game I had finally maxed out the default swords and pistols and wanted to try out something else, so I bought the hammers intending to buy up a bunch of upgrades, but I couldn't buy even one without scoring some kills. And then I could get one, and needed more kills to buy a second, etc. So if you want to experiment with multiple weapons, you'd better buy and play with them early, because otherwise they'll be very weak late game.

I actually don't want to spend too much time talking about mechanics because that really isn't what's going to make or break the game, so I'll just make two more notes here. Overall the combat is fun and really helped out by the teleports and counterattacks - it kept me more engaged than God of War did, and as I mentioned above it felt more like Batman combat but with fewer gadgets. Second note is that the graphics are not particularly memorable one way or the other - good enough that I didn't notice any glaring flaws, but not exceptional enough for anything to stick out.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk about the actual deciding factor that will determine whether or not you like the game. 

That factor is Deadpool.

This version of Deadpool (he was very different when he started out) is a former-bad-guy-now-mercenary with ludicrous regeneration ability and a teleport device, as well as an awful lot of weapons. He's also very insane, constantly chatting with his two other selves in his head. He's a self-obsessed slob, horny woman chaser, and is so impulsive and inattentive that he rarely understands what's going on around him. Deadpool also knows he's a comic book character (or in this case, video game character), addressing his audience directly and commenting on the format and plot points of the story.

Deadpool decides that he wants to be in a video game, so he calls High Moon Studios and pays them to make one (read: threatens to kill the developers and their families if they don't). Throughout the game, Deadpool comments on the script, calls up the studio director when he takes issue with something, tells the player what buttons to press during the tutorial, and just generally never lets you forget that you're playing a video game in which he is the star. So I guess you could say it's the exact opposite of immersive.

Now right of the bat I'll say that I did not enjoy the toilet humour and Deadpool's lack of filter around women. These bits seemed unnecessarily juvenile and were generally unfunny, except when they were being self-aware, like when scantily clad background women discussed how they were walking tropes, or when Deadpool couldn't think of  a good dick joke after a urinal gag and complained about the wasted opportunity.

That said, I did enjoy the structure of the plot. The arguments with the developers were fun, but what really got me was how there's obviously a very important plot going on with Cable and the X-Men fighting against Mr. Sinister in the ruins of Genosha, but Deadpool isn't paying attention and doesn't care about anything but creating a fun gameplay experience, so you only get little snippets and hints of the traditional superhero story that's happening in the background as Deadpool goofs off. At one point Cable even tries to explain what's happening and Deadpool's role in it, but Deadpool gets bored and doesn't listen, so I still don't know what actually happened. I thought this was absolutely hilarious and a great fit for the character.

There was also a great bit with a bouncy castle that seems random but turns out not to be, and the best quick-time event I've ever seen.

The game ended rather suddenly, but it was done with a recurring plot device that had been set up ages ago and was also hilarious, so that worked out okay. Though it is too bad we didn't get a scene of the X-Men trying to figure out what the hell just happened.

And then, just like the game, the review ends suddenly!

Recommendation: yes / no.

Yes AND no, you ask? What does that mean, you ask? Well, basically, if you're a fan of the zany 4th-wall breaking Deadpool already, you'll love this game. It's gloriously Deadpooly. If not, though, the game does a relatively poor job of explaining just what the hell is going on - even though there are some token character bios, they're extremely light on detail and you pretty much need to know who everyone is going in or things won't make much sense. It's a reasonably solid action brawler, though oddly linear given the character we're dealing with here.
So yes, play it if you like Deadpool, and you'll have a blast. If you don't know who Deadpool is, a quarter of it will be funny, a quarter will go over your head, and the other half could go any direction between funny, confusing, and off-putting.

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