Don’t forget your syrup! We’re making pancakes!
It’s never easy turning a licensed product into a videogame, but it can be especially hard when it comes to comic books. Developers typically have a wealth of history from which to draw, but that also leads to fanatical fanbases who love to criticize the slightest bit of “creative interpretation.” Or, on the flipside, you’ll see projects commissioned to be made with half the budget and half the time—and then publishers wonder why we, the game-loving public, trash the end result.
But every now and again, the stars align. With time, money, knowledge, respect for the product, and understanding from the fanbase, you’ll have an experience worth playing. The guys at High Moon Studios are familiar with this; they’ve done it twice now with a pair of original Transformers videogames. But can they possibly handle the biggest challenge they’ve faced so far in the form of Deadpool?
Based on the Marvel character best known for breaking the fourth wall and spoofing a flurry of other comic-book characters, Deadpool is a love letter, plain and simple, to the fans who’ve supported him since the Rob Liefeld/Fabien Nicieza days in the early ’90s. Luckily for us, though (no offense to those guys—well, maybe Liefeld a little), High Moon asked Daniel Way to write the script instead. Fitting, since Way’s run with the character is probably why Deadpool’s now at the height of his popularity.
And the game unfolds exactly how Deadpool fans might expect: Everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth decides he wants to be in his own videogame. Yep, fourth wall already smashed to smithereens. So he calls up the guys at High Moon, threatens them (a lot!), and gets the green light. We then begin stage one, where Deadpool must hunt down a big-time executive type in order to rake in a big bounty. Unfortunately for Deadpool, this particular fat cat is doing business with the Marauders and Mister Sinister, and he’s under their protection. Deadpool can’t be having that—no, sir!
Thus begins one of the wildest gaming rides I’ve had in quite some time. Sure, Way’s comics made me laugh for a couple of minutes each month, but this game had me in stitches for almost the entire eight-hour experience (give or take an hour, depending on your difficulty).
Aside from the smartly executed script, the game looks solid; it’s firmly entrenched in Marvel lore, yet it’s also got a splash of Looney Tunes when it comes to animations, character reactions, and general tomfoolery. The excellent voice work certainly adds to the atmosphere, too. Nolan North channels every ounce of Deadpool (and the voices in his head) he can muster through that red-and-black mask and when grouped with other voice veterans like Steve Blum as Wolverine and Fred Tatasciore as Cable, the acting is top notch.
But not everything about Deadpool is a perfect mile-high pile of pancakes. Deadpool loves guns. He also loves swords. In fact, any tool that can deal death is a high priority in his fractured mind. So High Moon faced an understandably difficult undertaking in finding the proper balance between guns and melee weapons. Unfortunately, the Deadpool game doesn’t quite get that balance right as the action ebbs and flows back and forth between having to use guns and then use melee weapons, instead of blending the two together more to craft a smoother combat experience. Also, while the combo system works fine and sees Deadpool transition smoothly from enemy to enemy, the broken camera and floaty platforming sequences serve as unseen foes that ultimately detract from the experience.
Still, Deadpool also features a few combat tweaks that definitely add to the experience, such as a “Momentum Meter” that fills up with continued success. The upgrade system that requires you to cash in “Deadpool Points” earned from massive combos is a decent touch, and being able to wield a variety of handheld, throwable, and projectile weapons helps keep the experience from becoming a complete button-masher. The game also offers eight challenge maps—with four levels of difficulty—that offer some replayability.
Even with a few gameplay issues, Deadpool hit just about every note I wanted. The campaign offers enough hysterical choices that I played through it several times—and I even watched as others in the office experienced it for the first time. Ah, so many fond memories.
If you’re a fan of Deadpool, you’ll certainly appreciate the experience, but if you’re really unfamiliar with the character (even though I don’t know how that’s possible at this point), you might be a bit wary of having this game be your first experience with Wade Wilson (Oh, no! I revealed his secret identity! Spoilers!).
|Developer: High Moon Studios • Publisher: Activision • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 06.25.13|
You’ll be fighting the camera sometimes as much as enemies, and the balance between guns and melee needs a bit more work, but most of the time, I was laughing too hard to care. The script is a love letter to Deadpool fans, so if you love the Merc with the Mouth, this game will hit your chimichanga-flavored sweet spot.
|The Good||Hysterical story that channels the best of Deadpoool.|
|The Bad||Balance between melee and guns needs work; camera can be a hindrance.|
|The Ugly||WHERE’S HYDRA BOB?!|
|Deadpool is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.|