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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Developer: High Moon Studios

Publisher: Activision

Reviewed by: Andrew Barrow

If there's one nice thing I can say about High Moon Studios' latest outing is that no matter what franchise they're tasked with tackling, these guys just have a lot of love, passion and real understanding of the source material. They did it for Transformers (twice!), and now the Merc With A Mouth finally stars in his very own video game featuring all the wacky insanity you'd expect from Deadpool. It's got guns, and gore, and babes, and tacos and it's totally wicked awesome! Right? Maybe?

Well, the story is irrelevant for the most part, it exists only to set-up Deadpool's ridiculous antics. He takes a job to grab some goon, Mr. Sinister shows up and kills his bounty, and Deadpool heads to Sinister's hideout on Genosha for a little payback. It quickly goes off the rails. We get a few cameos by some well known mutants including Wolverine, Rogue and Deadpool's old buddy Cable. Deadpool's unique fourth wall-breaking brand of humor is present throughout with veteran series writer Daniel Way penning the script. Just when I'm starting to get irritated with the inane banter of Deadpool's split personalities, the script throws a curveball at me with some genuinely funny stuff that perfectly utilizes the video game medium. It may be crude, it may be extremely stupid at times, but sometimes I couldn't help but crack a smile and laugh.

Unfortunately, these nuggets of comedy are buried beneath some rather uninspired gameplay, lackluster level design, and outdated graphics. It has “hack and slash” action game in its DNA, but they simply didn't take it far enough. You can unlock a few extra combos and abilities for your weapons of choice using DP points, which you accumulate by getting kills or by finding tokens scattered around the environment. It doesn't really matter though, most fights can be taken care of just by mashing your light and heavy attacks, utilizing the easily abusable counter ability, and occasionally using your momentum attacks (the super attacks that you build up by accumulating uninterrupted combos). You can fight with different unlockable weapons, but since your unlocked combos and abilities don't carry over to your other weapons, I really found no reason to deviate from the katanas you start the game with. It simply lacks the depth and complexity you find in current top tier action games, and it starts to feel very repetitive rather quickly.

Guns are the other half of Deadpool's weapon repertoire. Pistols, shotguns, machine guns, and pulse rifles…all of which just aren't very fun to shoot. The lock-on system feels wonky, the guns feel and sound weak, and hit detection is pretty spotty. The enemies just aren't any fun to fight either, with AI that is dumb as bricks. It feels like there's only two different enemy patterns in the whole game: run up and smack you, or stay back and shoot. Early levels feature armed soldiers that just sit in one spot waiting for you to take their heads off. Melee attackers make a beeline to you prompting a predictable counter attack. Late game enemies are damage-sponges, which are a complete chore to face. Enemy design and variety is completely forgettable, with the exception of these Gambit suicide bomb clones that rush at you shouting "mon ami!" and "mon cheri!"

Deadpool doesn't fair too well on the graphics front either. The whole game looks pretty rough and lacking in any sort of interesting visual style, with only a few character models standing out (including Deadpool himself). Environments are bland and ugly with no attempts to cover-up or hide invisible walls. The music is also entirely forgettable, which is a real shame because the guitar riff that plays in the main menu is actually pretty awesome. At the very least, Nolan North reprises his role as the titular character and does an impeccable job.

Okay, so I've dumped on this game quite a bit, but I didn't entirely hate it, it's just a total mixed bag. It's genuinely funny at times with some rather unpredictable humor, bogged down by lackluster everything else. If you're a Deadpool fanatic or you really loved Daniel Way's run on the comic, then you might get a kick out of it. For everyone else, maybe wait until it hits the bargain bin. Sorry D Pooly, better luck next time.

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