Deadpool was originally created as a parody of the DC character Deathstroke but oddly enough has become even more well-known after taking on a persona of his own. Starting off with a pretty brutal past of an abusive father and a mother who died of cancer, young Wade Wilson ended up volunteering for the government’s Weapon X program after being ejected from the military for bad behaviour and being diagnosed with cancer himself. The program was an experiment to try and mimic Wolverine’s incredible healing powers, which worked seemingly too well. As Wolverine’s healing allows super-fast regeneration of cells and Wade Wilson had a bad case of cancer, not only were his good cells able to regenerate, but the cancer was also able to excel, which disfigured his body and caused irreparable neurological damage. Deadpool is constantly in horrible pain and is effectively always in a limbo state of simultaneously being alive and dead. Pretty dark, right? Well, it seems Deadpool hasn’t taken it that hard, as he’s now mostly known for being a comedic master of martial arts and weaponry (and being all too well aware of it), having multiple personalities in his head that manifest themselves as speech bubbles, and breaking the fourth wall to talk with the reader directly.
Before we get into the game, let’s get this out of the way: the new-age fun Deadpool is portrayed incredibly well, even rivalling his portrayal in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Throughout the game, he is absolutely brutal, totally unaware of his childish behaviour, although I’m afraid he does suffer from a slight case of Duke Nukem Forever syndrome. What I mean by this is that many people seem to be overly harsh towards his immature behaviour, much like how the latest Duke Nukem title also suffered. The jokes are silly – sometimes outdated – and will often deserve a face-palm, but that is simply Deadpool being Deadpool. It suffices to say that if you’re not a Deadpool fan and don’t think this game can change that, then maybe it’s not for you. Personally, I thought every thing he said was pure gold, and it was this consistent humour that mostly motivated me to keep playing, as the combat and story are actually rather shallow.
The whole experience is rather odd, as it’s actually you controlling Deadpool as he follows the script to create the Deadpool game…that you’re playing. As you make your way through the stages, Deadpool will praise High Moon Studios if he sees anything he likes, or alternatively curse them (or even phone the CEO) if something doesn’t live up to the standard he expects. The irony here is that, whilst funny, you still have to play through the parts that even the main character realises are monotonous and generic, such as the mandatory three-part fetch quest or turret section. But hey, at least they didn’t include an underwater stage. The story has absolutely no purpose and only makes sense in that you are following a script, even if the other characters you meet along the way don’t quite realise it. As a mercenary for hire, your first job is to capture a random hotshot, who you quickly lose to a bunch of D-list villains and must pursue, which eventually does lead to you joining a more serious mission to help the “X-dweebs.” As Deadpool has been written as the protagonist, the previously-reluctant X-Men now desperately need Deadpool’s help, as he is the only one who can save the world from a devastating future – as goes the script.
Looking like an everyday hack-n-slash on the surface, the game also requires a good amount of third-person shooter skills, unless you want to be turned into swiss cheese. If you jump into a battle with a bunch of melee attackers but forget to take care of the gunmen, you’re going to die. I don’t want to use the word ‘strategically,’ as it really isn’t that clever, but you must be sure to either lure melee attackers behind cover to kill them, or take out the ranged attackers first. Although, the game is incredibly easy and I had to switch to hard mode to enjoy the combat at all; even then, the fighting wasn’t harder because it took more skill to dodge or keep your combo going, but instead was harder because enemies kill you almost instantly. Unfortunately, this is how many games implement a hard mode and it’s a lazy way to do it. A higher difficulty should force the player to become more proficient with the abilities they are given to survive against a smarter AI.
Melee combat is based on stringing together the common hack-n-slash light and heavy attacks into combos. Teleporting is also a big part of fighting, as it is used, not just to evade, but also to counter. Like many games, when you are surrounded by enemies, you will be prompted to strike pre-emptively when an icon flashes above a potential attacker’s head, which in this case is your teleport. Executing the pre-emptive attack will send enemies flying back, giving you a change to finish them or jump back to your original fight – pretty basic stuff. By continuously attacking, your momentum bars start to fill up and, once full, can be used to unleash a devastating attack, or they can be saved until you really them on a boss or a more difficult enemy. Using your guns is much like any other third-person shooter: you can shoot from the hip or aim for a more accurate shot, switch which shoulder the camera is looking over, and can headshot most enemy types to kill them instantly. You can also use your guns mid-combo to keep an enemy in the air, or to simply keep your combo going as you move towards your next target. The higher your combo is without being hit, the larger the amount of DP Points you receive, which are then used for upgrades.
The upgrade system is your usual unlock-new-weapons, power-up-existing-weapons, and improve-the-main-character tree. Starting with just Deadpool’s katanas and pistols, players must earn or collect all the DP Points they can to purchase other weapons, such as hammers, bear traps or a futuristic laser gun. What I do like is that you can’t instantly upgrade a new weapon fully; instead, you must reach a certain amount of kills with the weapon before the next upgrade is unlocked for purchase. This forces you to play with all of the different weapons first before you can just max them out. Furthermore, you can’t upgrade Deadpool very much without first upgrading a lot of the weapons, giving even more incentive to try out the entire arsenal. Upgrades range from unlocking new momentum attacks, gaining momentum fast, increasing ammo capacity, and much more. Each weapon has a decent amount of varying upgrades, and it takes either a good few instances of amazing 130+ hit combos or replaying several stages in order to finally max everything out.
Depending on what weapons you have equipped, where you are or what enemy types you’re fighting, Deadpool will narrate, talk to the player directly or even make pop culture references, with my personal favourite being, “Now I have a machine gun, ho, ho, ho” from the classic Die Hard film. The constant chatter between himself and his two other personalities, young and serious Deadpool, is what makes this game worth playing. His twisted humour gets him into all sorts of bizarre scenarios, such as walking around with his head on backwards, taking a selfie with a severed head to post on ‘Twert,’ and even flying around in a Sentinel foot thanks to the help of Cable. Throughout the game, you also meet a bunch of other familiar characters, like Rogue, Wolverine and even Death – or as Deadpool knows her, girlfriend. His interaction with each character is continually humorous, and I especially enjoyed getting to see Deadpool’s hip-hop alter-ego D.Pooly, even if it was only brief.
With the goal of pleasing, Deadpool High Moon Studios did include a number of small mini-games throughout, and whilst they aren’t exactly game-changing, they are often a nice break from simply slicing up bad guys. You’ll be thrown into a top-down, Zelda-like zone; a wall-jumping, trap-ridden side-scroller; made to play a fairground turret game; and even solve a few simple puzzles presented to you by Deadpoolio, the amazing floating head. I did enjoy getting to hear what Deadpool thinks of these old-school game tributes and laughed out loud when he opened up a chest, threw a peace sign out, and winked as an RPG-style text box appeared, followed by him saying, “No wonder I stopped playing JRPGs.” There’s also a number of times where you are given the option to sneak around and stealth-kill guards but, although the stealth kill animations are amusing, there seems to be little point, as soon after you’ll be in the middle of a huge unavoidable battle anyway.
Once the main game is completed after around the seven-hour mark, there’s not much else to do besides trying to upgrade everything to the max. By playing through the game, you do unlock some challenges, but they are mostly just ‘get the best score you can from killing a bunch of people,’ which you will no doubt be bored of by that point, and the inevitable repetition of Deadpool’s constant funny-at-first one-liners is not enough to keep you playing.
I certainly enjoyed my time with the game, but there’s little replay value once you’ve seen everything the game has to offer, especially since the best part of the game isn’t actually in the gameplay itself. Unfortunately, the enemy types are fairly limited, combat is mindless, bosses are extremely generic, and the final boss battle was the most disappointing finale that I can recall from the past few years. Although, the game overall was not a letdown, as I got exactly what I expected, with a story told like some crazy paradox by a character you can’t help but enjoy. Take this one with a pinch of salt…or a few chimichangas.