- Deadpool's Humour
- Frantic combinations
- Insane pacing of combat
- The action
- Inconsistent controls
- Bland level design
- Enemy overload
- Lack of content
As far as superhero games go, we were always stuck with movie tie-ins. It's not often we get games that stay true to the comics. When I got a copy of Deadpool I was excited, especially having done a preview of the first level on an E3 demo. High expectations were set. Were they met? Well in a way yes, in many other ways no.
Who is Deadpool? He's a product of Weapon X, the same program that made Wolverine and Deathstrike in the Marvel comics universe. What differentiates him from every other hero out there? Deadpool is completely insane and aware he's in a comic. I guess it helps that Deadpool was a comedian before he was made a mutant. Sounds awesome right? He has his moments.
Things start off well when Deadpool gets a contract to capture a media mogul with a conveniently huge army ready to defend him. This is where we're introduced to our anti-hero's world, and the main villain, Mister Sinister. It's chock full of hallucinations, multiple personalities and completely acceptable craziness. What else is Deadpool's world made of? Well...guns, goons, katanas, grenades and traps. Oh and then there are containers full of blood.
Deadpool is voiced by Nolan North, and very, very enthusiastically at that. That's one aspect of this game I cannot fault. North's voice acting brings the anti-hero to life. Loudmouthed taunts and insults are flung after every kill. No other hero (or, anti-hero) ever mocks himself the way Deadpool does, and damn is his attention span short. In a nutshell, he's the runt of the litter and he knows it. Every word and every action taken is mocking, whether to his enemies, friends or Deadpool himself. The mockery extends to when we are introduced to Deadpool's apartment, a filthy, rotting mess that gets less attention than a fat man at a model's party. After seeing the manor in the X-Men movies and Tony Stark's modern home we really see the contrast between Deadpool and rest of the Marvel universe. The humour is great and the one aspect that makes the game stand out. It is really, really funny. I found myself giggling like a little schoolgirl so many times my wife started to give me funny sideways looks every time I played the game.
Deadpool is a standard brawler. Between slashing, shooting, tearing, maiming and blasting there isn't much else to the gameplay apart from some basic jumping puzzles. That said, combat is satisfying enough. Deadpool has four types of weapons: guns, melee, traps and explosives. When gun ammunition runs out there are still grenades, traps and melee to fall back on. Very often enemies will drop bullets, so it's not really a problem to be fully supplied most of the time.
Combos need to be kept up for a greater yield of "Deadpool Points" to be gained, which allow players to unlock skills, perks and weapons. Each time a high combo is pulled off a bonus is given. Sometimes, depending on the size of the combo, the bonus can be quite massive and points are accumulated quite quickly. Bonuses can be increased even more with weapon perks purchased later on. For a combo to be kept up, guns can be used for enemies coming at Deadpool from a distance. This works most of the time but later on, when enemies in excess of fifty start crowding the masked anti-hero keeping high combos tends to be difficult at best. Things get especially frustrating when you're left in a tight crowded space and forced to deal with hordes of stronger and stronger enemies close up, while still having to deal with shooters a long distance away. The lack of cover also causes problems.
Instead of using regular dodging mechanics, Deadpool uses teleportation to move around when things get hairy. The B button is used here. This works most of the time, but since the button is shared with a contextual counter attack frustrations happen. Let's say that when facing off with 10 bad guys, the B indicator pops up, so you press it, then a moment later you want to teleport behind the bad guy and backstab him, another contextual event happens and suddenly you're countering again and being hit on the other side, losing a combo in the process. There goes the 90 hit combo I was building up.
Guns are for the most part functional. The aiming system is what really frustrates. At a distance, targets are easy to hit, as soon as things get anywhere near to medium range the trouble begins. The sensitivity close-up decreases so quickly that its almost impossible to hit targets efficiently. When the weapons do hit, they hit with a grin-inducing impact. The shotgun sends bodies flying back, while the pistol makes enemies jolt and shudder as each shots makes its impact and the machine pistol has a particularly satisfying way of stopping enemies in their tracks.
Melee weapons make the combat worth while. Just watching Deadpool slash and tear away from his enemies alone is satisfying. Blood sprays everywhere and enemies are pushed back in the flurry of cutting and slicing.
However, there are many enjoyable aspects to the combat. Gun-katas are brilliant. Holding in the left trigger makes Deadpool focus on a single opponent. Doing this while slashing away at the enemy with melee weapons followed by a press of the right trigger fires a gun into the same target. It's great for finishing off battles for that last bonus of DP points. There are moments where this can't be used, for example when fighting in close combat as well as with ranged enemies firing at you.
Stealth is worthy of a mention. This isn't the stealth we're used to in Splinter Cell or Tomb Raider's quieter moments. Deadpool mockingly looks at the camera back at the player and executes enemies, wise-cracking in the process. It's a really small part of the game but gets really fun when wanting to reduce the enemy count without kicking up a fuss.
There are some great moments too, where Deadpool plays a top-down 8-bit game and experiences some twilight zones where level design loses budget and suddenly things look very 90s. One moment had him calling High Moon Studios to tell them to fix some levels being too rubbish for his liking.
Linear level design and graphics issues
Level design is a weaker point in Deadpool. The lack of cover, combined with inconsistent controls makes for some frustrating fight sequences. Many restarts were induced by silly invisible walls and overly claustrophobic areas being crowded by too many enemies. There were some fun arena-type levels where countering, shooting and slashing were thoroughly satisfying. Jumping puzzles were a particular bug bear in the game. One situation was where floating platforms needed to be timed and crossed over. Very often it was difficult to judge distance and inevitable falls would happen, sometimes forcing a restart. Other times teleports were available for recovery. These inconsistencies made me think that jumping puzzles really should've been better thought out and implemented, or just scrapped entirely. The game would've played better without them.
Locations vary enough, but I couldn't shake the feeling that there was far too much indoor arena fighting, and too many dungeons to crawl through. Things felt monotonous most of the time. Graphically, this isn't the strongest game out there. While it's not a bad looking title, the lack of graphics polish shows in the glitches and inconsistencies in the textures. Even playing the game on 1080p, textures and lighting just didn't feel on par for a game that could've shone.
Loads for the fans
Perhaps the smallest niggle, and the last thing to worry about is story. Mister Sinister is the main villain who enlisted several other mutants to serve his cause. It's up to Deadpool to stop and defeat him. That, unfortunately, is where the highlights ended It's a self-fulfilling prophecy really. In the beginning Deadpool tears out pages from the script because all he wants are boobs, girls, guns, goons and killing. I would've loved more detail and character development but the insanity made up for the lack of story.
Comic book fans get authentic introductions to each villain and hero featured, while speech bubbles show up everywhere making you really feel that the game is true to the content. Each villain and hero is modelled to look exactly like their comic book counterparts. That, at least is one thing executed well.
Things don't end that well
The more the game progressed, the more monotonous the experience got. At one stage there were nearly eighty enemies on screen dying, thus the game became more a process of trying again than progression. All that happened was that more enemies were thrown at me, with each looking more or less the same. I guess it makes sense that Mister Sinister makes clones of himself, and that they would all look like him. There is still no justification in the end however. It was a disappointment, because the game started so well and seeing the bland end was disheartening. The feeling stemmed more from the fact that Deadpool had such potential that was never fulfilled. For all the good things going for it, the game falls short.
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