Game characters take themselves too seriously these days, and to be honest it's refreshing to see someone take the piss once in a while.
For those who don't know Deadpool, his name is Wade Wilson. He was genetically mutated from the same experiment as Wolverine (Weapon X) and has the same healing powers. He also happens be be insane, extremely loud-mouthed and has multiple personalities. He likes to laze around on his unkempt apartment's chairs and eat pizza through a mask? Oh and he's as lethal as any other Marvel superhero you will ever encounter. Did I mention he likes weapons and swords too?
Wade Wilson is voiced by Nolan North (of previous Deadpool roles) and ex-Deadpool writer Daniel Way is on writing duty. What we get is clearly a love letter for fans. Mister Sinister will feature as lead villain in the final game as hinted by the enemies' pale skins and jewels in the middle of their foreheads.
When I was asked to do play a pre-release demo of the game featuring the said masked anti-hero at Megarom HQ I jumped at it. So what's it like?
Deadpool as a video game is about as serious as an episode of Saturday Night Live. Funny quips, ridiculous comments and plain self-mocking humour are everywhere. This includes everything from the descriptions of game difficulty to the way you're given a jumping castle to bounce around in before embarking on mass murder provided by sword, katana and gun. Yes folks, this is how serious things are. And no, I'm not joking about the jumping castle.
I get introduced to Deadpool in his apartment. It's a royal mess with shattered windows, rotting walls, torn-apart sofas and loads of little extras like days-old pizza. As I explore the apartment I see that Deadpool doesn't have broadband but instead relies on 56k internet to browse around. He truly is mad. He also takes the time to scratch his crotch idly as talks on the phone.
The premise is that he wants to make a game about himself, seeing that he is such a self-loving kind of guy. Only his offer gets rejected by High Moon Studios. He pulls out a detonator and a massive explosion sounds off from far away. Suddenly he gets a voicemail from High Moon that all is well and that they'll get their best writers to work on something. Time passes and Deadpool receives a script with his many voices giving feedback. One is sensible, the other timid and intelligent. In the end he decides to waste all their money and make his own plot. After all - who would know better how to write - I mean shoot up - a Deadpool story than the man himself? Anyway - he knows he's in his own game and isn't afraid to tell you off.
That's enough he decides and opts to just go on and shoot things. He's not very patient after all.
So here I am in a sewer after a short loading time. The mission is to take down a certain media moghul called Chance White. This will probably get revealed later. Deadpool admits to himself that he doesn't know what the hell to do in the beginning, and with the aid of his very educated voice gets some training on what to do. Sooner or later some goons appear and the tutorials begin.
The X button is for a faster, less damaging attack and Y is for a slower and strong attack. The slower attack needs to charge up and leaves Deadpool vulnerable to attack. The faster attack can be combined and repeated to perform basic combos. The more combinations you perform, the more Deadpool points (the game's version of experience points) you earn. Guns and other weapons can be purchased with the points as well. Also, with every build-up of attacks a momentum bar fills up and a special attack is available. Pressing Left bumper and B in the midst of enemies, kills anyone surrounding Deadpool, as long as the button combination is held. With these you upgrade Deadpool's skills and weapons with possibly more ammunition, damage or overall improvements. One interesting little upgrade is the ability to make your opponent bleed after a sword slice.
The whole experience feels very much like God of War, only much more humorous. Combos and quicktime events integrate into the insanity of battle. A quick press of B contextually executes said enemies in the right moment. Normally, pressing B in teleports Deadpool either left or right depending on direction of movements. Want to teleport behind someone and startle them? Just point the left analog stick forward and press B. Want to teleport sideways? Move the analog left with the B button again. Things feel very intuitive here.
After this I learn about guns. The right trigger brings them out and the left trigger allows you to aim and fire precisely. Guns are a good backup at a distance. I shoot some goons down and I'm you're faced with hand-to-hand combat. It's time to improvise. What do I do? I press the B button to make Deadpool teleport around, fast attack, then slow attack when enemies have been weakened. Blood sprays everywhere as a platoon of targeting dummies (soldiers not attacking) fall hard. At some point the jumping castle isn't so exciting, so we start the main level.
As it turns out Deadpool can double jump and launch himself over longer distances when A is tapped twice. We also learn that he can climb walls contextually, simply double tap A and he bounces up into high spaces with repeated space. What happens when he falls? Simply teleport back. There's a limit to the times I'm allowed to teleport, give a few seconds after mashing the B and Deadpool can vanish and reappear at a whim again.
There is no serious stealth in this game. Occasionally I encounter a lone guard and sneak behind him. A visual yellow prompt appears telling me to press Y when close enough. Sure enough I press it. Now we're all used to an efficient takedown and your enemy is dead right? Deadpool turns around and cocks a masked eyebrow toward me and smiles. He then proceeds to teleport in front of the guard and stabs him repeatedly. "Sharp isn't it!" he exclaims.
Eventually I encounter more enemies and more goons. Each one is dispatched by sword strike combinations, bear traps, guns and grenades. More guards approach and each one goes down with guns, sword and katanas. White, the man Deadpool is after here shouts into the speakers, telling me his fortress is impenetrable. Naturally our anti-hero fires off some one liners and kicks some more ass. It's all par for the course.
Now I'm on the roof and a helicopter is stalking me after Deadpool considers hijacking it but does not reach it in time. Some random teleporting, shooting and slicing and I'm clear of any enemies in the area. Deadpool comments that he can't take down the helicopter with his current guns but he can scare them. This is where teleporting and use of cover comes in handy. Quickly shimmying around the rooftops gets me underneath the helipad where some platforming carves a path above. Deadpool launches himself into the helicopter and kicks the soldier out. After threatening the pilot, he complies and Wilson takes control of the mounted machine gun. i proceed to mow down more of Chance White's hoard with the mounted gattling gun.
A rocket strikes the helicopter and Deadpool casually comments that he can fly the chopper better and jumps out of the side-doors only to realise he can't fly. Thankfully he's skilled and catches grip of a window on his way out despite arguments from his other voices.
As the level progresses Deadpool is locked out of the lifts as more mass murders happen, and he's told to go into Maintenance to find a switch to reset the power. The power is reset and lifts are operational. Deadpool dances and sings to the lift music as it traverses upward. After some abuse from our target over loudspeakers after exiting the lifts he lets out the big guns. This is in the form of a giant-shouldered and pale-skinned mutant armed with a rocket launcher. Deadpool hurls abuse at me for not teleporting and dodging the rockets. He's a tough bugger alright. If I'm going to take the White down his doors will need to blasted open.
After some dodging, grenade lobbing and aiming for the mini boss's head he goes down hard and suddenly I have a solution to blasting open the doors to reach Chance White: The rocket launcher. I pick up The Solution and take down some grunts as they try to take me down and they explode into a bloody mess. After dealing with them another Big Boy blasts his way out of some reinforced metal doors. There's more running and gunning and the second big man is dead too.
Deadpool has his hands on his target, and I'm told by both of Deadpool's voices that he needs to stay alive. He asks how alive Chance White and The Fat Man are flying down midair squarely into a jumping castle.
I'm sure the burning question being asked here is whether this game is any good. Yes it is, Deadpool is fun and employs similar movements and actions to God of War. The difference however is how much more fun this game is in comparison. Combining crazy action with Deadpool's comments was the best thing to happen to this game. Slick writing assists the process along as well. The contextual nature of the platforming and level design is a slight bugbear because on the levels that I was allowed to play I felt locked into linear paths too often. There were small bugs but there wasn't really anything worth complaining about otherwise. I'm sure these will be ironed out prior to release.