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Deadpool

Score: 88%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: High Moon Studios
Developer: Activision
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Third Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Deadpool is a game based on the Marvel character that has seen a sharp rise in popularity over the past few years, and while most people that have a slight familiarity with the "Merc with a Mouth" mostly know him as "that character that breaks the fourth wall," his game doesn't just show off that odd bit of his character, but also the rest of his rather unique personality.

While Deadpool's graphics aren't going to blow you away, it never feels lacking. The game doesn't try to go for ultra-realistic visuals or even attempt to put you into the comic book world with fancy shaders or overlays. That being said, Deadpool still looks good with tons of details in the levels and the character models. While each type of enemy grunt looks like another of its class, the named characters definitely look the part.

Of course, Deadpool himself is the star of the game and his model is filled with detail so whether you are slashing your swords, swinging your hammers or shooting a small arsenal of weapons, the red and black suit looks good. As a bit of polish to his particular model, as Deadpool takes damage, his suit will get torn up to reveal his scarred flesh. Granted, somehow his healing factor also heals his suit, but this is not just a game featuring Deadpool, but one that he helped develop so he isn't going to stay ugly looking for very long.

As for the other Marvel characters, guest appearances include everyone from X-Men like Psylocke, Domino and Wolverine to little heard of villains like Blockbuster, Vertigo and Arclight. Even in these fairly minor roles, the characters look the part. More screen-time is given to characters like Cable, Rogue, Mr. Sinister and Deadpool's love interest, Death, so you can expect even more care to sell the looks of these characters.

As for the game's audio aspects, Deadpool and his two additional voices are played by Nolan North and quite frankly, he sells it well. While it might have been nice to hear Ryan Reynolds reprise his role from the film, I'm not actually sure he could pull off the effect. I can't really recall him playing a truly insane character before; but I guess we will find out when the Deadpool film comes out.

The game's music is loud and powerful when the action is high, but does a good job of quieting down and getting out of the way when the dust settles and you simply have to get Deadpool to the next killing field.


Gameplay:

Deadpool is a solid and balanced mix of hack-n-slash melee combat with arcade style gun-play. Don't expect Call of Duty style FPS shooters here. Deadpool is good with his guns and he doesn't really need your help making sure he hits his targets. If you get it close, then you can easily lock onto your target and pepper him in bullets. As a result, Deadpool's combo system does a solid job of letting you switch between melee attacks and close-ranged gun-play, and rewards you well if you have a lot of variety in your killing sprees.

So how exactly do you make a game around such an insane character known primarily for talking to the reader (or in this case, player). Well, you get him involved in making the game obviously. This is the approach that High Moon Studios took. According to the game, Deadpool approached the game developer with an idea for a game, and after some aggressive negotiations, the dev company agreed.

Of course, Deadpool decided not to read the script, and this is painfully obvious since there are several times the "plot" tries to make itself apparent, only to be stopped or ignored by the titular character. As a result, when Cable arrives from the future telling Deadpool that he is needed in order to stop one of Mr. Sinister's plots, Deadpool ignores him and simply agrees to go after the evil character. As you go through the game, the two voices accompanying Deadpool's primary personality often argue over why they are doing what they are doing, but in the end, they simply accept the fact that this is where High Moon wants them to go and they will kill any of the enemies that happen to get in their way.

So, you don't really know why, but for some reason, a major portion of the game takes place on the desolate island of Genosha as you face wave after wave of Mr. Sinister's cloned mutants that are modeled after many X-Men like Gambit and Colossus. Your adventure takes you all over the former mutant colony including the darkest prisons, underground caverns, city rooftops and even Magneto's former citadel.

The other way you capture Deadpool's particular brand of crazy is putting the player in his head and showing the world in his crazy way. There are plenty of times when the game presents the player with items and scenes that are obviously just in the main character's head. In fact, there are even a few times when the narration breaks out of his perspective and shows just what was really going on. As a result, what could have been a seemingly harmless carnival shooting gallery turns out to be a bloody massacre.

As for Deadpool's interactions with the player, they are frequent and typically funny. Sure, there are the one-liner jabs where he insults you for not doing a good job, and that can get a little repetitive at times, but the more scripted events really help to sell the overall Deadpool feel of the game. What results from Deadpool talking to the player and occasionally calling up High Moon Studios to rant about some budget issues is a game that rivals EA's The Simpsons Game for the most self-referential game. In both cases, the game's story is about making the game, but Deadpool seems a bit more in-your-face about the subject, where The Simpsons Game used it as an amusing frame to insert some unusual levels that poked fun at videogames in general.

Besides the game's main story, it also offers a Challenge Mode. Here, you are dumped into arenas from each of the levels and are tasked with taking down a certain number of waves of enemies in an allotted time. While fun, I found that this was mostly something to do when I got into a particularly tough point in the game and just needed a break. I found myself usually able to go back to Campaign Mode after spending some time in Challenge and being able to finally get past whatever part of the game I had previously found myself stuck at. Outside of that though, the Challenge Mode doesn't really offer a whole lot of purpose.


Difficulty:

Deadpool starts off at a good pace. I wouldn't call the early levels slow, but compared to the latter part of the game, it is a cake walk. The progression is slow, but it does build up, which is good because it gives you plenty of time to upgrade your guns and character so that you are a more powerful killing machine. Unfortunately, when Deadpool does kick things up, it is unrelenting as it sends wave after wave of enemies at you. The save points are frequent enough so you don't really feel like you've lost a lot of progress, but you will have to clear the bad guys out of the area before the game creates a save point, so long battles might have to be repeated quite a few times before you get to the next checkpoint. The good news is that any upgrades you buy or points you earn stick with you, so you will keep getting better, but more on the upgrade and reward system in the next section.

Game Mechanics:

Deadpool spits out DP Points based on how awesome your killing spree is. Those points are spent in the upgrade screen where you can buy weapons and upgrades. The weapons include three melee items, as well as four types of guns and four types of projectiles. You start off with just your swords, twin-pistols and flash grenades, but with the proper use of those weapons, you will soon be earning money to buy sais, mallets, shotguns, machine guns, a pulse rifle, grenades, bear traps and land mines.

The more you use each weapon, the more you can upgrade them, so frequent use of the shotgun unlocks the ability to buy new features like more bullets, more damage, or even more rewards for killing with the gun. Each weapon has their own unique set up upgrades, but there are some common items like new finishing moves once you build up the the Momentum meter.

You can also apply your DP Points to Deadpool himself. These upgrades do everything from adding health or resilience, to increasing the number of times Deadpool can teleport before having to recharge, or even gaining more Momentum with each attack.

I'm a major Deadpool fan, and as a result, I really appreciate the effort that went into this game. The developers really nailed the character, but if you don't know what to expect from a Deadpool-centric story, then you this is like being thrown into the deep end. The game doesn't ease you into who he is or what he likes - you get to know that right off the bat, even before the action actually starts. That being said, it is still a fun hack-n-slash/shooter that someone looking for a new game in that genre should enjoy - just be warned, Deadpool is a crass and dirty character and just be glad that there are censor bars in a couple of scenes.

I don't usually consider this when reviewing a game, but I have to say that Deadpool would have gotten a higher score had it been released at a different time, maybe even a different year. Being released so close to games like The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite (games that are fairly universally praised and loved) means that it doesn't get the "must have" label that I would otherwise want to apply to this title. Simply put, if you are trying to decide where your money should go and you are looking at these three games on a shelf, only the most die-hard Deadpool fans should choose this title over the other two.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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