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Review of Deadpool: The Game (It’s four out of five Cans of Laser)

I haven’t been overly impressed with Marvel Comics at the movies this year. I enjoyed Iron Man 3 but it was just okay. The Wolverine is good but not great. Mostly I like it because it’s not Wolverine: Origins. But there is one blockbuster that many people might be missing out on that I want to talk about. Despite the makers of Wolverine: Origins quest to destroy everything I love, Deadpool lives on your HDTV in your living room on a PS3, Xbox 360, or PC. And boy is he living to the max. As Deadpool’s own quote on the box proclaims, “This is what awesome looks like.” This is also a good moment to talk about the character Deadpool (because why not ?)  and why this game has been unfairly reviewed in my opinion.

deadpool and wolverine

“Suck it Wolverine” is an actual quote in this game.

The interesting thing about Deadpool is that he’s a character that has always served up the best and worst about what we love and hate about comic books. Deadpool takes the absurdity of violence and sex and goes further, like using Ant Man’s spray on Rhino and turning him into a key chain. At his core, Deadpool is a gun-wielding, sword slashing, regenerating mutant ninja. In other words, a Rob Liefeld character. But unlike most of the generic tough guys of the 80’s and 90’s, Deadpool has always been able to break the fourth wall in a sophomoric, but ultimately brilliant way by turning the moronic into the poignant. It’s a technique that overly saturates the movie business now. Take the films of Judd Apatow and especially something like Tropic Thunder, which is a good analogy for the character Deadpool and his game.    

I want to get my rant on the state of life as a gamer over with first. The game itself is what we used to call in the 8-bit and 16-bit  days, a brawler or beat em’ up. For many it was the bread and butter of our childhood video game experiences. Think Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, TMNT 2: The Arcade Game, and Battle Toads. Now-a-days they are called hack and slash games. I prefer brawler because that allows for every type of weapon to be brought to the fight but that’s just me. I bring this history lesson up because these types of games seem heavily marginalized in the current market, both from the business side and the journalistic side. It’s like a nagging relative that you just can’t get to go away, what with the genius cousin that is the First Person Shooter.

While I don’t want to rag on the FPS games or their adherents (I just don’t typically enjoy them) there is a certain bias that creeps up in game reviews. Here is my argument, FPS’s are making money right now. Billions of dollars. So the reviews don’t criticize the content as much because they are selling. There is a built in caveat though. It’s hard to really mess up the format of a FPS unless you make Aliens: Colonial Marines. There isn’t going to be much to rant on besides the graphics and quality of the world. It’s one of the simplest mechanics in games, you just point and shoot something. That simplicity is a possible reason for their popularity and as result, the FPS has become the go-to target for anyone looking to be critical of the video game industry. From within it I see few complaints, which makes it very strange to me when I see a game like Deadpool get blasted for it’s depravity and/or lack of sophistication.


Deadpool’s actual apartment.

So then a game like Deadpool comes out and first of all it’s called Deadpool so it must be one of those types of games. You know, the ones filled with sexism, violence, and gore. Well it is. I can’t argue that. But the genius of it is that the game is actually about Deadpool sitting on his couch in a crappy apartment scratching his nuts thinking about how awesome it would be if High Moon Studios (the real life maker of this game) made a game about Deadpool. Remember Deadpool is a mercenary so if he’s not working, he’s just sitting around on his ass like the rest of us. Also he’s mentally unstable complete with two other voices in his head besides his own. This is one of the many stabs at comic book tropes that I love to see exploited. It’s the “thought balloon” acted out in the most Faustian manner possible. The culture of video gaming receives the same treatment with in-game critiques that range from graphical quality to budgetary decisions.

Suffice to say High Moon rejects Deadpool’s script. He then decides to threaten to blow up High Moon’s office building if they don’t make the game, which they agree to do. The rest of the plot follows Deadpool around as he goes over budget blowing up Marvel places like Genosha and battling hoards of Mr. Sinister clones while fighting the D-List villains High Moon can afford for the game, much to Deadpool’s chagrin. There is much fourth wall breaking as you may surmise and it all culminates after many cameos from such X-Men alums as Wolverine and Cable in a huge brawl with Sinister’s army for the future of all mankind.

Now as for the game play itself. It utilizes a two button attack system, with a teleporting dodge mechanic. That mechanic is limited though and takes time to recharge if overused. The dodge button is also the same as the counter button. So when you are engaged in combat with a large group of enemies as is often the case, you will have the ability to chain your combos together. It’s effectively a dodge and attack in that scenario but it won’t let you retreat to distance. Some people have found this frustrating. I didn’t see any problem with it. It’s very similar to the Batman Arkham series of games, and in those games you didn’t have the myriad of attack options that Deadpool has.

Cable brings the big guns.

Cable brings the big guns.

Those options include the traditional ninja swords Deadpool is known for and  unlockable melee weapons including sais and hammers. Each plays with a different style. The blazing fast but weak sais are more combo intensive (you’ll use the dodge a lot) and the giant slow sledge hammers obliterate everything. Deadpool also has range weapons. You start off with pistols and can acquire sub-machine guns, shotguns, and Cable-style laser guns. All find uses at sometime or another. The sub-machine guns are useful for getting a higher combo, shotguns are good close range and the laser guns are great against sub-bosses who are tougher to bring down. All range weapons have the ability to be used as a standalone attack but in the “gunkata” feature of the game you can integrate the chosen weapon into a combo for a seamless fighting experience. You acquire all of the upgrades through Deadpool Points which are then used to upgrade Deadpool. Nothing new there. As Deadpool says: “it’s called progression in games.”  

Overall there are many feels to this game which I think has confused people who are not used to choice. Many have complained it’s too short and it’s too easy but it’s too hard at the same time. I think this is where people just lose their minds when reviewing games. It is about six hours on the first play through. I played it on the hardest mode available, not surprisingly called ultra-violence mode. It was not easy. You figure it out and it doesn’t punish you. Make the right upgrade choices and you can progress at a steady pace. It’s not the type of game that you spend 30 hours on a single play through. I wouldn’t want to. The emphasis of this game is to fight stylistic battles and get good at it. For example there is one trophy/achievement for attaining a 300 hit combo. I think I’ve gotten halfway to that so I’m not a master.

Platform BlocksYou can play the game numerous times different ways and it moves so fast that it never gets boring unless you don’t like destroying everything in your path.There are also numerous platforming and other old-school elements thrown in to breakup certain sections as this is Deadpool in a video game adventure critiquing game culture along the way as he always did to comic books. He even calls up High Moon at one point and tells them that they aren’t cutting it and they need to fix the game. There is some unlockable content, mostly costumes and the hardest difficulty setting, but you have to complete the separate challenges. I don’t think most reviewers even know about. Lack of extra content was another big complaint. At least it wasn’t DLC.              

Now for things that were actually annoying about Deadpool: The Game. I didn’t like how slow the menu operated for switching weapons, particularly in the heat of battle. It is a brawler after all and when you’re getting wrecked or run out of ammo you want to get what you need quick. Also there was some weird slowdown but this mostly occurred at the beginning of levels when it appeared to be loading. Deadpool would tiptoe around and it was especially problematic in the Death section of the game where you have to follow her by staying in the light she provides. But it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. I got over it and completed the trophy/achievement that was available in that part. The stealth sections, which are few were not challenging. That was the least difficult part of the game but it’s understandable for purposes of entertainment. It’s a personal preference of mine that I like stealth games. There is room for improvement in Deadpool. He is an assassin after all.  

I’d like to wrap up with a quote from writer Joe Kelly. “With Deadpool, we could do anything we wanted because everybody just expected the book to be cancelled every five seconds, so nobody was paying attention. And we could get away with it.” That type of freedom is priceless. Deadpool: The Game shouldn’t have been made. With the current partnership of Disney and Marvel Comics we are almost certain to never see anything like this again. I think there is a section of their corporate structure that was embarrassed by this game. Originally priced at $50 it is now $40. And funny enough, that is an accurate price. For the amount of content and quality it is worth that price. It’s nice to see a game come out at a reasonable price that provides a fun and engaging experience. It’s not a AAA title and that is fine. There needs to be more of this type of price scaling in games. El Shaddi: Ascension  of the Metatron, another brawler with old school influences is awesome and artistic but is also not worth full price.

Deadpool takes on the QTE trend in video games.

Deadpool takes on the QTE trend in video games.

This doesn’t make these games bad. As far as the length of both games, which is very short, I much rather prefer this format to the fake open world concept that I played in Batman Arkham City and No More Heroes. Both those games also have 5-6 hour stories. The rest of the game is walking around for 10 hours. No More Heroes actually took 30 hours. If your game is 90% side missions you have a problem. This is a personal preference of mine because I just don’t have that kind of time. I have to invest months into a game and I end up forgetting the story by the time I finish the game. I’m not going to forget Deadpool. I could replay it in a weekend and have a blast. This is just something I’d like reviewers, publishers, and gamers alike to consider. There always seems to be this big gear up for the next $100 million dollar gaming experience that will blow our minds and then we get it and we’re like that’s it. There is room for cheap consistent fun in the business model. Deadpool: The Game takes on all of this thematically and through it’s gameplay. So much so that the platinum trophy/achievement is called “okay, you can sell the game now.” We should all get down on our knees and thank the great chimichanga in the sky for this one.

Final Verdict: Deadpool is fast-paced all-out killing spree with classic game elements. It is short and to the point unlike this review and is fairly priced. You would not be shunned for waiting for this gem to go on a further sale but who would want to wait that long?

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