Deadpool Xbox 360 Review
Publisher – Activision – Developer – High Moon Studios – Genre – Action – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 18+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3
The legend tells of a reviewer for hire, skilled enough to take on the challenge of reviewing any game after years of playing. Unfortunately all that gaming has sent him insane, which is the perfect frame of mind for Deadpool.
For those unfamiliar with the Marvel comic character, Deadpool started out as Wade Wilson, a mercenary for hire. The Weapon-X team injected him with mutant DNA (from Wolverine no less) which gifted him incredible healing powers – but which also left him physically scarred and sent him mad. With the voices in his head and his propensity for breaking the fourth wall to speak to the reader, “the merc with the mouth” is an outlandish character who has gone from villain to popular anti-hero.
The back-story has Deadpool contacting High Moon (the developers) and persuading them to make an awesome game. After messing around in his scuzzy apartment, Deadpool accepts his first assignment and goes after an evil media mogul, who is holed up in his well-defended penthouse apartment. Of course, it does not take long to discover someone sinister is behind all this – Mr. Sinister and his Marauders to be precise.
What follows is a mixture of melee combat, shooting and puzzles. Close cousins would be the likes of Devil May Cry and Oni, since they also mix guns and swords to good effect. Chaining moves to create awesome combos earns Deadpool Points, which are spent on new weapons and upgrades. Starting out with a sword and pistols, other melee weapons, guns and grenades are added to the repertoire. And bear traps, must not forget the bear traps that are great fun to throw in the path of an oncoming enemy, pinning them helpless to the spot for a short while. The ability to teleport short distances by pressing B means attacks can be dodged with expert timing. However, this has two drawbacks – there is a recharge timer on its use, and B is also used during combos to counter an attack. Gameplay consists of dispatching waves of enemies, simple switch or navigation puzzles and boss battles. The genre staple of Quick Time Events is also catered for. Breaking up the combat are on-rails shooting sections, which are a nice change of pace.
The element that makes Deadpool stand out is the insanity of the lead character, voiced by videogame veteran Nolan North in exuberant style. The adult rating is certainly justified by the smutty jokes and violence. Bizarre twists like inflating a bouncy castle or switching to an overhead view with 8-bit style graphics (because Deadpool blew the budget on the spectacular and explosive ending to the first mission) are there to disorientate and amuse the player. The voices in Deadpool’s head also chip in with sassy comments and the occasional piece of helpful advice. There are hallucinations and weird moments, not least when Deadpool’s attention drifts while an NPC is talking to him.
The campaign story weighs in at about seven strange hours of gameplay, with the option to take on a series of graded challenges set in the level maps. The real shame is that there is not more to unlock, with the other Marvel characters limited to brief cameos and amusing animated biographies (shown during the game or from the main menu). Variety is also a shortcoming, with limited enemy types repeated to fill the levels – even when the game tries to explain them away as clones, it feels cheap. The bosses and set pieces are well orchestrated. If there was one major complaint, it would be the lack of signposting or an arrow pointing towards the next objective; even in the linear level layouts it is possible to wander around wasting time. There is an incentive to come back, to try out different tactics and win the remaining Achievements. And speaking of Achievements…
Slapping Wolverine a bunch of times is fun, and earns you an Achievement. Starting the game and making Deadpool get out of his chair earns two Achievements. So is the game as a whole an achievement for High Moon and Activision? It was risky taking on a lesser-known character, and this style of combat has been done before. But there is an energy and edge to Deadpool that overcomes the negatives and sharpens its appeal to comic book fans.
And now it’s time for Review Buzzword Bingo. Get a line and win a night out with Nolan North dressed as Deadpool. Full house wins two nights out with Nolan North.*
Levels Bosses Cutscenes Maps
Violence Genre Enemy
Difficulty NPC Puzzles Menu
7 flying unicorns out of 10
*Not an actual competition, no prizes awarded, this is all a figment of your imagination.