Deadpool is the new superhero game by High Moon Studios, the studio that made both of those Transformers games that were actually pretty good. Their new game continues many of the things that makes High Moon what they are, both the pretty good — and the really bad.
For those out of the loop, Deadpool is something of a comedic Marvel character. An immortal murderous mercenary who loves to talk smack, his character is an anti-hero who kills (mostly villains) brutally and tells dick jokes as he does it. He’s extremely goofy and likeable, and it’s clear that most of the budget went into the writing and casting rather than the vanilla gameplay or vanilla graphics.
The game is frequently silly, profane, and self-aware in all of the right ways. The story in itself is actually about Deadpool getting his game made by High Moon Studios (with a throw away Mister Sinister plot tucked in there), but it’s more about Deadpool being given some kind of action game set piece where he can be Deadpool. Expect constant spouts of jokes where he makes reference to something juvenile, something goofy, or something about what’s happening in the video game to show how self-aware he is. He’s generally a funny character and the jokes land way more often than you would expect, and that is in no doubt mostly due to Nolan North’s absolutely superb performance as him. Many of the jokes in this game wouldn’t have garnered anything more than a half smile or a mild chuckle, but North’s voice acting is so good that he still manages to deliver them as good humor.
The only issue with this though is that the funny quips he spouts during gameplay start repeating really fast, and his shtick is so over-the-top that unless you’re a massive Deadpool fan, it’s going to get grating and uncomfortable by hour six when the game starts to come to a close. Beyond that, some of the jokes are painfully unfunny (almost every instance when he uses the word “awesome” as a punchline or references some kind of meme) and only manage to make Deadpool less likeable every time one of these lines pops its ugly head.
By itself, the gameplay is possibly more derivative than anything I’ve played in the last year. Part third-person shooter and part action game, it fills itself to the brim with tired competence. It takes the same light/heavy weapon combat and combo system you’ve seen dozens of times before in God of War and Devil May Cry, the same extremely basic platforming of God of War (though with a wall jump in this case), the most basic shooter mechanics you’ve ever seen (L1 is aim, R1 is shoot; you know this stuff by now), the upgrade system where you earn money to buy new weapons or abilities you know well by now, the counter system of the Batman Arkham games (complete with a little indicator when an enemy is about to attack), and the same gameplay style where basic enemies fly in every few rooms with guns and melee weapons that you have to clear out before moving on. This type of design that was tired in 2009, let alone 2013. Furthermore, there are extremely few bosses, and most “boss fights” are just common enemies (there isn’t even a final boss). None of the gameplay is bad and it’s all incredibly competent, but it’s so bland and unimpressive that I recommend playing on the easy difficulty so you don’t have to deal with it.
While I acknowledge High Moon Studios absolutely put an impressive level of effort in making sure whatever budget they had was making this the best Deadpool game they could, Deadpool manages a level of mediocrity in its game design that left me seriously unimpressed in spite of the occasionally excellent writing and dialogue.