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Deadpool hilariously hacks and shoots his way to gaming greatness (review)

Above: Deadpool rides in style.

Image Credit: Activision

In the first 10 minutes of Deadpool, I blew up a sex doll, took a crap, and made 1,000 pancakes. And I couldn’t be happier.

Deadpool is a Marvel comics anti-hero known for his self-awareness. He’s constantly breaking the fourth wall and poking fun at the fact that he is a comic book character. He doesn’t care about truth and justice. He prefers over-the-top violence and busty chests. Deadpool the game, out now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, features all of this, offering bloody action, self-referential jokes, and gratuitously exposed cleavage.

It won’t make you ask any important questions about the meaning of life or your place in the universe, and it certainly isn’t the most original action game you’ll ever play, but Deadpool nails everything fans love about its title character.

What You’ll Like

It’s funny
Actually, I’ll go ahead and say that it’s really funny as long as you’re not afraid of a few penis jokes. Yes, the humor is crass, vulgar, and sometimes disgusting. I mean, you can actually watch Deadpool poop (he calls it “making a stink pickle”). It’s juvenile for sure, but I have no problem with well-executed juvenile humor, which is exactly what developer High Moon nails here.

As with the comics, some of Deadpool’s best jokes happen when he’s breaking the fourth wall and drawing attention to the fact that he’s in a video game. He’ll talk directly to the player, curse the developer when he sees something he doesn’t like, and mock the rules and conventions of the medium.

Deadpool

Deadpool will turn to the camera and hold a finger to hush his mouth as he’s sneaking up on an enemy. He’ll make fun of you if you accidentally throw a grenade when there aren’t any bad guys around. In one especially hilarious moment, a level suddenly turned into a top-down Zelda homage after Deadpool blew the entire game’s budget on the first stage.

The humor really shines through in every aspect and detail, including the mission objectives and the credits. As a fan of the character, the one thing I wanted most from a Deadpool game was for it to bring the funny, and I can happily say that it does.

Slashing and shooting
While the humor is certainly the highlight, the fighting mechanics work well. The Merc with a Mouth has access to his signature katanas and guns, splitting the action between close-ranged hacking and long-distance shooting. You’re most effective when switching between the two mid-combo. You can also unleash “momentum attacks,” special moves that you can use if you keep your combos going long enough. Using momentum is crucial. These powerful attacks are great for clearing out large groups of enemies, which is especially handy toward the end.

But teleporting is the best part of the combat. Just like in the comics, Deadpool can teleport short distances. This ability effectively replaces the dodge roll you usually see in action games, but it’s a great deal more satisfying to instantaneously zip around a battle.

Deadpool

You can also counter attacks in a way very similar to the Batman: Arkham series, a mechanic that seems to show up in just about every superhero simulator these days (just look at last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man). Luckily, countering isn’t nearly as crucial or powerful as it is in Batman and its clones, so Deadpool doesn’t feel like another knock-off.

Not to say that combat won’t feel familiar, but it’s fast and satisfying. All the bosses and henchmen offer appropriate challenges to test your skills. This isn’t one of those action games where you can win by just closing your eyes and pushing the same button over and over.

Upgrades
Speaking of familiar, Deadpool rewards your mayhem with points that you can use to unlock a bunch of upgrades, like extra damage and health. You can also get entirely new weapons, like shotguns that work better at close range than your pistols. This is mostly standard stuff, but you earn the most points by performing long combo chains. With that added incentive, you’ll really focus on keeping your combos alive as long as possible. OK, it’s a cheap and unoriginal system, but it’s still fun and rewarding.

What You Won’t Like

Stiff platforming
Like most things with two legs, Deadpool can jump. He’s just not very graceful about it. His leaps feel awkward and heavy, and you’ll find yourself falling to your death a lot during the few segments dedicated to platforming. Luckily, you can teleport right back to where you fell from, which saves you from a good deal of frustration.

Deadpool

Repeated one-liners
Aside from the scripted stuff, Deadpool also likes to run his mouth during fights. Unfortunately, he’s prone to repeating the same lines over and over. Aside from breaking the suspension of disbelief, it’s annoying. I must have heard him imitate an airplane pilot while knocking an enemy into the air about 50 times. For as short as the game is, these repeated zingers will really stand out.

Yeah, I said it’s short
That’s the other thing, Deadpool isn’t very long (I’m sure he would have inserted a dick joke here). I beat the whole campaign in about five hours. The upside is that the short length (heh) means the game doesn’t overstay its welcome, a problem I often have with the genre. By their nature, action games tend to get repetitive. But instead of getting tired, Deadpool ends just when it’s peaking. I wish High Moon could have extended the campaign by a couple of hours.

Conclusion

This is pretty much everything you could want from a Deadpool game. It’s funny, violent, and fast-paced. The campaign, while a bit short, is wonderfully consistent. I can’t really think of any particularly dull moments, and High Moon knows when to mix things up with some clever quirks, like suddenly turning everything into a 2D sidescroller.

Deadpool won’t win any awards for innovation, and it won’t really stick with you, but you’ll have a hard time not enjoying its self-aware humor and action. Fans of Deadpool the character will have a great time with Deadpool the game. As far as super hero games go, this is definitely one of the better ones.

83/100


Deadpool is out now for the Xbox 360, PlayStaion 3, and PC. The publisher provided GamesBeat with a copy of the 360 version for the purpose of this review.


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