Deadpool reviewed: Even a self-aware game can still miss the point

Deadpool

By on July 3, 2013 at 10:42 am

Deadpool is a character who knows he’s in a comic book, but is too crazy to care. He’s an affectionate parody of another costumed mercenary, trading the original’s stone cold nature for wacky cartoon hijinks. In the hands of High Moon, a studio known for two Transformers games that demonstrate an affection and respect for that franchise, a Deadpool video game ought to be wonderfully self-aware.

Unfortunately, what they’ve produced is a game that’s crazy, but not quite in the right way.

It certainly starts off in the right direction, with Deadpool threatening to blow up the developer’s offices unless they make a game about him. Translating the character’s awareness of being in a comic to an awareness of being in a video game is the obvious choice, and the opening act of the game has a lot of fun with this. But it’s also where the trouble starts.

The first job in trying to make a self-aware video game is being honest about the medium. Deadpool comments on the production values of his apartment, and throws out the script in favour of taking mercenary jobs, but he doesn’t care that this is also a video game cliche. He has nothing to say about the framerate drops, or the camera issues, or glitches that occasionally result in his own accidental death. To be truly self-aware, the Deadpool game would have to admit that it’s a little bit broken in places. But that’s further than High Moon were apparently willing to go.

In the comics, Deadpool got Wolverine’s “mutant healing factor” as the result of an attempt to copy a previous success — and attempting to copy the success of others is something this game does well. Carving up the endless horde of mooks the game throws at you is fun for a while, and Deadpool does at least mention how many of these guys there are, and how easily he kicks their asses. But it rapidly becomes a bit of chore, and certainly not half as fun as shooting robots in High Moon’s previous games. Even as he works up strings of combos that stretch to a hundred hits or more, there’s not a single nod to the game’s combat system being very similar to that of the Arkham Batman games.

Likewise Deadpool doesn’t really acknowledge that his “mutant healing factor”, which translates into regenerating health, is one of the biggest cliches in video games at this point. There are a number of fun twists, but this is more a game that acknowledges that it is a video game, rather than one that goes the distance in showing it knows what that actually means. Perhaps one of the game’s most honest moments seems unintentional: early on, Deadpool is dumped into a Zelda-esque top-down version of the game, nonetheless still rendered in 3D. Demanding an explanation from High Moon, he’s told they ran out of money.

Though it’s not actually a bad game, it’s clear enough that — unlike the labours of love that were High Moon’s Transformers games — this was just another job for a mercenary developer who needed the cash.

Good

  • Good jokes occasionally, if a little heavy on the toilet humour
  • Combat is pretty fun, with a few nice touches

Bad

  • Quickly becomes repetitive
  • Almost no video settings – definitely a console port

Deadpool is available on Steam for a surprisingly cheap $30.

This review copy purchased by the reviewer at their own expense.

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13 comments (Leave your own)
Artful-dodgeR

Shock horror, didn’t expect this *cough*.

 

I picked this up because it was only $30.

The start of the game starts off really well. I wanted to go around his well detailed apartment and find all the stupid things.

Then I went on to play the actual game, as stated above, it becomes cliched very quickly with the press X to do Y and then spawn enemies until you get it right. (My most hated form of tutorial, well 2nd after just showing you a picture of the controller with button mappings)

Before long you’re running around spamming melee attacks with the odd range attack. It all comes crashing down as painfully repetitive.

Also the controls are so so so terrible. Press U to use? Press B to counter? What?

My favourite super hero game other than Batman was Wolverine by Raven. They got that right, while it wasn’t perfect, you actually felt like wolverine. You moved around, clawed and bled/regenerated like him.

Apart from the whacky quirks and cut scenes he could be any character.

 

I kind of have to disagree a bit, I’m currently 1/2-3/4 of the way through, and I’ve had a good deal of fun with it. It’s true there are a few bugs, some annoying invisible walls, and some of the worst keyboard mapping I’ve seen in awhile (by default anyway), but it’s refreshing to play a game that doesn’t take itself so seriously.

Having come from a long string of “serious” games, I’ve been having a great time with it despite the bugs. So given the price I’m pretty happy with it.

 

I always expect games like this to have horrible controls for a mouse and keyboard. I don’t know why TB said it controls fine with a mouse and keyboard because it doesn’t. Luckily I have a gamepad for this sort of thing.

The gameplay is severely average, but the humour and Deadpool’s character is what keeps me playing. For that reason, I’ve actually been thoroughly enjoying it regardless of its little annoyances… but I also liked DNF.

Only thing that really bothers me is the bugs – half the objects I try to activate have to be activated several times before they work properly. Getting stuck on ankle-high pieces of rubble at random times is also annoying.

 

Yeah, haven’t played it much but it’s Deadpool. Come on! The game isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s entertaining.

 

The comparison to Raven’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a really good one that I didn’t think of until discussing the game with a friend after writing this. Just like Deadpool was a not-quite-as-good copy of Wolverine in the comics, this game tries to do a lot of the same things Raven’s Wolverine did much better: melee combat with hordes of mooks, levelling up abilities as you play, regenerating health straight from the comic book source, etc. But where Raven made a game that is much better than the movie it’s based on, this game falls down in a lot of the places Raven’s game did surprisingly well.

Neither game is terrible, and neither would ever come close to being a GOTY contender, but Wolverine is a hidden gem, like so many of Raven’s games, whereas Deadpool was a disappointment after High Moon’s fantastic treatment of the Transformers franchise. Everybody talks about AAA games, but this is a good illustration of what the difference between a AA and an A might be.

 

am I the only one that read the review as “I liked it but here’s the extra dialog I want”?

the game sounds pretty good, looking forward to getting it on sale

 
AdrianForest

I didn’t think I could get away with writing the review as Deadpool reviewing his own game, but I do kind of feel it’d be in the spirit of the character for Deadpool to be his own game’s harshest critic. :)

 

Eh, I’m enjoying it quite immensely. Probably because I’m a massive Deadpool fan.

 

From what I’ve seen, this game seems to focus too much on the wacky side of Deadpool without balancing it out with serious stuff. That, coupled with this review, makes me think I should probably give this game a miss.

 

It looks like silly fun, though this seems like a console button masher rather than a PC experience.

 

Its no AAA title, and the porting is rather lazy, but its the story and characters that provide the fun, and that beats almost all AAA’s for me hands down. They just have fun, which is sort of the main idea.

And as a bonus its only $30, so for that I can live with the difficulty in the last sections rising.

Now I have to go buy a copy for the wife, now she watched it for a while…. *sigh*

 
AdrianForest

Here’s a review of the Deadpool game from Chris Sims: http://comicsalliance.com/deadpool-video-game-review/

Sims is focused more on the comics side of things, and has a lot more wordcount at his disposal. Because he’s not as focused on the games side of things, he has less to say about glitches and framerates, but he does still mention the problems of Deadpool in a video game context. Sims is also a guy who likes Deadpool a few notches more on the wacky side than I do, but that’s a scale on which there are many valid positions.

 
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