Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Review: Deadpool (PC)

deadpool versus a group of baddies

It's hard to walk two steps without tripping over a game or movie cashing in on the popularity of comic book heroes. Whether it's Iron Man, Superman, The Avengers, or a myriad of others, the eyes of game and movie executives the world over are seeing dollar signs from this sort of thing right now, and we are just getting saturated by it.  In the realm of gaming, Deadpool is the latest superhero to get tossed at us. It's a competent action-laden affair with plenty of crude humor and wacky hi-jinks, but the game is about par for the course for what one should expect from a hacky, slashy, shooty superhero game. Moreover, it's incredibly short which, despite it's relatively budget price tag, is very hard to ignore.

hammers are fun
With Deadpool being one of the more insane members of the Marvel universe, he's brought a fair bit of comedy to the table in a pantheon of far more straight faced, serious minded heroes. As such, this game is riddled with humor, and often times it's very crude. Usually I'm not a fan of that sort of thing, as it can feel forced, or just a little too juvenile for my tasted. However, the game pulls it off well here. The timing of the jokes is great, there's some nice random, tangential humor, and Deadpool as is a very likable character. The basic premise of the game is that Mr. Sinister is up to no good, and Deadpool has to stop him. The details of how or why aren't all that important, as it's the journey that matters. Along the way players will encounter other heroes like Cable, Wolverine, Rogue, and Lady Death (all of whom had great voice acting, by the way). The story is very easy to follow, even if you aren't up to speed with what's going on in the Marvel universe with the game going so far as to giving little intros to key people as players meet them so they know who they are and why they're important.

As players make their way to the big fight with Mr. Sinister they'll need to blast, cut, and pound their way through legions of his cronies. The action is fairly standard stuff with lots of hacking and slashing, mixed with some third person shooting, as well as a liberal dose of teleportation since that's Deadpool's thing. It's reasonably entertaining, but by no means does it stand above other action games on the market. It's a lot of wading through hordes of enemies, exercising crowd control and target prioritization, while using some basic combos and special attacks to mow down the bad guys a little bit quicker.  Don't go into Deadpool expecting any wheels to be reinvented, as the action is just dumb fun that adheres to standards of the genre.

acrobatic gun play
The closest that players can expect to any revolutionary new wheels are the occasional novelty area of the game, as there are small sections of the game that try to shake things up. These include a 2D action platforming area reminiscent of classic Prince of Persia games, a shooting gallery on a boat, and a retro overhead viewed dungeon. They're very small distractions in the game, but they do break up the traditional action game elements that make up the bulk of Deadpool.

The challenge of ploughing through these baddies is reasonably decent. Just as I was getting used to what the game was throwing at me it would start throwing new types of enemies into the mix that needed special consideration when they stepped onto the scene. Larger enemies and bosses often times proved to be the easiest foes to deal with in the game. The former could usually be easily dealt with via an exploit: taking a couple swings at them and then teleporting to the other side of the enemy to repeat the process. Boss fights are sparse in the game, and when they do happen the fights tend to have a gimmick to deal with whoever Deadpool is dealing with. One of the last fights in the game against three bosses at once was one of the few really challenging boss fights.

There's also a simple progression system here. While you start off with a pair of katana blades and pistols, there will be little point tokens strewn throughout the levels that can be collected and spent on new weapons, upgrades, and abilities. Points can also be earned by pulling off big combos while smacking around enemies. With that players need to decide what skills and weapons they want to favor on their playthrough because there's no way that they'll be able to max everything out by the time the reach Mr. Sinister. Additional weapons include sai swords, hammers, a shotgun, machine gun, and laser rifle, all of which can be upgraded for more damage, new combos, and the like. Abilities can also be enhanced such as health regen, critical strike chance, and so forth. It's a very nice mix of abilities, and gives a little something extra for players to think about while playing the game.

simple stealth mechanics

The aesthetic in the Deadpool isn't all that impressive, though. It's not horrible by any means. It's just average. Characters and environments fulfill their roles, but there's no wow factor. If anything, I'd say there was just a tad too much brown and grey in the environments. There was also the occasional frame rate fluctuation. Nothing terrible, but it was slightly noticeable from time to time.

While Deadpool is reasonably action packed, it's single greatest flaw is that it is extremely short. I'm not the greatest gamer in the world, and I was able to finish the story in less than seven hours on normal difficulty. People more skilled than I will likely complete it even quicker. Even with the game clocking in at forty bucks, that's still pretty quick for the it to be over, and I can see it being a major sticking point for people. Yes, there are challenge modes that unlock as players progress in the story, but they aren't exactly riveting. Most people will likely futz around in them a few times before moving on. They just aren't enough to compensate for such a short campaign.

death from above
In the end, hardcore Deadpool fans may want to get this game sooner rather than later, but for everyone else I'd say wait. There is some fun to be had here bashing baddies over the head with hammers and the like, and the story is pretty hilarious. However, the extremely short length of the game is a deal breaker. Wait until Deadpool gets a Steam sale or some such before picking it up.

- Jeff Nash

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(Check out my video review of the game here if that's more your thing)

The Good:
- Story is hilarious
- Fun abilities and weapons to unlock
- Good voice acting

The Bad:
- Ho-hum presentation
- The game is really short

Score: 7.0 / 10

Have you played this game? What did you think of it? Loved it? Hated it? Why? Let us know in the comments!