Friday, 12 July 2013

Game Review: Deadpool

Deadpool is one of the most popular comic characters around, and yet nobody outside of the medium knows who he is really. He’s one of those characters whose unique brand of humour combined with exciting action has endeared him to fans, Ryan Reynolds’ brief appearance in ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ as Deadpool the wider world was given a glimpse into what this anti-hero is all about. Now with the release of his own game Deadpool finally has his moment in the spotlight to show non-comic readers how he has gained such a devoted following over the years.

‘Deadpool’ arrived at a perfect time for me, I had just recently finished up with ‘The Last of Us’, a true masterpiece in gaming and what I would consider the game of this generation. In an unlikely turnout ‘Deadpool’ proved to be a very compatible companion for ‘The Last of Us’, both have a mature audience in mind and are unflinching the places they will go to tell their story. This doesn’t mean ‘Deadpool’ is a drama however, it is entirely the opposite, ‘Deadpool’ is the perfect palate cleanser for someone who has just finished playing an emotionally devastating and engaging drama, thanks to all the humour brought to the table by the “merc with a mouth” I found myself laughing my way through the game as a kind of cathartic therapy for the post traumatic stress of ‘The Last of Us’.

If you don't find this at least at little funny then you definitely won't enjoy this game.

This brings me to one of the most important things to consider before even approaching this game; you should understand that it is one hundred percent totally a game. Everything from the generic third-person action to the frequent interactive button prompts just screams “This is a game!” to the player, so if you came to this expecting immersion of any kind then I can tell you now, you are going to be disappointed. ‘Deadpool’ certainly doesn’t take itself seriously which allows for some immersion into the character himself and somewhat into the Marvel lore but the flimsy story here serves little purpose other than giving Deadpool a playground to go crazy in.

A character like Deadpool is almost perfectly suited for a game adaption as his powers and abilities cover the most common video game tropes such as regenerative health and dual wielding blades and guns but when it comes to gameplay ‘Deadpool’ is incredibly disappointing. With such a generic combat system it honestly drains away some of the flair of originality present in the game’s script, frankly there isn’t anything here that you haven’t seen dozens of times before, and better executed at that. There isn’t a lack of enjoyment in the gameplay but in a formula that has been done to death as much as this third-person action adventure has it’s hard to effectively get into it. Add to that a broken stealth mechanic, which infuriatingly is mandatory in a section of the game, and an awkward camera that often locks closer to Deadpool than you want it to and you’ll find your dislike of the gameplay affecting your enjoyment of the comedy. Aside from all that you’re faced with trawling through bland, repetitive environments and battling a tediously unvaried army of goons. Sometimes not even Deadpool’s screwball clowning is enough to stave off the boredom.

The combat in 'Deadpool' is adequate but certainly not impressive.

Thankfully rescuing this game from its shameful gameplay is the true epicentre of its appeal, the humour, this is something that I feel will certainly divide people right down the middle into love it or hate it camps. Personally I loved it. The bulk of the congratulations on this front must go to Nolan North who has finally been given the opportunity (aside from his work as Nathan Drake) to break free from his “everyman hero” chains and show just how capable an actor he really is. North demonstrates particular range in his voice acting through his distinct voices for each of Wade’s split personalities. ‘Deadpool’ takes every opportunity available to poke fun at and satirise the medium of video games whether it be a level controlled in an iconic side-scrolling fashion or a quick quip from Deadpool himself about the artificial intelligence of a particular enemy. One of the funniest and most surprising moments in the game that I can recall is during a cut scene where Deadpool meets up with Cable. Cable informs Deadpool of some very critical information but the player is not privy to this information as Wade’s utter boredom brings forth his schizophrenic hallucinations such as him riding in a children’s coin operated rocket ship and turning his glove into a puppet. This scene culminates in a button prompt to the player, “Press R1 to make it stop”, which remains on the screen as Deadpool pleads in apparent agony for the player to press it, once pressed he immediately pulls his gun out and shoots himself in the head, Cable can only frustratingly shout “Dammit Wade!”

All I can say is that ‘Deadpool’ is very much like the eponymous character himself. Often very funny, entertaining, and most definitely an acquired taste.

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