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Deadpool review: Drowning in it

By Tamoor Hussain on Tuesday 25th Jun 2013 at 1:00 PM UTC

Hello! Do you know Deadpool? Would you like to experience a slightly-annoying version of that character in a sub-par, mechanically boring third-person action game? If you answered "no" to either of these questions you should be on your way, this game probably isn't for you.

In the opening moments of Deadpool players unlock an achievement for pressing up on the controller: 'The first one's free - 10G'. A second later another achievement is unlocked: 'The second one is also free - 20G'.

"So it's gonna be one of those games huh," says the masked anti-hero.

Deadpool is interesting because he knows he's a fictional character and has knowledge of the real world. In panels and word balloons this means breaking the fourth wall for an occasional chat with the reader and some pop-culture references mixed in with his explosive antics.

In his video game that knowledge also manifests in an astute self-assessment of the caliber of the experience; that it's likely to be remembered as a quick way to score achievement points above all else.

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High Moon Studios garnered much praise for Transformers games that were fun and respectful of the license. While Deadpool stays true to the character, it isn't much fun to play. It's mechanics are unrefined, it suffers from technical flaws and it employs some very frustrating design decisions.

Fun-loving criminal

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Deadpool is a difficult character to read at times and, I imagine, equally difficult to write. Essentially a super-powered frat boy, he walks the thin line between boisterous scamp and offensive jerkwad. Being a fan of the character is a lot like being the guy defending the jock throwing slushies at kids in the hallway. To strike the right balance High Moon enlisted the help of Daniel Way, who has previously written the character for Marvel.

Way's involvement ensures that, for the most part, the Deadpool in the game is the one we know and the one some of us love. He's loud, lewd and completely driven by his base instincts, whether that's a lust for Chimichangas or for burying his face in some ample bosoms. He's foul-mouthed, picks the path of most resistance every time, acts on whims, is egotistical and utterly insane. Honestly though, he's a cool guy once you get to know him.

Deadpool has its fair share of chuckle-worthy moments, most resulting from his repeated demolishing of the fourth wall. He's constantly phoning up High Moon Studios to talk about aspects of his game, he chastises the player for making him look bad, and even talks to Nolan North at one point. Incidentally, North's voicing of Deadpool's split-personalities is stellar, and one of the game's highlights.

"Deadpool remarks that there hasn't been any love put into its construction. It's fair to extrapolate that sentiment to the game as a whole"

Similarly, there are a handful of gameplay moments that raise a smile. For example, at one point the game briefly becomes a top down Zelda-like game after Deadpool blows a significant portion of the budget on a massive explosion in the previous mission. In another he rides around in the boot of a Sentinel gunning down enemies and stomping on architecture.

The space in between these are filled with demeaning one-liners hurled at enemies, chewing up air with self-congratulating and chattering with the other Deadpools in his head. Admittedly, these are less reliable for laughs and after some repetition they grate.

Deadpool's mission starts off as a simple kill-the-evil-media-mogul contract, but escalates when Mister Sinister, the X-Men villain that likes to fiddle with DNA for the purpose of cloning, kills his mark. Unable to collect on the payout Deadpool sets off to teach Sinister a lesson, eventually joined by Cable, Rogue, Wolverine, Domino and a few other Marvel familiars out to actually save the world.

The setting of his adventure is Genosha, a fictional country ruled by mutant supremacist Magneto, but now the base of operations for Sinister. For fans of the Marvel universe this setting is a tantalising prospect as, even in comics, Genosha remains relatively unexplored, and as an allegory for the apartheid it presents some interesting opportunities.

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Of course, Deadpool is hardly the man to tackle those themes with any sort of sensitivity, so it isn't really fair to expect that from his game. What we can expect is some interesting environments, but what we get are a series of nondescript jungles, caves, sewers and gothic citadels that'll be forgetten the very the moment they leave sight.

Every now and then the game will cut to some ludicrous scenario like firing colorful bullets at a diorama scene, but the visuals are so rough and inconsistent that it's tantamount to drizzling honey on a turd.

In the visual department there are plenty of other deficiencies beyond the uninspired aesthetic. Stop to have a look around the environments and you'll see some distressingly low-resolution textures, including one of the ugliest dog models ever seen.

At one point, when looking around his own apartment, Deadpool remarks that there hasn't been any love put into its construction. It's fair to extrapolate that sentiment to the game as a whole. The exceptions are Deadpool's character model, which is of high-quality and reflects damage taken. Other characters such as Cable and Wolverine look decent technically, but are generally boring in actual design.

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