Preview: Deadpool Breaks the fourth wall, and the third, and...
Being quite the big Deadpool fan, I was ecstatic when I got the chance to check out the upcoming Deadpool game from Activision and High Moon Studios. As is the case with any licensed title, there's the risk of an otherwise generic game being slapped with a meager coat of recognizable paint. Too often we get games that not only fail to capture what fans love about the original property but are also just bad games in general. Deadpool is looking to do something about that.
High Moon Studios has been working hand in hand with a man who understands Wade Wilson (AKA Deadpool) better than most: Daniel Way, who recently wrapped up a four-year run writing the character’s ongoing comic series. This is immediately apparent in the game, as Deadpool and his two inner voices (all voiced by Nolan North) recite line after hilarious line of dialogue. “Stop dropping my camera, player!”
Deadpool's opening sequence had me hooked: Wade sits in his dingy apartment, scratching his junk and listening to voicemails (from the likes of Wolverine and Domino) until he finally gets one from the head of High Moon Studios who, after some… coaxing, let’s say, agrees to give Deadpool his own video game. After pushing a button to make him get up off his ass (the actual in-game prompt) you can freely explore his home to your heart’s content. Activities include playing with blow-up dolls and commenting on what a poor job the junior designers did building some of the apartment’s assets.
After all, what would a "Merc with a Mouth" game be without some fourth wall breaking? And boy, does that wall get broken. Often. Throughout the game, Deadpool will speak directly to the player or otherwise acknowledge the fact that he’s in a video game. In one instance, he got bored running down a staircase and decided he needed a theme song for the chase. Said theme song began, lasted about ten seconds, and then he got bored of it so it stopped. In another sequence, Deadpool commented on the achievements he unlocked for literally doing nothing. Later he ran into his old buddy Cable, and as the time-displaced warrior explained important plot points, Wade urged the player to press the right trigger to skip it all. And if you don’t know who Cable is you needn’t worry, the game offered a ‘Who the F**K is Cable?” mini-video, and the result had me on the ground laughing.
So yeah, the characterization is on point. But what about Deadpool's gameplay? It’s actually pretty solid. I’m not going to say that this game is revolutionary -- far from it; this is very much your standard third-person action game. But that’s hardly a bad thing. Players can switch between sword melee and gun-fu, as well as the occasional ‘stealth’ mission (this is still Deadpool, so use that term lightly). Over time, players can unlock new abilities and weapons, like the ability to teleport around the battlefield or breakdance-fight a large group of enemies.
The various skills and weapons keep Deadpool from becoming repetitive, and the gun-fu is particularly fun to play around with. Linking together different combos and picking up enemy weapons adds extra variety. If you’ve played Devil May Cry or anything like it then you’ll be right at home here. In the early build I played, there was the occasional jumpy moment, especially where platforming and exploration were concerned, but those things will no doubt be addressed by release. As I said, the gameplay is nothing mind-blowing, but it does its job well and allows for the game’s personality to really shine through.
Even the fact sheet for this game was amusing. The fact sheet.
If you’re a fan of Deadpool, I probably don’t have to do much convincing to get you to pick up this game, but since I’m here: Pick up this game! This is an authentic Deadpool adventure that any fan of the character will adore, and even if you’re not familiar with him you’ll likely have a good time. During my session with the game I couldn’t stop smiling, and that’s never a bad thing.
Activision and High Moon Studios’ Deadpool drops June 25 for the 360, PS3, and PC.