I’m a total sucker for silly and inventive ways of telling a story, and if you ask me, 2013 has and will have some of the finest examples of this in gaming. If you know anything about Deadpool, then you know that his character can bring this in buckets, spades and… chimichangas. How else can a game featuring a hero with multiple personalities play out?
It’s a damn good thing that this Deadpool game reunites the character with some of his historical writers and cast. Daniel Way returns to the character after writing his comics for a healthy four year stretch, and Nolan North comes back to do the voices. If you just ellicited a groan of then you should know that this is actually a really good thing.
Sure, Nolan gets around a lot of games, but here he gets to do lots of different voices and personalities, as opposed to just sounding like himself. He also does a fine job of rabbiting away to himself, and he’s voiced Deadpool on a fair few occasions in the past, so coming back to the role and getting to play around in this little sandbox of a script really shows the breadth of what he can do.
The game itself picks up in Deadpool’s apartment, listening to voice mail from a few characters from the rest of the Marvel universe, before terrorising High Moon Studios into making this video game for him. It’s a lovely point to pick things up, letting you walk around and interact with a few things, like smushing a slice of pizza into his mask, as he attempts to eat, petting his dog, practicing his air guitar.
It sets up what to expect perfectly, with off-the-wall humour all over. It comes as no surprise that he heavily edits the script for the game, starts singing a theme tune to himself as he walks down some stairs, quotes Shakespeare and blows up a bouncy castle. Oh, and it wouldn’t be Deadpool without him breaking the fourth wall. A lot.
Of course, a game and character like this will live and die by the combat, and this is your fairly standard set up for the third person brawler. Light attacks and heavy attacks combined into nice, flowing combos with Deadpool’s trademark twin Katanas, and later on into the game you’ll be able to unlock a pair of Sai, which let you play with a much faster attacking style, or a pair of hefty hammers for slower, heavier weapons.
All of these melee weapons are complimented by a pair of pistols, with a simple lock-on targetting system, where manual aiming is too sluggish to be useful. It pushes you towards getting a few bullets in quickly, before getting up close and personal, and hacking bad guys up. Of course, you can switch things up with SMGs and so on, for a nice bit of variety in the weaponry.
It’s not just going to be weapons to unlock, but improvements to these weapons and further abilities. You have Momentum attacks which reward you for chaining attacks and combos, for example. The first of these has Deadpool shoving a sword into the ground and performing a spin attack, another initiates a pretty cool charge attack, ripping up the ground in your wake. A neat little twist here is that each Momentum attack has its own individual meter, so you could have a whole bunch of these specials saved up and unleash them all in a tight situation.
Something that can happen quite quickly, as even with his super-human healing factor, you can still die in combat. Parts of Deadpool’s body fly off, after protracted periods of combat, but if you go about handling certain situations poorly you will fall. In particular, getting stuck in a big melee, when there are too many gun toting enemies nearby will do you in. Some enemies will practically force you to attack them in a certain fashion, with one particularly brutish enemy needing you to shoot him, rather than get up close.
Every once in a while you’ll get to pull out some hilariously brutal stealth kills, in certain situations. I actually had the PR guy who was in the room burst out laughing at one point, stating that he hadn’t see a particular move yet, and it would seem that there are quite a lot of different moves to go hand in hand with the varied incidental voice work.
In the midsts of combat you can teleport to avoid enemies, though this is a little troublesome in its implementation. It’s a context sensitive button which handles both blocking and teleporting, and generally does a good job. Hopefully something that will be nailed in the final rounds of development, I’d often hit the button to try and block, and end up teleporting instead, or teleport twice, even…
Similarly, I’m hoping that the camera will get tweaked, to iron out kinks with it tracking you when fighting in confined spaces, and this should also help out the platforming elements which I felt were a little woolly. Admittedly, when the focus is so closely on the combat, script and characterisation, the platforming isn’t such a big concern, it could just do with some tweaking.
Challenge mode will give you just this pure combat, dropping you into a little arena taken from the story mode and throwing a few waves of enemies at you to defeat against the clock. Perfect for honing your combat and practicing against particular enemies.
But the real takeaway for me was that this is looking like a solid bit of fun. The script and acting will often have you chuckling to yourself, whilst there’s a fair bit of challenge to the combat. There’s even a pay off to that bouncy castle moment.
Deadpool is set for release on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on the 28th of June. Oh, and it’s an 18 game.