Review: Deadpool for PlayStation 4
More fun than saying ‘chimichanga.’
Once upon a time (note to self: swap out this placeholder opening with a better one later), Activision released a game all about Marvel Comics’ “Merc with a Mouth,” Deadpool, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Steam back on June 25th, 2013. It was the last project of High Moon Studios, who had also developed Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, effectively revitalizing the Transformers as a video gaming franchise and legitimizing them as more than just your typical licensed fodder.
Bizarrely, January 1st, 2014 saw a widespread purging of almost every licensed Marvel Comics video game from digital storefronts, from Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to Activision’s own titles inspired by the House of Ideas, including Deadpool. That’s right: not even half a year, and if you didn’t manage to snag a physical copy, you were straight outta luck. Incidentally, I did not manage to snag such a copy, thus leaving me SOL myself.
But as the midway point of 2015 was crossed by the collective human race, something happened: Deadpool was returned to Steam in July, and in November, he came back to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — probably due in no small part to Deadpool starring in his own self-titled movie on February 12th, 2016.
And by gum, this time I made sure to get in on the action. Really, I kind of felt I had to — he’s a Canadian superhero, after all! Or at least, that’s what he’ll tell you if you ask. Maybe if you don’t. Who am I to argue, either way?
So, here’s the thing: Deadpool is not your average video game. Actually, in some ways, it is your average video game, but that’s half the fun and most of the point.
Unlike most video games, Deadpool is — depending on your sense of humor, mind — funny as hell. Many games try to provide a movie-like experience, but Deadpool is out to make you laugh. It is very cinematic at times, but much of it is in the service of delivering zany and irreverent humor, breaking the fourth wall, deconstructing video games in general, and having an overall good time. There have been funny video games before, but I don’t think there are many that are worth experiencing over and over again for laughs in the same way one might watch a movie or episodes of a television show they really love.
Here’s the thing, though, and this could be the make-or-break factor for a lot of people. If you’re already familiar with Deadpool — the character, the comic, his cartoon appearances (but not that gawdawful X-Men Origins: Wolverine version, which has blissfully been retconned out of existence) — you know what to expect. But for the rest of you, despite the big “M” on the box for “Mature?” It’s really not. There’s cursing, there’s blood-splattering violence, there’s sexual innuendo — nothing really for the younger crowd, though I’m sure they’d giggle their heads off (and gasp in horror at some points) if an irresponsible adult were to allow them to play unsupervised.
Really, the best way to get the point across is with this scene here. Warning: Very Not Safe For Work, and maybe kinda spoilery:
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there is all sorts of craziness throughout; this one just encompasses as many different kinds as I can think of in one bit. If you liked that, then this game is probably for you.
Me? I love it! Some comic books — or in this case, video games — get all up in themselves with how serious they can be, and I’ve always enjoyed when something knocks it all aside and just reminds us that this is all supposed to be fun.
Aside from the set piece bits like the above, Deadpool does have a tendency to talk to himself a lot — not that I’d have it any other way — and while it does get a little repetitious at times, it largely moves at such a clip that you’ll recognize hearing the same quips you’ve heard before on occasion, but not so much that it becomes grating.
Outside of the fourth wall-breaking antics, the gameplay in Deadpool should feel a bit familiar if you’ve played High Moon’s Transformers titles. Not the same (Deadpool’s movement feels better, for one — probably owing to the fact that he’s not a two-story tall Cybertronian mechanoid), but certain familiar elements follow through, largely where shooting things is concerned. whether it’s from a turret or a handgun. That said, most of the combat is conducted up close and personal with a hand-to-hand flair, and it’s fairly standard combo-based action wherein you rack up combos, collect Deadpool Points, and upgrade your arsenal and abilities to suit your style. The starting swords are great, but maybe you want something a little speedier and go for the sai, or more punch with some big ol’ hammers.
You will break out your guns just a bit, whether your standard pistols, shotguns, or the big plasma rifle — or, if some oversized henchman (henchmutant?) drops their big toy, like above, you can hang onto it for a while as well. There is also a variety of other items you can utilize. You start with hand grenades, but when a giant oaf is coming my way, I like to set a beartrap in his path so I can wail away at him without a care as he tries to get that all sorted out. Or there’s the proximity bomb, a favorite of mine when I plant one next to a doorway and bait some jerks who are better shots than I am to come in after me.
Oh, and while some other video game characters will heal up if you avoid taking damage for a bit, Deadpool’s is legit — taken straight from Wolverine himself, and if you can avoid being shot or stabbed for a few moments, he’ll heal right up — including the damage to his costume! Keep in mind, though, there are some points where Deadpool takes damage more brutal than the normal wear ‘n tear of gameplay, and while he’ll generally be fine once he pulls himself together, it may not be for the squeamish.
Outside of combat, there’s a good bit of variety in what you do as well. There’s platforming, later augmented by the same teleporter that you use during combat, there’s shooting bits like the above, some quick-time-ish stuff that’s mostly played for laughs — it keeps things interesting.
It’s not always for the best, though. One portion requires you to sneak up upon *redacted* quietly, and if any of the guards catch you, then bang — off to the game over screen and back to the last checkpoint for you. I absolutely hate when stuff like that is interjected into games like this, as so often, I can’t make the switch — or it’s not done well, pick one. At least when I suck at Metal Gear Solid, I can still run for it.
But here? Even though I’m good at DP’s stealth takedowns anywhere else, it feels like the rules almost change here somehow, and even though I’d be the same distance away, I wouldn’t receive the prompt and what would normally be a perfect kill any other time alerts everyone as Deadpool gives a shot and instead unleashes his normal attack.
You can’t change difficulty level mid-game, but fortunately, I didn’t need to: the game eventually got fed up with me fouling it up and just pushed ahead to the next scene. A little demeaning, sure, and it took a while, but I wish more games would do that. At least the ones that wedge in unexpected stealth bits that I can’t do right into the middle of an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable experience. I mean, it’s only fair, since I didn’t buy into this as a stealth game, so I shouldn’t be expected to bring the skills of a stealth game player into this, right?
I blame Cable for this.
Deadpool is kind of a tough game to talk about, as all the best stuff basically requires one giant “Spoiler Warning” tag. Don’t get me wrong, the combat is fun, too, but even a lot of great parts of that are tied into the story in such a way that they can be tough to talk about — see the video above, if you want an example.
It’s gameplay is, for the most part, quite solid and services the story quite well. The gameplay isn’t revolutionary, but it doesn’t need to be — if you’re interested in playing this, you’re probably in it more for Deadpool’s high jinks and the laughs that ensue, rather than something designed to make Miyamoto or someone say “why didn’t I think of that?”
Deadpool is just a good, solid, enjoyable experience throughout, and if that’s all you want, the Merc with a Mouth has got you covered. It’s just a shame that High Moon isn’t around any more, because between this and Transformers, they clearly knew how to treat a license. On the upside, at least they went out on a high note.
Deadpool was released on November 18th, 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One at a price of $64.99, re-released on PC/Steam at a price of $43.99, and (according to the trailer above) re-released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 for a price unknown.
A review copy of the PlayStation 4 version was provided by Activision.