Some say that the middle tier of videogame production has disappeared; that there’s only AAA and indie titles left with nothing in between. They say that anything less than the highest quality of graphics and biggest of budgets will result in a failure when aiming for a costly retail release, and that digital distribution is the only avenue left for these videogames. The market has dried up, the consumers won’t warm to anything less than Hollywood magic and the cost of a licence can be crippling for near any production, they argue. These people, however, have not played Deadpool.
An action orientated videogame, Deadpool is a modern scrolling beat-‘em-up akin to Devil May Cry or Lollipop Chainsaw, though not as refined as either of those titles. It’s been designed with the same ethos as the much loved 16-bit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles videogames in which the combat is fluid and deep, but accessible enough to be entertaining for even the most casual player. This isn’t a videogame that’s meant to punish all but the most skilful play like DmC: Devil May Cry or even one that’s meant to be taken seriously like God of War: Deadpool is simply about being fun. And this goes for more than just the combat system, too.
Deadpool is a videogame that is designed to be witty; not just scripted, designed. Many of the jokes made are not just soundbytes that eventually become far too repetitive or special moves included purely for the funny gesture that quickly becomes stale – though these are of course included as well – but rather from a self-referential objective or breaking of the fourth wall. The whole premise of the videogame is the telling of a tale in which the protagonist is in actual fact making a videogame after all, and so some gags acknowledging common misconception and memes are expected. Much like the similarly themed Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, the delivery is occasionally a little off, but by-and-large Deadpool manages to raise a fair few smiles throughout it’s approximately ten hour campaign.
Given that Deadpool is a videogame built for casual accessibility and already features a selection of other Marvel characters it will always be a mystery as to why High Moon Studios didn’t include a co-operative gameplay mode. Aside from a few tight corridors and awkward platform sections Deadpool practically feels built for two-player action, whether online or even just split-screen.
The visual quality of Deadpool is of a varied standard, with some rather boring environments that are littered with painted-on objects play host to a collection of fantastic character models. The amount of attention that has been put onto the various accumulated damage skins of Deadpool and some of the boss characters is remarkable, especially given that far too many videogames still simply ignore this effect which should surely be standardised by now. The sound quality is also wildly uneven, with some voice acting hitting the sweet spot and some being literally deadpan, while the score is typical suited to the action if not particularly inspiring.
Deadpool is a one-shot product: the kind of videogame that will enter the market and soon be sought after in the pre-owned section as new stocks are depleted. There’s unlikely to be much in the way of downloadable content (DLC) support and the chances of a sequel are slim. However, this really doesn’t matter as Deadpool is a thoroughly enjoyable experience in its own right. It may not rank amongst the highlights of 2013’s current-generation output – this is no BioShock Infinite or The Last of Us by any means – but Deadpool sets it goal on entertaining, and accomplishes it with ease. Gaming doesn’t always have to be progressive, trying to push the boundaries of what interactive story telling can achieve, sometimes it just needs to be pure and simple slapstick fun.