Deadpool Hands-On Preview – All Mouth
Written Saturday, May 11, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Deadpool is something of an acquired taste. As Marvel characters go, he's pretty out there. An unhinged mercenary with voices in his head, borne of the same Weapon X programme as Wolverine, he's more than deserving of his very own game. Whether High Moon's Deadpool is the game to do the character justice however, well that's a whole different kettle of masked superhero fish.
Deadpool kicks off with the eponymous hero sat in his apartment, scratching his privates with a pistol while listening to phone messages from Wolverine, Domino and High Moon Studios. Agreeing to make a game based on Deadpool's pitch, the script comes in the mail and after some impromptu changes with a red wax crayon, the Merc With a Mouth is ready to roll. Pew pew!
There's absolutely no doubt that High Moon and former Deadpool comic book writer Daniel Way have nailed the character from the very second we pick up the controller and fire up the game, exploring his run down apartment. You can surf the 'internets', play with your pet dog (red rocket, red rocket!), gaze upon Wade Wilson's scarred visage in the bathroom mirror, and while away the minutes finding all manner of Deadpool easter eggs.
Deadpool himself is spot-on, and Nolan North's voice work is typically superb, but whether the gameplay itself can measure up to the clear fan service on show, we're not entirely sure that this first hands-on is all that convincing. Especially worrying when the game is just over a month from release.
High Moon has forged itself something of a solid reputation for third-person action titles with the Transformers Cybertron series, and while Deadpool possesses similar shooter mechanics, it doesn't seem to have quite the depth and level of polish present in those games.
Perhaps we went in with high expectations, but given that Deadpool's core combat proficiency lies in his katana swords and dual pistols, we figured the game would play something along the lines of the Devil May Cry series. But it doesn't. It's possible that High Moon is applying the final spit and polish to the game as we speak, but it's not all that evident in this preview build.
Instead Deadpool plays more like a hack and slasher that's been clumsily stitched onto a third-person shooter. It just doesn't quite gel like it should, and the frame rate isn't quite up to snuff when compared to its hack and slasher contemporaries. Again, this is something that could change in the run up to the game's launch.
Still, there's depth and longevity in the vast array of upgrades and additional weapons at Deadpool's fingertips, offering a glimpse of the gameplay variety that'll come with purchasing new stuff. This aspect of Deadpool is incredibly promising. The part where you're required to collect little tokens, not so much.
During the course of our hands-on demo, which is the very same section of gameplay we initially saw in a hands-off state during Gamescom last year, we face countless troops in a TV studio, where Deadpool's on the trail of corrupt media tycoon, Chance White.
The action is fast-paced and immediate, and switching between swordplay and gunplay on the fly is nice and seamless, but where the hack and slash side of the equation feels meaty and satisfying, the gunplay feels somewhat loose and imprecise. Despite Deadpool's ability to fire his guns 360-degrees, shooting backwards over his head with style, we still feel like the shooting aspect of the game is missing the all-important immediacy that the swordplay has in spades.
Sure, bagging a headshot is every bit as satisfying as it should be, yet this is in no small part down to what appears to be the almost complete absence of auto-aim. In a game as frenetic and action-orientated as Deadpool, the baggy 'snap-to-an-enemy' aiming mechanic doesn't work nearly as efficiently as it should, meaning most of your bullets will find the floor and the walls before they hit your enemies. Not exactly the work of a pro mercenary.
That said, the game does a pretty fine job of keeping the camera in check, and automatically locks on to the nearest foe when you're busting out Deadpool's swift and deadly melee moves. In fact, as melee fighting goes, Deadpool pushes most of the right buttons, despite the relentless action sometimes feeling a little bit repetitious when you're inundated with bad guys.
On the face buttons, you've got light and heavy attacks mapped to X and Y, while A is jump and B activates Deadpool's teleportation device, enabling him to swiftly dodge incoming attacks or counter moves when the B button icon appears above an enemy's head. Executing a counter launches an enemy into the air, opening them up to a combo that sees limbs being struck off, spurting gallons of the red stuff all over the walls. You aim and shoot with the left and right triggers.
Successful attacks and combos feed into Deadpool's Momentum Meter, which with a press of LB and A allows you to pull off a spin attack that's perfect for crowd control. Earning plenty of DP (Deadpool Points), you can unlock upgrades and new weapons at any time, so we add a shotgun, sais and grenades to our arsenal.
Suddenly, things start to get a lot more interesting as we mix up Deadpool's weaponry, switching up guns and blades with the d-pad. There's certainly no shortage of diversity where the weapons, progression and skill trees are concerned, which should ensure there should be more than enough in terms of longevity, the campaign's runtime not withstanding.
Our final order of business with Deadpool is a quick sampling of the Challenge Mode, featuring three waves of survival gameplay against the clock. It's a typical Horde-style game-type that ought to be good fun when competing against friends for a spot on the leaderboard. Getting shot up shreds Deadpool's costume and flesh in a neat visual touch, before his healing factor kicks in to top up your health.
Deadpool (the game) is something of an acquired taste. We're huge fans of the the Merc with a Mouth, and have read the comics for years, so we desperately want High Moon's game to be great. On the strength of this first hands-on, it's not currently up to the same standards as DmC or Ninja Gaiden, although with the tongue-in-cheek humour in place and the character perfectly realised, perhaps Deadpool can get by on charm alone. Or perhaps Deadpool might just be all mouth and no substance.
Deadpool will be shattering through the fourth wall on June 25th in North America and June 28th in Europe.