It's obvious from the presentation, before the game even starts, that this is going to be fun. The marketing campaign that has accompanied the game has raised a few chuckles so far, and immediately we're greeted with an explanation as to why the game's central character loves chimychangas (because they won't give him an STD, in case you wanted to know). It's a good indicator of what's to come.
Created by High Moon Studios (Transformers: Fall of Cybertron), this game is a sarcastic, humorous action title based on the Marvel comic book character, Deadpool. The Merc with a Mouth. The short section we played was pure combo-tastic action, full of brutal special moves, and blades that are just as razor sharp as the game's script.
It starts off with Deadpool sitting at home in his apartment, scratching his nuts with his pistol, arguing with the voices inside his head. Not your typical opening to a video game. Almost immediately the fourth-wall is smashed into pieces, obliterated by the ongoing dialogue between Deadpool, the two different voices inside his head, and the player.
We're also talking about High Moon themselves, and we open proceedings with the red-faced hero negotiating (with explosives) a deal to make the very game we're playing. It's clever stuff, and keeps in-line with the tone of the comics.
It's also very tongue-in-cheek and a little bit rude. The brief session we had with the game revealed two different sides. The first an interesting and intellectual examination of game mechanics and player interaction, the second a succession of crude gags that appeal to our more childish side.
The opening section in Deadpool's apartment lasts for a surprising amount of time (though you can end it sooner should you so wish), and during the first scene we're introduced to a couple of the controls, and the scene is set. We're under no illusions; this is going to be a very silly game.
Just how silly is yet to be determined. We ploughed through the first full level, sliced our way through dozens of rank and file henchmen, smashed up a couple of heavies, tackled a helicopter, and got to grips with the game's basic mechanics. So far, so good.
First of all we're introduced to stealth takedowns. Then, for a reason to be explained at a later point, we inflate a giant trampoline in a sewer. Next up we flit between learning a range of different combat moves, and understanding how to manoeuvre around the environment.
Controlling the superhero is relatively straight forward; run, jump, double jump, wall jump. There's some platforming sections that'll require a little bit of attention, but there's nothing too taxing here. Combat is a little more complicated, though it does feel intuitive, and it doesn't take long to pick up the basics.
There's light and heavy attacks, jump and evade. You can build your combo by using the different attacks, and when the meter is full you can deploy one of four devastating special moves. Downed foes fill the "reward pool", via dropped tokens and XP that must be collected. You can let the combo expire to multiply the reward pool by the combo count, but lost combos equals lost points.
Avoid is an interesting move. It basically allows Deadpool to teleport a short distance away from his opponents and dodge their attack. But there's a pleasing duality to the move - when an indicator flashes above an opponents head a quick button tap initiates an attack that launches your quarry into the air, where they're completely vulnerable to your subsequent attack.
Stringing these attacks together is enjoyable, but there's nothing earth-shattering going on. It's solid fun, but because of the considerable fan-service the game manages to retain a clear identity, otherwise there wouldn't be much separating it from any of the other games that employ similar gameplay tenements. The attacks inflicted on your enemies range from standard fare, to brutally gruesome. There's also comedic moments thrown into the mix. The occasional kick to the bollocks is thrown in to add colour to the slicing, dicing and decapitations.
Triggers bring up crosshairs and duel-wielding gunplay. It's a change of pace, and it means you've got options at range, particularly helpful if your opponents have whittled your health bar down (though thanks to Deadpool's powers, it never takes very long for that bar to replenish itself). At one point we're forced to battle a helicopter that sprays bullets in our direction every time we show our red face. A stealthy little manoeuvre and we're able to take control of the the chopper, the pilot all too obliging when we tell him to fly it so we can ultilise the mini-gun that had previously pestered us.
The demo ended with Deadpool taking on a stampede of guards, and a pair of rocket firing heavies, all across the backdrop of the penthouse level of a high-rise office building. Plenty of dodging was required to overcome these powerful enemies, though after the first went down we were able to pick up his launcher and use it against the second that appeared shortly after.
All that was left to do was gain access to the panic room where our enemy was concealing himself (via ALOT of explosives), before smashing both of us through a plate glass window, plummeting through the night sky. He calls us crazy (or words to that effect), but that seemingly bizarre moment at the beginning of the level, where Deadpool inflated the giant bouncy castle, proves to be the punchline at the end of this thirty minute gag.
High Moon Studios has done a good job in capturing the essence of the character, it's in keeping with the tone of the comics (more so than, for example, the Ryan Reynolds interpretation of the character), and the demo we played provided regular chortle inducing moments. The mechanics felt solid, and whilst there wasn't anything cutting edge on display, given the strength of Deadpool's character, that might just be enough to ensure the game's a success.
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