It worked fine for point & click adventures back in the day. In modern times, you can tally Portal, Brutal Legend, and a few comedic gems sourced from the indie scene. Deadpool, from High Moon Studios, just manages to edge onto that list. Its comedy is lewd, but it definitely gets a laugh.
Of course, this isn't stand-up: the game's got to be judged on the gameplay as well. But given even the developers have so clearly put that consideration as secondary to the comedy, let's linger on the jokes first.
We laugh. And chuckle, thanks to the masked, overly-vulgar anti-hero (and to Nolan North, who's seemingly swigged a huge amount of caffeine, and possibly other substances, to capture the merc-with-a-mouth's voice). If Wade Wilson isn't screaming, or singing to elevator music, we hear his three inner voices express their sharply differing wills. Deadpool is a shattered man. It's hard to take him seriously, but he's also much more entertaining than either Duke Nukem or Serious Sam.
The jokes that work best are those that are purely absurd and unexpected (like Deadpool blowing up a bouncy castle) and when he's lampooning video games, as he mocks everything from QTEs, 'difficult' moral choices and more. There's even an inspired moment when the game goes over-budget and the experience turns into a simple NES Zelda-like adventure, complete with overhead camera angle. The achievements (and how you earn them) are fun. There's a ton of toilet humour and obscenities that suggest this game's true home is for those who are younger than the 18-rating on the box.
Actual gameplay though? It's the standard hack and slash gameplay that we feared it would be from earlier previews. Although there's plenty of attack choices to hurl against constant streams of enemies, you rarely need to be refined in your violent responses - just hammer the button and you'll be fine.
While the action's constantly intense, it means you'll quickly tire of the windmilling camera and carbon-copy enemies who just line up, ready to be brutalised. We use profanities that'd cause Deadpool to blush when we encounter extremely annoying flying enemies, proving a real pain to kill because of a sloppy targeting system. With bosses and their mini-versions, it's a case of protracted fights that require no finesse at all. Hide from attacks, wait for health regeneration, start hacking away, repeat. It's never difficult. Deadpool is also able to teleport - a handy feature to shoot along stages and avoid enemies. Yet the mechanic is disorientating and somewhat jerky in execution.
The longer we manage to hold a combo, the more DP points we earn, which can be cashed in at the upgrade menu. This is, like so much else in the game, a fairly mediocre job, but does offer some added value to a campaign that clocks in around seven hours. But better and/or more weapons in a world where they're not as fun to use... it's a pretty weak plus point.
Deadpool isn't just a game that lampoons the many negative aspects of the medium; it commits many of the problems that it cracks jokes at. Once the laughter subsides, you'll start ogling other - better - action titles, no matter how wooden their protagonists may be. Deadpool is a decent fart joke, but comes with a weak stench.