Friday, February 12, 2016

Deadpool (Xbox One) Review

The Deadpool game has a kind of strange history.  It was released and had low sales, then was eventually de-listed from the digital marketplaces after Activision's Marvel license ran out.  It then was re-released for the current consoles, likely because of the movie in February.

The premise and tone of the game are cool and unmistakenly modern Deadpool.  He wants to make his own video game, and High Moon studios agrees to it...after some "convincing".  After being sent the script, Deadpool decides on some re-writes before doing much reading, and sets out to make the game (as a nice touch, they do list him in the credits a few times).  There are plenty of fourth wall breaks and humor to the game.  I liked many of the jokes, but some were complete misses.  I can easily see each joke polarizing the audience for or against it.  There is a lot of swearing, innuendo and other things, and a near constant barrage of humor, whether you like it or not.

Deadpool is an action game, but splits its time between hack and slash and third person shooter.  Those two elements come together pretty well all things considered, but it could have been a bit more polished.  The melee attacks have three different weapons and a few different combos, and it was pretty fun to slash and smash up the enemies.  Deadpool also gets a counter move, similar to Ninja Gaiden or the Batman Arkham games.  The counter window is a little generous, but it doesn't seem open for as long as the button is displayed on the screen.  The same button also teleports Deadpool to avoid damage.  This is kind of nice, but I would probably prefer them to be different buttons.  The teleport could work better as well.  If you teleport through an attack, you can avoid all the damage from it, but you usually have to teleport through the enemy to the other side.  If you teleport backwards or to the side, still outside of the attack's range, you will likely still get hit.  It doesn't make much sense.

The shooting didn't feel as good as the melee to me.  Aiming itself was smooth enough, but the enemies tended to move very quickly, making actually keeping the aim on them frustrating.  There is a lock-on mechanic, but it is very fickle in actually starting and staying on the target.  It was the easiest way to shoot enemies, but it still left much to be desired.  You do get four different gun types, but some (SMGs) just felt better than others (shotgun).  It also felt like the guns would do inconsistent damage, and not just because of headshots.  The first pistol round would do almost 50%, then the next would do 25% or so.  Considering the aiming and shooting in the Cybertron games (which the studio also did) was so much better, I have no idea what happened in Deadpool.

The game's difficulty level also doesn't feel very balanced.  Enemies will get stronger as the game progresses, so at least that part works.  They will also get stronger, which is fine...except you can only get 1 increase to your max health.  Plus, throughout the game, enemies with rapid fire weapons (either machine guns or the whirlwind enemies that have rapid blasts) just eat through your health.  There's no block and you can't counter it.  The teleport might let you get away, but it can be really spotty in doing so.  Plus, shots like that don't make Deadpool react, so you might be down 50% in two seconds and not even realize your were being hit.  Also, I was unashamedly playing on the easiest setting, and the rapid fire still cut through him in seconds.  That's not balanced and I would dread playing this on the hardest setting, even with all the upgrades.

Besides action, there are many times you are jumping around from ledge to ledge, platform to platform.  Deadpool's jumping is pretty good, if a bit hard to precisely control at times.  He does have a double jump ("physics be damned!"), which I always like to have.  His teleport doesn't really do anything for these sections, save for a few bits later in the game where you can directly go to another ledge.  Having that as a mechanic throughout the game might have made these parts better.  The character model does a great job of getting caught on the level's geometry, though.  This affects moving, fighting, and platforming.  The jumping in and of itself is fine, but sometimes you hit the edge of the platform or something else goes wrong and you just...miss.  Here it will prompt you for the teleport, which puts you back at an earlier platform.  It's still annoying though.

However, the biggest problem the game has to be its very frequent hang-ups.  Every 30 seconds or so, the game will lock up for a second or two.  This is very detrimental to gameplay in all areas.  It will de-sync the audio when it happens during a cut-scene.  While jumping or fighting, it doesn't stop you from being able to react, but it does throw off your timing since you won't know exactly how long it will be stuck.  There is a solution, and it is to disconnect your system from the internet while playing.  I did that and the game started working just fine.  Even so, it really shouldn't be an issue in a released game.  It just smacks of shoddy work, and it is present on both Xbox One and PS4.

The game is pretty short, too, clocking in at about 7 hours.  That's probably on the higher end of it, depending on your skill at the game, and how many parts you have to do over.  There are some challenge levels unlocked by going through the game to give you a little more to do, but a bulk of the replay and extended play is going for the achievements and trophies.  The game does get much harder by the end, especially the last stage.  This is mostly because it is an extended platforming part that then culminates with several waves of many enemies and two boss fights against multiple people.

Deadpool has some great moments, like Cable's introduction song and some of the jokes, but the action is a bit of a letdown.  There's not much unique about it and it feels unbalanced and unpolished in a lot of ways.  If you like the character of Deadpool, the game is definitely worth a rental.  Since it is so short with not much replay value, you can finish it in a day or two easy (I did).  I would not recommend a purchase, but it might be worth a try for comic book fans.

(Deadpool game used for review was rented from Redbox.)

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