Developer: High Moon Studios Publisher: Activision UK Price: £29.99 US Price: $39.99 Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Deadpool is a confusing game. It can be viewed as either a fantastic opportunity to represent virtually one of Marvel's most interesting creations of recent years, tragically let down by mechanics that are so by-the-numbers you'd be forgiven for thinking it was designed by a team comprised entirely of accountants. Alternatively, it could be seen as a lesson in how to take a game intended from the get-go by a publisher to tick a certain number of boxes, and elevate it into something that's moderately enjoyable.
Either way, the result is a game that will have you chuckling merrily one minute and bore you to tears the next.
The best way to understand Deadpool the game is to temporarily remove Deadpool the character from the equation, and see what we're left with. Oh look! It's a completely standard third-person superhero game! Approximately three-quarters of Deadpool's length involves you performing four actions; killing stuff with melee weapons, killing stuff with ranged weapons, platforming, and upgrading your abilities. Oh, there's also one mandatory stealth section but it lasts about eight seconds and is appalling.
As for the game's four other facets, none of them are especially awful, but none of them are particularly brilliant either. Ranged combat is the weakest. Deadpool's four available guns - pistols, shotguns, machineguns and lasers - each of which is duel-wielded, all feel hollow and unsatisfying when fired. That is, with the exception of the latter option, somewhat ironic for a gun that fires bursts of light rather than metal slugs.
Platforming fares better, although this may be because it's used entirely as filler between bouts of combat, offering little to no challenge in the process and so passes almost completely unnoticed. It's Melee combat where the game is at its strongest, and the designers clearly understood this because it's what you'll spend most of your time doing.
The fighting system is built around simple two-button combos for light and heavy attacks, with a third button that enables Deadpool to either teleport or counter an incoming attack depending on where exactly he is at the time. It's functional, but initially it does feel rather underwhelming, primarily because the more interesting aspects to the melee combat system, such as power attacks, gun-katas (using guns during hand-to-hand) and other combos, need to be unlocked.
Once equipped with Deadpool's twin hammers (he apparently does everything in twos) with a couple of power attacks to go with it, the combat becomes considerably more engaging. The upgrades can't stop it eventually becoming something of a grind, however. Even the most basic of opponents in Deadpool can take quite a beating, and the game likes to throw a dozen or so at you every few minutes. Combine this with environments that opt for the "grey concrete corridor" aesthetic more often than not, and you've got a recipe for slow-roasted tedium.