If you're reading this, then High Moon Studio's Deadpool was made specifically for you. No, this isn't some misguided attempt to match the meta, fourth-wall-breaking nature of the titular Merc with a Mouth--Deadpool is a game very obviously made for the kind of gamers that read this site. The kind of gamer knows who Nolan North is, and finds jokes about his voice being in everything funny. The kind of gamer that would appreciate Batman-style "BAM!" and "POW!" sound effects whenever you hit the Batman-style counter button. The kind of gamer that's reading this review, right now. Deadpool was crafted with a love and respect for the character, and the result is something that should make fans of the crass, rude mercenary very happy.
Deadpool starts the game on the phone with the president of High Moon Studios, discussing the details of the game you're currently playing. It's not the only time he calls High Moon, either--whenever he finds a glitch in the world, or wants to yell about a boring section, he whips out his cell phone and dials their president to complain. Other games have attempted fourth-wall shattering comedy before, but none have pulled it off as successfully as Deadpool, which leverages an acute knowledge of its fanbase to create a consistently funny experience.
Video game and pop culture references are sandwiched between comic book jokes, which are explained well enough that even someone with only a passing knowledge of the Marvel universe should be able to navigate the story without a problem. Sometimes it simply abandons comic canon in favor of better gameplay, openly acknowledging any plot holes it creates with funny dialogue that chastises you for questioning the story. It's playful and amazingly self-aware, consistently defying expectations with crude jokes and shocking laughs.
Sometimes, humor is established with well-animated cutscenes; other times, it's Nolan North's voice over (of three characters: Deadpool, and the two voices in Deadpool's head) that sells the zany, disturbed hero's presence. High Moon did a great job of pacing the humor, ensuring that un-interactive segments are bookended with fast gameplay.
Combat is bloody and frantic, giving you access to three melee weapons, four guns, and four thrown items, all of which can be mixed and matched on the fly. Knocking an enemy into the air with a sword and then blasting him into pieces with a shotgun is fulfilling, and learning the different combos helps keep the encounters enjoyable for a majority of the game. But while it's fun, you'll likely wish it was a little more complex, or that you'd be able to swap weapons mid-combo (as you can in some other games in the genre) to allow for more fluid combat.
Things do start growing tedious in the later stages of the six-to-eight-hour game. Though upgradable weapons help, they still don't fully compensate for the lack of enemy variety. There are new foes from time to time, sometimes bringing new skills or weapons onto the battlefield. But they're always killed in the same way, infrequently requiring any changes to strategy. This is most apparent during boss battles, which could've been a highlight, as they provide easy moments for poking holes in video game and comic book tropes alike. Instead, they all play out the same, tasking you with strafing in circles while pumping your foe full of bullet holes. They're tedious, and it's a shame that encounters with signature villains are less interesting than the cutscenes that follow their deaths.
But while you might not be interested in finding excuses to continue after you've finished the story, you'll undoubtedly be happy that you experienced Deadpool's ridiculous journey. High Moon Studios has created not only one of the best superhero games, but one of the funniest games you'll ever play--period. Sure, it's low brow and a little heavy on the dick and fart jokes, but... wait, actually, that's not a bad thing. It's a great thing.
This game was reviewed on Xbox 360.