As a comic book fan, I’m not going to deny my immediate interest in almost any videogame adaptation of the Funny Book. Obviously very few have broken beyond the licensed-games-are-horrible threshold, but I’m optimistic most of the time until proven otherwise.
With High Moon’s Deadpool I’m on the fence. I saw the game out at GamesCom last year and it was looking... early
. It showed plenty of promise, but maybe not in the way we -- as gamers -- are used to. That was in August of 2012, and more recently on a jaunt to the States, I got to have another sneak peek at the game as well as see some new stuff beyond what was shown last year.
The game is still looking early
which is worrying given it’s out in a few months, but on the whole, the positive stuff I alluded to above is coming along in spades, and for this alone Deadpool is worth your attention. For the uninitiated, Deadpool is the only Marvel comic book character who is aware he’s in a comic, being read by you. He’s a constant fourth-wall breaker, and as a result is actually hilarious. This is all helped by the fact the character is officially insane and has multiple voices in his head, allowing for the sort of dialogue not possible in other books with other characters.
Deadpool’s actual name is Wade Wilson, and he is a somewhat failed Weapon X experiment (the same experiment that gave Wolverine his adamantium claws and coated his skeleton in the indestructible metal). The failure side of things saw Wade’s face disfigured beyond repair, a facet that is largely attributed to his mental state, and one of the main reasons for his full face mask. The side of the experiment that worked though, means he has an accelerated healing factor that can even regrow lost limbs. He’s capable of dying, to be sure, but it’d take a lot to put the man down.
All of this adds up to a brazen, crazy, balls-out gun-toting madman in a mask -- and it’s in this area High Moon has nailed the game. At this stage it looks like it needs a bit more work on the gameplay side of things, but as far as scripting, voice-acting (ah, Nolan North) and overall tone go, Deadpool is a riot.
It also represents a bold move on Marvel’s part, to let a mature character be just that -- mature. Swearing, gratuitous violence and boobs are just part of the NSFW component to Deadpoool, the way in which it’s delivered though, will have you in stitches most of the time. In fact there’s very little dead air as far as we can tell, with the titular hero(?) never giving up an opportunity to quip, grind or whine his way through a situation. And if conversation isn’t called for, there’s a good chance you’ll catch him humming familiar tunes and maybe even dancing a jig or two, to them.
The new content we were shown featured the recently revealed Cable, with Deadpool, on the island of Genosha. The environment here was particularly striking and bore a solid artistic resemblance to same location in the comics replete with giant Sentinel husks. Part of the disconnect for me, on a gameplay level, is Deadpool’s movement through these highly-detailed vistas. At the moment it just doesn’t look or feel like he’s there. And obviously there’s a good chance this will be ironed out for the final product, but I’m airing a concern -- one I hope High Moon broaches as development of the game closes.
Apart from Cable, there were also a couple of other guest appearances from X-Men alumni, though one in particular we were asked nicely to withhold, which I’m happy to do because I hate spoilers as much as the next man, but as a comics fan I’ll at least tell you from the game’s main villain, his support characters and Deadpool’s unlikely allies, you’re not going to be disappointed if you’re a fan of his or the X-Men’s universe at all.
Which leads me to my next point: High Moon, please get this right. After Batman, it’s become increasingly more difficult to swallow lacklustre games built around universes and characters ripe for the videogame setting. I’ve explored this already in great detail
. And while you’ve nailed the Deadpool character, it’s not specifically enough to get players through to the end, and it certainly shouldn’t be a bitter end, either. Deadpool has everything a videogame character could need to be successful: an arsenal of awesome weapons, incredible melee combat abilities and a healing factor that promotes classic run-and-gun gameplay for the more ballsy players out there. His wit and myriad enemies list is just a bonus really, as is his relationship to the likes of the X-Men, so on paper there’s no reason you should fail at this delivery.
Hopefully when the game drops, with all its excellent fourth-wall breaking script and all-star support cast, it’ll also come packaged with an engaging story and enough exploitation of the character’s videogame-perfect arsenal, to not become another negative statistic in poor licensed game development. Both of the last two Transformers games were solid (the first maybe a bit more than the last), and at least offered enough of a hope for the likes of me that High Moon were the right studio to dabble in Wade’s world. Add to this the idea that they chose
Deadpool from a list of other license opportunities and have been able to get the most mature version of the character they could over the Marvel line, and that optimism I mentioned earlier is bolstered to the nines. Now they just need to hit it out of the park and not strike out.