Deadpool
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6.33
8.6
Is this a bounce house or a bouncy castle?

I may as well come right out and say it, even if it causes a storm of controversy: Comedy games are rarely good games. Too often the veneer of hilarity is used to mask a pustulant core of averageness.

Almost always. There are some notable exceptions, particularly anything Tim Schafer has touched. Deadpool though? Well, it's no Grim Fandango.

Nope, underneath the comedy is the same third-person action game you played last month, and the month before that. running, jumping, tiredly clicking or keyboarding through a series of bland combos, which can be made more complex, if not particularly more enjoyable, through the inevitable unlockable power-up system. So far, so cut-and-pasted from every other action game ever. Hordes of gun-toting bad guys, the occasional boss fight (which add a refreshing layer of frustration to what is otherwise a not overly challenging game), the illusion of choice in what is actually a rail-led game... I think I've wasted your time enough here.

So it lives and dies on the hilariousness of its gags and the cleverness of its repartee. And the whole thing starts off fairly well. Deadpool is a costumed super-weirdo somewhere in between hero and villain, like something of a court jester for the Marvel universe. He has three different personalities you see, and the game focuses around his being entirely aware he's in a videogame. He makes regular calls to the devs, usually to moan about stuff, and the whole thing is terribly meta. At the very start of the game you get a Steam achievement and Deadpool just points down at where the little pop-up is and comments on it - quite a clever, fourth-wall breaking joke that helps draw you in to the silly humor. Lots of fun is had with Steam achievements actually, to fairly good effect.

The thing is, while the dialogue is relentless and occasionally inspired, it is for the most part not enough to hide the lack of a good game behind it all.

Deadpool is a super-guy who can regenerate from his wounds and teleport. In game terms this means you get your health back over time (like every videogame character since Call of Duty 2) and have various moves based around your teleportation, which is like a short-range dash. Controls as they stand are assigned in a bemusing hodge-podge (such as the 'U' let for use, a commonly-needed command, in what is otherwise a WASD-based control scheme), and reassigning keys is an unnecessarily complex headache. Thus, particularly at first, Deadpool doesn't really feel all that super as you struggle with the controls. Then it all falls into place - all you need to do is just stand around in the midst of the bad guys, hitting the teleport button (which does double-duty as a counter button, and is far too important to be keyed to the 'B' key). With this staggeringly simplistic tactic most melee battles become time wasting more than really fun. In fact, despite the awesome brokenness of this tactic I soon stopped using it, preferring instead to hunt for a more fun approach.

Gunplay is a little better, but even then no real cover system and little in the way of interesting weapons or foes means its life expectancy is pretty short. If Deadpool flees from combat and keeps firing he can be made to fire his pistols behind his head as he runs, in a pretty funny way. Weapons themselves can all be upgraded, albeit for the most part in tiresomely familiar ways... more ammo, more damage, faster rate of fire. There is usually an unlockable combo in there as well, but it's not really enough to make you really care that much. Grenades and the like are available and work tolerably well, but all these weapons and stuff sort of detract from the superhero feel of the thing. You're just a tough guy, with a bunch of weapons, killing pretty much anyone who comes along. Sure, comic book purists might say that's in keeping with the character but if that's the case, maybe he's not a wonderful choice for a videogame?

So is it funny? Occasionally, a little. Is it novel? In the way it plays with accepted videogame concepts, sure. In the way it plays, not even slightly. Above all though - is it fun? This is the primary consideration. Well, I'm afraid not, really. High Moon Studios have been feted in recent years for their action games, but I have to say Is be surprised to see Deadpool taking any awards.

Oversized fierpower - Check.