Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M, for Mature
Grade: 1.5 stars (out of 5)
As much of a comic-book fan as I am, I admit that Deadpool is not my favorite character or one I've spent a ton of time with in the funny pages.
I'm sure his loyal following would gladly walk through the gates of hell for Wade Wilson and his now horribly disfigured and mentally unstable alter ego. And while the video-game adaptation attempts to honor Deadpool with an over-the-top depiction of his gun-and-sword-wielding ways, it gets sucked into a morass of horrible dialogue and clunky controls.
For those unfamiliar with the Marvel Comics character, a series of vignettes sets up his backstory, and the game intersperses cutscenes introducing notable characters like Cable, Wolverine, Death and Psylocke. Nearly every aspect of the game comes coated in a thick glaze of curse words, trite jokes and misogyny. Deadpool's rationale is based more on sheer idiocy and psychotic trauma, not from an at-heart belief that women are just sexual objects. But you'd never understand the complexity of the character based on the abundant foul language and even fouler attempts at comedy. Despite a script by Deadpool comic-book writer Daniel Way, the game's delivery feels tacky and juvenile.
When not running his mouth, our red-and-black-clad superhero mercenary spends the game hacking up and shooting everything in his world. Enemies swarm in from all directions, creating a massive button-mashing game if there ever was one. Deadpool strings together combos using teleportation, and each hand firmly grips either a gun or a fancy katana sword. The nonstop mayhem results in the camera often tracking the action poorly, meaning walls or inanimate objects obstruct your view. It happens enough that you may find yourself spewing foul language suitable for the titular character himself.
For experienced gamers, the action might trigger nostalgia when Deadpool enters areas that play like "Zelda," ''Metroid" or other classic Nintendo titles. These brief respites from the button-mashing monotony lift the game when it needs it most.
Taking a step back, we're left to consider that for a character as beloved as Deadpool, only two significant mainstream appearances of him exist. The first was a hideously executed version by Ryan Reynolds in the almost-unwatchable "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" film; the second, this video game. Neither has showcased the Merc with a Mouth in keeping with his popularity. In fact, both only lessen the chance we'll ever see Deadpool portrayed properly in a gaming universe or otherwise.
(Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @campbler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)