- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Marvel Comics‘ famed homicidal, schizophrenic, potty-mouthed, sexist assassin finally gets his own video game in the third-person slaughter-fest Deadpool (Activision and High Moon Studios, Rated Mature and Moronic, reviewed on Xbox 360, $49.99).

Meet Wade Winston Wilson, a costumed, cancer-riddled mercenary turned into a killing machine after being partly cured by the Weapon X project (thanks to its mutation’s regenerative healing powers) but leaving him permanently scarred and out of his mind.

In comic-book-dom, he arrived in the monthly title New Mutants, No. 98, back in 1991 and is known as the “merc with a mouth.” In this hack-and-slash game, true to his multiple personalities, this clown in a skintight red suit and mask has a trap that never shuts up.

He comments on a player’s inability to succeed in levels (“this is boring”), lets loose with a stream of profanity (fill in the blanks), rambles to friends (baby, you’re the deadest”), and enemies (“if I cut you, do you not bleed?”).

He regurgitates random juvenile thoughts (“imagine if your name was Dick?”) and holds an ongoing conversion with a pair of inner voices — one mischievous (“oh joy, bullets”) and one more rational (“maybe if the player tries to arrange both of the sentinel hands … cough, cough, wink, wink”).

The babbling is brilliantly performed by voice actor Nolan North who spouts off, one of the highlights of the action.

SEE ALSO: Zadzooks: The Last of Us review

Former Deadpool comic book writer Daniel Way allows our raunchy anti-hero to show off his deadly skills in a story of total chaos in which the character sets up a deal to star in his own video game but ends up on a mission to stop X-Men nemesis Mister Sinister from his ever-evolving cloning plan to create genetic perfection.

Skilled in many martial arts as well as bladed weapons, big, loud guns, hammers, explosives and in eating tacos, Deadpool spends much of the game slicing, dicing, decapitating, vivisecting and pulverizing waves of enemies into a bloody mass of yuck.

He also starts to fall apart as he takes damage, a disgusting tribute to the man and his abilities. Specifically, at one key point, I had to find my arm and reattach it to twist my head back in the right direction.

Deadpool rarely dies in the middle of a fight. He not only regenerates health but can teleport short distances (like X-Men’s Nightcrawler) out of harm’s way. That’s a slick trick I never got tired of, and as slick as using a stash of large bear traps to ensnare enemy brutes.

A player also collects cash icons floating around locations to upgrade the assassin’s skills, but ultimately the game revels in the use of button mashing to deliver outrageous, acrobatic and gooey combination moves ad nauseum.

Fans of the X-Men, willing to stick out the obscene amount of death and gore, have much to appreciate as Deadpool runs into old pals such as Wolverine, Rogue, Psylocke and Domino and spends plenty time on the destroyed island of Genosha, a place known for a massacre of millions of mutants by those multistory Sentinels.

Better yet, each time he meets a familiar character, the player gets a sequential-art biography montage featuring lots of memorable artwork culled from the hero or villain in Marvel history.

Priceless moments for the comic-book geek includes helping former partner Cable, slapping an unconscious Wolverine, a queasy rendezvous with Vertigo, using a Sentinel hand to blow a hole in a wall, blowing up clones of Gambit, enjoying a pool party with X-Men babes and dancing with Death.

High Moon Studios delivers the perfect Deadpool experience with game mechanics and visuals sometimes as messed up as its star’s thought processes.

A more sophisticated gamer, not familiar with the obnoxious personality and origin of the anti-hero, won’t quite see much of the humor when dealing with shoddy targeting and pretty rough-looking visuals where frame rate drops, pieces of enemies getting stuck in walls and Deadpool sometimes has a bit of trouble navigating doorways.

However, I can forgive this silliness, as I am a comic-book geek, and at peace with the absolute absurdity of the situations.

One moment I am playing an 8-bit, side-scrolling video game level, the next I’m sliding down a sewer pipe in platforming glory or even taking a break in the action to admire Deadpool’s nifty pirate hat.

One scene, I’m electrocuting Mister Sinister as he performs a series of dance moves, then I’m stuck in a tornado (with cows and a certain home from Kansas swirling about) or helping Deadpool use the bathroom (probably the low point of the game for those willing to stoop — poop — to that level).

To extend the roughly 10-hour story campaign, an additional eight challenges take a player around many of the game’s locations where he faces off against waves of enemies

I’ll admit that after sweating through the emotional drama of Naughty Dog’s recent survival horror epic The Last of Us, I needed a game with a stupid sense of humor and mindless stress release.

Well, devoted Deadpool fans, we have a winner.

Parental advice: The ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), after watching a player remove an impaled Deadpool off of a pipe and then sneak up behind an enemy and blow his legs off with a shotgun, decided to label this game “M” and that stands for mature — gamers only 17 years and older need help Deadpool. So don’t let your 14-year-old convince you that “This is one of Marvel Comics most intense figures, Dad, and this game must be played to appreciate his tragic comic-book life.” This is the type of ridiculously violent and unapologetically sophomoric game that could cause a parent to permanently disassemble their offspring’s favorite entertainment console. As Deadpool’s inner voice of reason stated early on in the action, “If this game had a shame meter, it would be full already.”

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