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Previews

Deadpool: The Game - babes, blood-letting and in-jokes

Is High Moon's spin on the loony ninja a Marvel or a meathead?

He may look like a ninja, but this Marvel Comics antihero is more than your average mercenary. For one, he packs everything from swords to machineguns to a teleportation device - all backed by a Wolverine-class healing factor that makes him virtually unkillable. Which could be why the so-called Merc with a Mouth flings quips like verbal grenades, poking fun at friends, enemies, and even the fact that he's a character in a comic book.

Moreover, he's a serious nutjob - but in an endearing way. When he's not obsessing over Golden Girls and chimichangas, he's listening to the voices waging war in his head... or succumbing to some of the most bizarre hallucinations a pop-culture-lovin' hero could have. It's a crazy mix that opens up immense opportunities for a Deadpool videogame.

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For starters, he knows he's in a videogame. Our exclusive demo picks up a little bit into the campaign, in an open room, with Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson) telling us, "Sorry, player... you're just going to have to figure out how this game works yourself." It's a gleeful little twist on the usual tutorial sequence, and it culminates in something even more random: our finding and inflating a colourful bouncy castle. Why? We'll find out soon enough...

Before long, we've busted into the offices of the Great White News network. It seems we've been hired to take down CEO Chance White, who's somehow linked to the game's overarching villain, a longtime Marvel/X-Men baddie whom we can't reveal. Reaching our target means massacring White's army of armoured goons. Combat is incredibly bloody and 18-rated - vaguely reminiscent of Raven's 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but even more over-the-top violent. Quickly switching between weapons (using the D-pad), our demo guide slashes some hapless minions with a sword while shooting others with twin pistols; dismembered limbs and crimson blood splatters are a frequent sight.

Up on the rooftop, we board an attacking helicopter and use its mounted gun to mow down more enemies and another chopper, before escaping the damaged vehicle via a slow-mo, Michael Jordan-style leap (seen from a cinematic side view). Besides being one of countless funny references in the game, it supports the notion that Deadpool's an untouchable badass -a sense that's only bolstered by our ability to teleport short distances during battle to get the drop on foes, Nightcrawler-style.

This segment ends with us making our way into Chance's penthouse, where, after hearing Deadpool wonder aloud how much C4 it would take to bust into his panic room, we decide to cover the entire door with explosives and blast our way through. One quick conversation later, we've punched him off the roof and are straddling him as we hurtle through the sky. How will we survive the fall? Hmmm, that bouncy castle looks pretty soft...

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Wilder and wilder
We see more of Deadpool's fast, ruthless combat in scenes from later in the game, on the island of Genosha. A once-peaceful mutant nation that's now in ruins, Genosha's been inhabited by the game's villain and his legions of cloned minions, including some shirtless hulks who can take a major beating. Performing combos builds up Deadpool Points which you can cash in for new abilities and weapons, including twin hammers that are used to pound opponents to a pulp. Like every weapon, they have an unlockable execution move -in this case, smashing someone's knee with one hammer, then swinging the other hammer like a golf club to whack your crippled foe off-screen.

What's most striking about this part of the demo, though, are the constant glimpses into our hero's demented mind. Deadpool banters throughout the whole game, making random, Spider-Man-style gags ("Soylent Green is people!") and even breaking the fourth wall by directly addressing the player, as he does in the comics. Plus, he talks to himself, with two distinct voices often arguing, correcting each other, and commenting on what's going on. We're always a bit wary of chatty game characters -if done poorly, they can wear on you fast -but the still-in-progress dialogue already has its share of funny moments, with ubiquitous voice actor Nolan North enthusiastically delivering Deadpool's multiple voices. (In a nice little in-joke, you hear him say: "Let's roll out!" "Uhh, wrong franchise, buddy.")

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