If you heard Rocksteady Studios at any point in the last decade, you knew what you were getting. This notion remains true today despite the lacklustre reception Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has garnered since being revealed. For a good reason, the community has been less than enthusiastic about Rocksteady’s shift from an open-world single-player title to a game as a service model.
In 2024, GaaS does not work. There isn’t enough momentum to convince me otherwise, and if video games like Destiny are struggling to retain users, then something brand new will likely bleed users a lot faster than an established IP. Even Rocksteady, who single-handedly rewrote the book on superhero stories in video games, could not make it work. I like Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, but it is an underwhelming pastiche of what came before.
Take On the Justice League
The setup and premise of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a highlight, with the characters staying true to their portrayal in the films and comics. The actors behind these characters have delivered solid performances, with Debra Wilson’s portrayal of Amanda Waller being particularly noteworthy and consistent with the character. The late Kevin Conroy’s performance as The Dark Knight is especially impressive and considered one of his last great performances. Additionally, the performances of the Suicide Squad members themselves were natural, with Tara Strong’s Harley Quinn being a standout among the bunch.
Although the plot of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League does get a bit out of hand, I wouldn’t necessarily call it bad. I think we’ll see a bunch of mixed takes, but kudos to the studio for trying something new. Nonetheless, some highly cringe-worthy lines of dialogue will leave you disappointed or satisfied, depending on who you are. Either way, you’ll have much fun because the gameplay isn’t bad (mostly).
The plot of Suicide Squad involves the four main characters: Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, and Captain Boomerang – fighting against the Justice League, which Brainiac has taken over. This storyline could have made for an excellent comic book. However, the concept also has potential as a video game. Despite this, Suicide Squad occasionally struggles to execute this premise effectively and has difficulty showcasing the events as they unfold.
Suicide Squad features a group of anti-heroes who are given enough space to interact with each other in a way that matches the tone of other Suicide Squad stories. It’s a very violent, irreverent, and goofy game, but that’s precisely what we should expect from a group of expendable characters trying to save the world and shave time off their prison sentence.
Suicide Squad Struggles To Find An Identity
All four playable characters are iconic in their own way, and the last several years have built them up to be a lot more recognizable. Whether in film or television, these characters have many personalities and feature unique weapons that make them stand out. So, it’s a bit disappointing that Rocksteady instead made the four anti-heroes feel almost identical when playing as them. I would have preferred to see each character feel and play differently, and Gotham Knightsdid an excellent job differentiating the Batfamily and how they handled it. It’s deflating that the bottom line is that you should only worry about dishing out damage with guns and explosives rather than allow these characters to flourish and stand out. Even with some signature moves and moves to traverse Metropolis, there’s a heavy-handed reliance on shooting guns.
What makes me question when the focus shifted to a live service title happened at Rocksteady because the writing is so brilliant at times that it conflicts with the gameplay. You get a stellar narrative filled with Rocksteady’s signature beats, which go against everything the gameplay tells you. What should have likely been a single-player story experience with multiple characters is now shoehorned with microtransactions and misfires in execution.
A fast pace and constant action characterize the gameplay of Suicide Squad, as the player moves quickly around the Metropolis and engages enemies with a steady stream of bullets. This contrasts with the more systematic approach of the Arkham games, where players often waited for enemies to make the first move before launching counters. Compare that to the Arkham series, which wants you to be reactive to the enemies around you, and it feels like a tonal shift. Overall, the gameplay is impressive, although some players may prefer the slower pace of the Arkhamseries.
Suicide Squad’s traversal mechanics stand out more than the use of guns. The four members of the squad have unique methods of moving around Metropolis. Harley utilizes Batman’s Bat Drone and grapples to swing around, Deadshot has a jetpack, King Shark can jump, and Boomerang has a Speed Force gauntlet. While they all work similarly, each character has a distinct feel that connects to the combat. Traversal may have seemed unremarkable during the campaign’s initial stages, but it ramps up in later stages.
Combat and traversal mechanics are designed to work in tandem. However, there are a few issues that prevent this from happening smoothly. One such issue is the limitations imposed on the traversal items, which can hinder the overall experience. But the more significant problem is the enemies with particular weaknesses that require specific strategies to defeat them. This can lead to a frustrating and chaotic experience, especially when the game throws multiple enemies at the player, leaving them without a proper solution to tackle the situation.
Also, each character has their own unique set of skills and weapons that they can use. However, no one character can use everything available. So, depending on the situation, you may find that certain characters work better for you than others. Luckily, you can easily switch between characters whenever you want, so you can experiment with different characters and find your favourites. Plus, there’s a lot of loot to discover, so you’ll want to try out other characters to find out what works best for you.
The UI is also a mess and cluttered, often leaving you overwhelmed by the number of objects vying for your attention on the screen. Sure, there are options to minimize elements and make it more streamlined, but ultimately, it doesn’t do enough to make this setup viable. Imagine trying to take on a group of enemies while a cluster of numbers flies across the screen, and then you have various icons popping on the screen to indicate information.
There’s also the issue that much of what we see in-game hardly hits home or elevates the story. The narrative is good, but it’s often too goofy, and even with the cutscenes showing some incredible tech powering each character — it goes to waste because the narrative feels at odds with the gameplay, which creates further dissonance.
Once credits roll, you’re officially in the post-game of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. It’s about precisely what you’d expect of a game struggling with an identity from a single-player studio. Many missions are rehashes of missions you’ve already completed. Entering Elseworlds, you’ll begin to see the plan for post-launch content as various worlds and characters are coming. There’s not enough content to keep me invested in the current content, and variety is lacking, so expect to do many of the same things repeatedly to earn a new currency.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League features excellent performances and showcases why live service games are challenging to invest time into. It’s hard enough to make a video game, but it’s impossibly more complicated to create ongoing content for something the developer isn’t generally known for. Despite an engaging story and sound mechanics, the missions fall flat, the tone is uneven, and the UI is messy. I had fun playing as the entire squad, but ultimately, I would have preferred a single-player story focusing on the better elements that showcase Rocksteady’s incredible talents.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Review: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League features excellent performances and showcases why live service games are challenging to invest time into.