Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League

Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League

The heroes we deserve, but not the ones we need.

Where do we start with Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League – an open world action game set in Metropolis featuring DC Comics most beloved characters?  Developed by the studio that redefined the superhero genre with the Arkham trilogy’s story telling?  Decidedly polarised the player base with the early reveals showing it was a co-op focused, Games as a Service model?  Should I be cutting it some slack due to the pedigree; or ripping it a new one for not being the missing Superman game that got leaked years ago?  If we were looking for nothing except vitriol driven views to the site then clearly it’d be the latter, but it’s tough to figure out what stance to take because there is actually a decent game hidden under the GaaS layers.  Rocksteady bring their A-game with the characterisation, mechanics and story telling (up to a point anyway), and Warner Bros lend the clout to round up the cast and budget.  It’s almost too big to fail, yet it really doesn’t nail what gamers want and that’s going to be bad news for developer, producer and fans alike.  However, should the game be so quickly dismissed as a write off?  We probably need a reference point to work that one out… where are you Gotham Knights?  Your time is nigh.

On a plus side, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is set in the Arkham-verse and follows on some 5 years after the events of Arkham Knight.  The story you’re dropped into is that of four misfit supervillains that have been co-opted by Amanda Waller to head out into Metropolis and kill all the members of the Justice League.  Things haven’t gone well for the world’s favourite superheroes, and The Flash, Green Lantern, Batman and Superman have all been turned by Brainiac who’s invaded the city and set about conquering the population.  Ultimately he wants to terraform the Earth and needs their help to subjugate the citizens and put down any resistance.  Normal soldiers are not going to cut the mustard in this fight and it’s up to Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang and King Shark to be released from Arkham Asylum and forced to work together to do Waller’s bidding.  Failure to comply will result in her detonating the microbombs implanted in their necks and ending their short-lived freedoms abruptly.  With no choice, no clue, and no coordination they hop, swing and jump their way around the deserted city in an attempt to find survivors and figure out just how they’re going to tackle the most powerful beings on the planet.  Plenty of familiar faces are dotted around to throw in their two pence, and a few new characters grab the opportunity to get into the limelight, though really it’s the Suicide Squad themselves that are front and centre throughout.

The structure is pretty basic: you control one of the four titular characters either on your own or with a group of online players – it’s not really any different whichever route you take except the AI will do some of the heavy lifting if you’re playing solo – selecting who you want to be before picking a mission, then whipping out to the map marker to smack down some of Brainiac’s goons.  This isn’t a game that brings the ability to swap characters at any time, it’s a considered selection depending on what the objective required is, though it’s a game in the 2020’s so it’ll handhold you through that process for the entire time you spend playing.  Obviously, Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is a co-op shooter at its core and therefore it would be a nonsense to be able to jump at will between the team, though it does feel that maybe that wouldn’t have been a bad idea in the single player mode… much like not being always online for that too.  Aside from the co-op consideration, part of sticking with Deadshot, Harley, Boomerang or King Shark is that playing as each character builds the XP and works on levelling them up, and that’s pretty critical for progression.  Again, it forces a choice on whether you want to experience what everyone is capable of, or decide to specialise.  With them all having different traversal mechanics and unique abilities there’s definitely a try-before-you-buy feel where sampling the full roster helps you work out who you want to spend the most time with.  Spoiler, it’ll be Deadshot or King Shark, they’re simply the easiest to get to grips with, and the least frustrating for getting around.

Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League makes a big thing initially of teaching you the basics of locomotion, and it is important as movement and combat go hand in hand, though it’s not the most intuitive to put into practice.  Maybe because flitting between the main players means you have to re-teach yourself the move set each time, but it’s probably because whatever you do to jump or fly, you still need to shoot everything that moves.  This switches it all over to a third person shooter with occasional punching and sliding, and maybe a special move with quips and extra gore.  After an hour you will pretty much have seen what the game has to offer – go to point A, shoot things until they stop, go to point B, protect something for a period of time, repeat for the next half a day.  A semi-monotonous flow of activity is there to open up shop items and increase abilities until you’re ready to take on the proper challenges of the game, the Justice League themselves.  Even then, those encounters are driven more by the story and McGuffins you collect in cutscenes rather than how proficient you are with an assault rifle and shotgun.  It’s a touch disappointing as it feels at times that you don’t really have any bearing on the character improvement, and if like me you sampled them all repeatedly, you’ll not level any up a significant degree during the runtime.  However, it doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be found.

Those expecting Batman levels of physical combat won’t find anything like that in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, yet Rocksteady do deliver a solid control scheme that’s reliable, tactile and tuned to work in most circumstances.  Traversal might be different for Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang, but shooting an alien in the face or rearranging their torso with a melee weapon are the same button presses for everyone.  Most crucially, the boss battles are quite spectacular and with the way the story beats build and the corrupted League makes appearances to taunt and thwart the Squad’s plans, it makes taking them down very, very satisfying.  First up is the Flash and it takes a while to get to him, but when it’s done you’ll be trash talking along with Boomerang because Rocksteady have absolutely gone all out on making them despicable.  The characterisation is superb for almost everyone you encounter, good and bad, and the only let down is the big bad Brainiac himself, which is largely linked to the choice of creating ongoing end game content rather than the climax of the tale.  For all the live service features you’ll spot a mile off, there’s a surprising amount of cutscenes to settle in to watch that would give early Kojima a run for his money.  There’s also a lot of humour and constant banter that’s context sensitive so when you’re simply heading around Metropolis it’s never quiet.  That’s a good thing too as there’s very little happening in the city outside the odd alien patrol and the Riddler getting up to his old tricks.

Initially the city of Metropolis doesn’t feel that expansive – it really doesn’t take long to swing from one side of the map to the other.  However, as you go deeper in towards Brainiac’s strongholds you find that it’s quite vertical, and there are a lot of underpasses, overpasses, narrow streets and interesting buildings that connect to make for an interesting playground.  They are all easy to overlook when you’re leaping 200 ft in the air as a man-sized shark god, but they do exist.  Spend some time taking in the sights and you’ll spot all sorts of details with nods to the series, the DC universe, and the way the city feels about the heroes; as well as a wonderful homage to the three preceding Arkham games.  Then there’s Edward Nigma’s contributions again as he challenges you to find specific locations from his clues, complete challenges, and collect the Riddler trophies.  It’s all familiar stuff.  You can’t shake the feeling that it’s dead though.  There’s no life outside the invaders, and whilst there’s some bunkum spouted about why there’s desiccated corpses  all over the place, and the odd reference to survivors staying indoors, it doesn’t feel lived in and therefore doesn’t compel you to stop and take it all in.  No matter how good the environmental design is.  Fast travel doesn’t really feature either, mainly because there’s no real need with everything so close, yet it is available to head back to your base at the Hall of Heroes.

Hiding away from prying eyes – even though everyone knows where you all are – the Hall of Heroes is the central hub for upgrading weapons and buffs, and it’s in here that the game really starts to lose coherence.  Not too long into the action you start getting loot drops which consist of guns, shields, melee weapons and other pieces of tech.  There are quite a few types and many are specific to characters so aren’t really any good for sharing.  There’s the option to take these, buy new items, imbue weapons with abilities, or re-roll the stats on existing kit.  Everything costs differing amounts of differing currencies, of which there are 6 types and no explanation of what any of them are, why they’re are needed, or where to get them.  They’re essentially there for crafting, but f$^&ed if I know what the point of them is given you can completely ignore them for most of the game.  The only currency that really does make a difference is the end game resource required to start playing in the multiverse, and that’s the one they’ve monetised so you can guess it’s critical and comes in small amounts when farming it.  It’s like Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League just doesn’t know what it wanted to be at this point, maybe taking too many cues from Borderlands, but we’re not in this world for the guns, the stats or even the RPG mechanics.  It’s purely bloat that gets in the way of enjoying what you should be doing – exploring and kicking ass.

Whilst I’ve mentioned a few times about the story and characters, I need to keep talking about them because it’s where Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League really excels.  There’s a high level of polish gone into making each of the crew feel fully fleshed out and relatable.  Different motivations, grudges and sensibilities are apparent with each and the way the team dynamic is woven between the four works really well when in context.  Of course, it’s quite easy to break out of this when you’re in control, but letting the cutscenes play and the personalities come to the fore and you can see the glimpses of what Rocksteady were trying to deliver.  Chief amongst everything is the wonderful Batman portrayal by Kevin Conroy, and there’s a fitting tribute to the late voice actor.  None of the other talent are slouches though and there’s a huge amount of vigour poured into Harley and Boomerang.  Deadshot is maybe a bit understated, though that’s his character, and King Shark might as well be Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy, though that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable on screen.  Likewise the “heroes” are embodied brilliantly and Nolan North dials his skills up by delivering the lines of two totally opposing characters without any hint of it being the same bloke behind them.  Bravo.  It’s a pretty sublime looking game too with a steady framerate, good use of colour and little in the way of loading or pop-in to distract from the action.  My only technical gripe is the need to be signed in and online for single player, meaning that it’s all too easy to have it crash coming out of rest mode and you have to wait an age for a reconnection.  No progress is lost at least, but surely we need to be serviced better given it’s a decade or more of the function being on consoles and PCs.

Conclusion time, and it’s back to the Gotham Knights comparison from the opening because it’s the last DC Comics inspired co-op open world brawler Warner Bros. put out… recently a friend asked if it was worth dropping £10 on that, and as they’re a die hard Batman fan I’d thought about it for a few mins.  It’s a no.  Categorically, don’t spend your money on it, only disappointment lies in that direction.  What about Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League though?  It’s a yes, surprisingly.  Maybe be more considered with your purchase and only spend what you are willing to part with on it, but there’s an engaging story at its heart, the traversal and combat can be fun, and the Justice League fights are satisfying and all the more rewarding when you win due to how particularly noxious the metahumans are.  The production values are superb, and even if Metropolis is a tad confusing in it’s vertical layout to begin with, it all makes sense the more you play.  Just be aware of the lacklustre variety of mission types and the requirement to sink hours – and maybe even cash – into the end game.  When you know what you’re in for, and maybe have set your expectations lower than usual, there’s a chance it might surprise you and (whisper it in case it hears) occasionally impress.

A PS5 review copy of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League was provided by Warner Bros. PR team, and the game is available now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC for around £70 with, currently at least, a slate of season content coming in the next few months.

The Verdict


The Good: Characterisation | Quality of presentation | Solid control feel | Genuinely great to beat down the Justice League

The Bad: Repetitive | GaaS model just doesn’t gel with the story focus | Whimpers out to accommodate the end game

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Co-founder & Editor at Codec Moments

Gamer, F1 fanatic, one half of the Muddyfunkrs DJ duo (find us over on Hive Radio UK), MGS obsessed, tech geek.

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