Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is finally actually out. After years of trailers, delays, leaks, controversies, and a gameplay reveal with reception so disastrous it caused Rocksteady and WB to delay the game by a year, it’s finally out.
BEST GAMES ON
Where can you play Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League?
The game is now available on PC (Steam), PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.
As tends to be the case with releases like this, especially ones based on big-name IP with large fandoms, the narrative that has formed around the game is as large and epic as the biggest superhero films.
There are people who want Suicide Squad to crash and burn, while others have been convinced it’s going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sadly, as with most modern superhero films, the ending to this story is a bit anticlimactic and middling.
The best way to get through the positives and negatives of this game is to walk you through my own personal arc with it. This is going to be long-winded and self-indulgent so you may want to sit down.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League review
To preface this, I am an enjoyer of loot-driven RPGs, shooters, and superhero games. I’m someone who managed to find a modicum of fun in Marvel’s Avengers, a game that, by all metrics, was a massive flop.
So naturally, I was rooting for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League from the moment it was announced. The first gameplay reveal looked fun to me, and the closed alpha I played last year only confirmed that notion. Indeed, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is not the abject disaster that some were expecting it to be.
Visually, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is an absolute stunner. Rocksteady have leveraged Unreal Engine 4 to deliver a city that is packed to the gills with detail and a great degree of verticality that naturally lends itself to the game’s high-flying movement. Yet, the vast majority of your time with the game will be spent on rooftops, as the streets go woefully underutilised.
Character models are painstakingly detailed, and facial animations are frankly the best I’ve seen outside of first-party console exclusives. Character faces convey life-like emotions, especially with their eyes as their gaze darts around telling you who they’re looking at, conveying all manner of micro-expressions that convey what’s left unsaid in the dialogue. It’s genuinely industry-leading stuff.
It’s fun to jump, jetpack, swing, and warp around the invasion-riddled Metropolis. Most open world games give you a single traversal method that’s fun to do for hours, yet Rocksteady have somehow created four that are so good I genuinely can’t pick a favourite.
Every member of the squad feels like they’re from a different game. King Shark can sprint, run up walls, and clear massive distances in a single leap that reminds me of playing Prototype or Crackdown. Deadshot’s untethered jetpack-enabled flight takes me back to the best moments of Anthem. Captain Boomerang’s stop-and-start blinks and sprints make me think I’ve discovered a hidden sequel to inFamous: Second Son. And Harley Quinn’s grapple and drone combo makes her feel like a Robin in training.
The most welcome surprise of the traversal is that it’s genuinely challenging. There are very strict limits to how long you can be airborne before you have to come back to ground, and maintaining your momentum requires a degree of planning and moment-to-moment improvisation where you’re constantly figuring out where to land and combining your aerial moves with wallruns and slides to maintain speed. After so much complaining about the lack of challenge in the traversal of Marvel’s Spider-Man and its sequel, this feels like a genuine breath of fresh air.
Although this also means that the traversal is trickier than most might expect and, from what I’ve heard around the internet, has a learning curve that most people either weren’t able to, or didn’t want to overcome.
Each character doesn’t just have their own moveset, but also their own control scheme. This means if you’re going to keep switching between them, you have four different control schemes. For example, both Boomerang and King Shark can perform an air dash, but they’re mapped to L1 for Boomerang and R1+X for King Shark. It all makes sense when you get to grips with it, but it’s a steep learning curve.
When you get to the actual combat, the guns you use are punchy and satisfying. The game’s arsenal has been split across the squad so you have to specialise no matter who you pick. Deadshot and Boomerang can use sniper rifles, while Harley and Shark can both use heavy weapons and powerful melee attacks.
Much like movement, however, the combat is deceptively deep, full of interlocking systems that might take hours to click (if at all) for most people.Your melee attack isn’t so much an ‘attack’ as it’s a way to pop enemies in the air to juggle them with your guns for guaranteed critical hits. This will become your go-to method if you want to get through battles quickly, until Rocksteady starts introducing varying enemy types that all require different methods to take down.
Snipers have to be “counter shot”, brutes have to be weakened with grenades before you can take them down, shielded enemies have to be melee’d before you can damage them, etc. You even have a two-button takedown called “suicide strike” as well as a bespoke traversal move (basically an ultimate) for each character to spice things up.
Some late game battles will throw a large number of varying enemy types, all of which have very specific weaknesses, which can get overwhelming. But in its best moments, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will see you enter a flow state not unlike the freeflow combat of the Batman: Arkham series. It’s a hell of a good time.
It helps that the combat is as good as it is, because the mission variety is abysmally bad. If you’re interested in Suicide Squad, you better hope you can enjoy 15-20 hours of capturing and defending points, fighting waves of enemies, and rescuing civilians. Because that’s essentially all there is.
The entire campaign is built around these handful of mission types repeated over and over, but with different narrative context. Need to find where Batman is hiding? Go defend a thing while your support squad hacks a terminal. Need to steal some tech that might help you fight Green Lantern? Go defend a thing while someone else steals it off screen. Need Penguin’s help with something? Go rescue some people before he agrees to help you.
Around halfway through the campaign, you’re asked to do an escort mission where you protect a slow-moving truck from waves of enemies. As much as I think escort missions are the worst, I was positively thrilled to have something other than the same handful of objectives. Of course, after this point, escort missions get added to the pool of repeated mission types and, yes, they’re still the worst.
If it’s any consolation, the story backing all of this up is actually pretty great. The premise is simple: an alien invader has mind-controlled the Justice League, turning them into mustache-twirling villains, and it’s up to Harley, Deadshot, King Shark, and Captain Boomerang to find a way to take them down and thwart the invasion.
The performances are life-like, backed up by sharp and witty dialogue, and some pretty strong character arcs. The game is essentially an action comedy, carried less by the plot and more by the strong character writing. King Shark’s general (intentional) blandness is punched up by a strong pun game and a few really smart put-downs.
Captain Boomerang never evolves beyond comic relief, but also doesn’t need to. Deadshot is essentially the straight-man foil to his zany friends, while Harley Quinn is everything you expect: unpredictable, impulsive, and a little bit sad. Over the course of the campaign, these nutters go from being annoying idiots to lovable idiots.
The Justice League, meanwhile, make for surprisingly compelling villains, given their inherent and widely documented heroism. It’s not unlike watching The Boys, where any time one of them is in a scene, I’m scared for every other character. In fact, Rocksteady has done a fantastic job of stripping every character of their plot armour, which leads to some genuinely shocking developments in the second half.
All of this is let down in a big way by the fact that this is a live-service game. Which means it is, by design, a story without an ending. I’m not going to spoil exactly how, but near the end of the campaign you’re informed that the final boss is actually several final bosses that you’ll have to kill to finally save the day. To do this, you will have to engage with Suicide Squad’s endgame which involves… doing the same missions you’ve been doing over and over to chase better loot.
The story ends on a somewhat triumphant note with our squad proving they’re more than just dirtbags, but instead of letting them finally rest, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League basically dooms them to an eternity of battle before their mission is truly over, if ever. It feels like an extremely sour note to end what I thought was a pretty good superhero story. Which feels emblematic of the game as a whole, honestly.
With all said and done, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is… fine. It’s not the disaster most people were expecting, but it’s also not great. And “fine”, by Rocksteady’s standards, is essentially a disaster. It’s a game that swims in mediocrity, which I can’t imagine is anywhere near what the developers wanted it to be. These characters, and especially this dev team deserves something better than what amounts to a resounding… meh.
Writer, artist, musician, or photographer depending on whom you ask. Fan of RPGs and music you haven’t heard of.