There have been many split opinions about Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League before its release. Some trust Rocksteady to deliver an experience worthy of rivaling the heights reached by the acclaimed Batman: Arkham Saga. Others don't like the concept of having to seemingly kill DC's most iconic heroes in one single project. And almost everyone has been wary about the live service components of this 70-dollar game. So now that we had the chance to play it and complete is campaign, we need to answer the question: was the wait worth it? And don't worry, we won't be diving into major spoiler territory just in case you're still trying to figure out whether this video game is for you or not.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League had a bad reputation almost since its initial reveal. However, I went into it with an open mind, knowing Rocksteady built its amazing reputation by carefully crafting breathtaking games around iconic DC characters. They definitely know what needs to be done to tell a unique superhero story that respects its source material. So it's unfortunate that the same care and love that was put in the Batman: Arkham Saga was (mostly) nowhere to be found here. Is this the worst game ever made? Not in the slightest. I did have fun with it and a few missions were more than good; they were great. But this is a very shallow experience that, overall, feels soul-less and lacks a clear identity.
A very generic experience
Warning signs become evident since the very first mission. Before Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was released, Rocksteady conducted a closed alpha tech test where enrolled players had a small taste of the game, allowing them to give feedback along the way. Much to my surprise, the alpha test started with a very generic tutorial that made me feel as if I was playing an early 2000s video game. At the time, I didn't give it importance, since I really thought that such a dull mission was surely made just for the alpha demo, but it turns out that's how the final product kicks things off.
"Parry five enemies attacks to advance to the next section".
"Throw three bombs to advance to the next section".
"Kill ten enemies and grab the shield they drop to advance to the next section"
... You get the idea.
So why is this important? After all, you might think it's just the introductory section that plays out that way. Well, it turns out that, much like its tutorial, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League never attempts to do something memorable throughout the rest of its campaign either (boss fights excluded, that is). That's not to say the overall game is bad. But it is, indeed, as generic as they get.
Take Marvel's Spider-Man 2 as an example, a recently released superhero game that did the exact opposite. It kicks things off with a bang, with players having to face a giant Sandman boss fight that takes place across multiple arenas and with all sorts of environmental destruction occurring along the way. Insomniac's latest Spider-Man game teaches you its basics in a very natural and "flowy" manner without ever making you feel like you're just checking a rigid list of objectives. From that starting moment, you get the feeling that the rest of the game will be as epic (if not more) as its beginning. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, and it all comes down to how the game is structured.
Tedious mission structure with a solid story
Almost every single mission in Rocksteady's latest project plays one of the following ways:
- Protect something or someone from enemies for a certain amount of time.
- Protect something or someone from enemies while it reaches its destination.
- Kill all enemies in the area (sometimes for a certain amount of rounds).
- Kill all enemies in the area (sometimes for a certain amount of rounds) BUT use only a certain type of attack.
It's baffling how most of the time it comes down to one of those four options (that, let's be honest, are almost identical between them) even when the story wants to play out differently. The game recognizes this problem and will even display a text at the end of a mission that reads something along the following lines:
"Somehow we killed a bunch of guys and that'll help us stop Flash being fast? We kinda missed the details"
Rocksteady knows there isn't a logical connection between killing aliens and making the Flash slower for a chance at killing him. However, most missions in the game feel the unnecessary need to be constrained to just one of the options listed above, and so the dots need to be connected somehow. The only two times that the game decides to do something different (aside from the boss fights) it truly shines. There's a section involving Batman hunting every member of the squad down, and it plays phenomenally. If there was even the slightest mission variety along the way, then the whole game could've been more memorable. Especially when you take into account that the story itself is solid.
Granted, you shouldn't expect Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League to have as many twists and turns as Batman: Arkham City, for example. But the short and simple story it tells is good. Best of all, it manages to capture the essence of every member of the Suicide Squad, and it gives them all a chance to shine on their own. There's no deep character development or a lot of complexity to the narrative, but it provides a fully cohesive experience that leaves enough doors open for post-campaign content. Besides, some moments (especially the ones that involve Wonder Woman) are really, really exhilarating.
Fun combat and traversal
Now, where Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League truly manages to shine is in its fun, free-flowy traversal and explosive combat. Games that feature many playable characters at the same time risk having them control the same. Such was the case with Marvel's Avengers, just to give an example. However, there's a big difference between moving throughout the city as Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and King Shark.
I personally loved flying through the city in a jetpack as Deadshot, but I've seen a lot of people enjoy how Captain Boomerang uses the speed force to go from place to place. There's something for everyone's liking in terms of traversal, and that's great. At least, in this aspect, there is a degree of variety present in the game.
Combat is also fun and explosive, even if it risks being a little bit messy. The shooting feels tight and responsive while having a few layers to it like adding the ability to freeze enemies. Besides, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League does an amazing job of incentivizing you to be on the move when fighting. Otherwise, enemies will overwhelm you pretty easily.
The perfect merging of traversal and combat allows for a fun experience that makes repetitive missions feel more digestible than they really are. Besides, the best part about the combat comes when facing the Justice League itself.
Mostly great boss fights with one HUGE exception
Storywise, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League did absolutely nothing to convince me Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark could take on the likes of the Flash or other iconic DC heroes. But leaving that skepticism aside, (almost) all boss fights are exceptional. I have to specially highlight the encounter with the Scarlet Speedster, which makes you wary of your surroundings at all times.
Granted, you could say all bosses come down to shooting an objective, but at the very least each fight has a creative and unique presentation... with one huge exception. Now, what we're about to discuss could be considered a mild spoiler, so we would advise skipping to the next section of the article in case you want to be surprised by everything that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has to offer.
Mild spoilers ahead:
One of the worst parts of the game is how the final boss, the culminating point of its entire campaign, is an exact copy of another boss that players face at an earlier point. There are a total of five bosses in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, which isn't really a lot. So it's perplexing Rocksteady couldn't create a different fight for what should be the highest point of its game. Those are the types of sacrifices a project makes when it decides to dedicate most of its resources to crafting live-service mechanics.
End of spoilers
No need for it to take place on the Arkham-verse
The Batman: Arkham Legacy is really tricky to follow in a respectful manner. I've seen many players doubt that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League could successfully build upon one of the greatest superhero stories ever told in any medium. So the question needs to be asked: Was there even a reason for this game to take place in the Arkham-verse in the first place? And the answer is a clear no.
The narrative of Rocksteady's latest project doesn't benefit whatsoever by taking place after the events of Batman: Arkham Knight. It could very well take place in a different universe and its story would remain mostly the same. To be honest, I think it would've been better that way. After all, even this Deadshot is a completely different version from the character that players knew from the Arkham games. Additionally, Rocksteady could've done anything it wanted without undoing the perfect ending that Arkham Knight had.
Take Gotham Knights as an example: that project starts with the death of the Dark Knight, and yet no one was angry at that decision since it wasn't the same Batman players knew and loved from the Arkham games. However, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League does a few things that may not sit well with long-time fans of the saga, and it could all have been avoided by taking place in a different reality.
A short game with no side quests
I clocked exactly 15 hours and 11 minutes to complete Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Through those hours, I spent a considerable amount of time looking for easter eggs and secrets, as well as completing most of Riddler's challenges and a few contract (or secondary) missions. It's also worth noting that I had to repeat two different missions twice since the game crashed halfway through them. Even with all of that extra time, the result is a major downgrade from the 31 hours it would take to complete Batman: Arkham Knight with most of its secondary missions.
A huge part of that problem is that there are no story-driven side quests in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Sure, there are contracts, which are generic missions that ask you to kill waves of enemies with one specific type of attack. But there are no side narratives involving other DC characters, and that's a major letdown. Especially because the entire Batman: Arkham Saga had memorable side quests that saw players face the likes of the Mad Hatter or Hush.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League attempts to fill that void with a multiplayer mode filled with looter-shooter mechanics. So if you plan to play this game on your own, the lack of story-driven side quests is something to be wary of.
Overall verdict: It's better to wait
If you disliked the idea behind Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League ever since it was first revealed, then I would recommend you to skip the game altogether. Having played through it, I don't believe it contains anything that would make you change your mind. On the contrary, if you are open to the idea behind it, and enjoy DC and superhero stories, then I would advise you to wait.
There will be a time were Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is cheaper, or when it has enough extra content and characters to warrant a 70-dollar price tag. Until then, there's no major reason to purchase it on day one. It is by all means a fun game, but also suffers from being shallow in its current state. Besides, it's not like it has a story filled with twists and turns that could be gravely spoiled, unlike the Joker's death at the end of Batman: Arkham City. After all, Rocksteady's latest title gives you a really great idea of how everything will play out just with its title alone.
I would recommend buying the game now if you like looter-shooter games, and are planning on playing it with your friends. Even then, I think Destiny 2 could be a slightly better choice. And if you truly wanted to play as a group of misfits trying to save the world with all odds against them, then Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy is a better title to consider.