Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League review: A generic looter shooter

A chaotic amount of information covers the screen, with colors exploding, words and numbers flying everywhere – button prompts pinging off the sides, explosions drowning out the voices of team members and mission givers. This was my kaleidoscopic experience playing Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice Leaguethe latest game from the otherwise incredible Rocksteady Studios, makers of the intricately designed Batman: Arkham games.

Acting as a sequel in the same universe, Suicide squad in which you take control of the titular team of a misfit, a mercenary, a monstrosity, and a man from Oz. The main objective is laid out in the subtitle: this gang of lovable goofballs must somehow kill the most powerful superheroes on Earth, including Batman (voiced for the last time in a game by the late, great Kevin Conroy), Superman, and Green Lantern . . (The flash is there too, but who cares?)

Kill the Justice League is an open world looter shooter with live service elements. That discovery was immediately off-putting to me when I first heard it, given the predatory and bland design choices often found in such games and the terrible end result of such a pivot for studios that specialize in single-player experiences. We’ve seen this before from other great single-player studios like Bioware and Crystal Dynamics: the erosion of a potentially rich story, leading to a lackluster final product that’s quickly abandoned. Go see the corpses of Hymn And The Avengers.

But who cares about recent history?

Based in Metropolis, Suicide TeamDC’s four criminals – Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and King Shark – have all been released from Arkham Asylum under the watchful eye of DC’s biggest character, Amanda Waller (played to perfection by Debra Wilson). Without introduction or fanfare, a powerful villain named Brainiac (played by Baldur’s Gate 3‘s Jason Isaacs) has invaded Earth, starting in Metropolis, and warped the minds of its greatest heroes to become his minions.

Apparently, when the heroes are gone, it’s the bad guys they have to kill.

To the writers’ credit, no time is wasted on plot contrivances to explain the absence of all the other 3,000 powerful DC heroes and why it must be these self-identified villains who save the world and fight the Justice League. It certainly didn’t matter to me. The four are dropped into Metropolis and told to take out the heroes before taking down Brainiac.

The moment-to-moment gameplay is similar to other third-person shooters with traversal mechanics, such as Overdrive at sunset. It is fast and resilient. You fly over rooftops and shoot into the air, trying to get combos and boosts through melee attacks and gliding maneuvers.

This flattens out what otherwise prides itself on being bold, explosive and colorful. The four anti-heroes are known for being loud and brash, with egos the size of planets. But none of this comes to the fore as you play, as all these big personalities become little more than any armed soldier you’ve played a thousand times.

When interacting with the world is primarily through combat, a character’s personality must translate into his means of destruction. But here, every character can use almost any weapon, and for 99 percent of the game, shooting is all you do and therefore the only way you interact with the world. While the Squad comes to life during cutscenes – with some fantastic graphics, animation, writing and voice work – they all fade into a nameless sludge, peashooter in hand, during the actual gameplay.

At Rocksteady’s Arkham For example, in games, every tool Batman used in the world was so specific to him that even small minions could identify his presence when he used them. Here, Harley can use a gun, much like Deadshot, and erase her presence from the world, aside from her shenanigans. The only identifying mechanics associated with characters are traversal and melee attacks. For example, King Shark jumps and lands over great distances, just like his Marvel colleague the Hulk. Harley uses a repurposed Bat-glider to swing out and a Bat-grabbing hook stolen from Batman.

Apart from reducing combat to pointless shooting, What you’re shooting, makes you roll and close your eyes: roll them because of the homogeneity and repetitive mission designs, and close them because of the flood of numbers, colors, counters, etc. filling the screen, what a headache.

Almost the entire game takes place outdoors, making Metropolis little more than set dressing. As a space, there’s nothing iconic about it, aside from a few giant statues of the heroes you focus on. This is because the mission structures are limited and involve the same mechanisms, which affect how the space can then be created. Missions involve shooting enemies on rooftops to clear space for monstrous factories or data centers, protecting a slow-moving vehicle driving to a destination, or freeing people and taking them to a magical bus. That is it.

There are no clever stealth mechanisms that force you to interact with the space itself and there are hardly any indoor assignments. The two times Rocksteady puts the four madmen in a tight space is to pit them against Batman and put them in the position of his enemies in space. Arkham games. This was really genius and the best part of the game: you really understand why henchmen are terrified of Batman, and how he creates an environment of fear where they sometimes shoot wildly in the dark. Added to this is perhaps Kevin Conroy’s most incredible turn as Batman.

After portraying the Dark Knight for thirty years, Conroy was tasked here with making him truly evil – and he is truly terrifying. I’ve never heard Conroy deliver Batman’s lines this way, with a harshness that only showed up when he was enraged by the injustices done by evil villains. This is an incredible farewell to one of the greatest voice actors who ever lived. Conroy sadly passed away in November 2022. As someone who watched the whole thing Batman: The Animated Series three times it made sense to have him here for the penultimate time. (His final role as Batman will be in the animated film, Crisis on the Infinite Earths, Part Three.)

But this incredible encounter only lasts a few minutes. The rest of the nine to ten hours of the main campaign is boring looter-shooter gameplay that left me both yawning and frustrated. The chaos on screen often made it very difficult to find and kill certain or specific types of enemies, as it was difficult to identify individuals amid the flood of information.

Furthermore, main missions and side missions have the exact same design setups. Aside from the Batman missions I mentioned, there are almost no other quests that offer unique mechanics, spaces, or mission types. They mirror the side missions and require the same tools and playstyle you would in any case.

Side missions are perhaps the worst part, however, as they place restrictions on killing enemies. For example, enemies can be immune to all damage minus critical hits, and you can only get critical hits if you kill specific octopus-like creatures running around the battlefield. Good luck spotting it! Other times, enemies are immune unless you perform a move that allows you to harvest shield money from them. You have to remember which moves do what and in the midst of a chaotic battle this sometimes proves pointless. I hated these missions and had to skip them.

Even worse, there was so little incentive to participate in side missions. After each mission, including the main ones, the game gives you an unskippable reward screen that drops ‘loot’. These are weapons, armor, or melee weapons that may or may not be better than what you currently have. I couldn’t tell you what almost all the stats meant, nor could I tell you what improving a character’s skill tree did. None of this felt different, there was no “build” involved, and I ended up sticking with Captain Boomerang with the same powerful weapon I got as a result of the Deluxe Edition DLC.

I don’t mind booty drops – I like, for example Diablo 4 and recently I started doing it Border countries 3. But to have everything stop for the delivery of a crappy gun that I won’t use felt like a rude and very ‘live service’.

While the heart of Rocksteady’s genius is tied up in its terrible games-as-service mechanics, it often struggles under the sludge of corporate nonsense. The game has been monetized to a tee, with an emphasis on an endless endgame grind and future seasons – which prevents the writers from giving a satisfying ending to the main campaign’s story, as there’s no way you can actually play Brainiac tackle. meaningful way

But to be honest, the game does pretty poorly in boss fights overall. While it’s clear that the Justice League are the bosses, the fights are all ultimately pretty much the same: you ‘counter’ a hero at certain points (basically wait for an opening to shoot) or reduce the equivalent of their shields, and then just … fire on them. Earth’s great heroes have been shot. It’s unapologetic, monotonous and a huge turn-off.

But that also applies to the game itself.

There were a few aspects I loved, such as Batman’s encounters; the writing, dynamics and performances in cutscenes between the four main characters; the beautiful graphics; and sometimes the passage of Boomerang. This game also features my favorite portrayal of Wonder Woman in any medium, with Zehra Fazal giving an amazing performance as the only Justice League hero who isn’t corrupted, having to face the fact that she may have to kill her friends . (Oh, what I’d give for a Rocksteady single player of this Wonder Woman! Good luck to Monolith with the current Wonder Woman game.)

But the noise of the moment-to-moment combat, the dull and repetitive mission designs, the uninspiring weaponry, and the erasure of the Squad’s personalities keep me from picking this up again. At least I have fewer headaches from all that noise on the screen.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is now available on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

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