Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League - Review In Progress

Imagine a world where your worst nightmares have come true.  The apocalypse has come, and people all around are dying or disappearing.  Now imagine that the peacekeepers and freedom fighters are the source of all the chaos. In a world gone mad, almost all the people you are accustomed to relying on for help have gone rogue.  Such is the premise of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League

Suicide Squad brings back a lot of familiar faces to anyone with any experience with the IP.  Rocksteady has confirmed that more playable characters and post-credit content is being planned for Suicide Squad but everyone in the main campaign is available already. Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, King Shark, and yes, Amanda Waller are back in a new adventure that shows us that villains can be heroes with the right…motivation.  If that motivation happens to come from a remote bomb inside their heads, so be it.  

Suicide Squad had a bit of a tumultuous journey to release. Initially, the launch window was set for 2022 but was delayed to May of 2023.  However, that release date would get delayed again in April of 2023 in favor of a February 2nd, 2024 release date.  Additionally, Long time Batman voice actor, Kevin Conroy died of intestinal cancer during the production of Suicide Squad. If that wasn’t bad enough, players who paid $100 for early access by purchasing the Digital Deluxe edition were locked out of servers for several hours due to a glitch that Rocksteady had to investigate and fix.

Suicide Squad

Killing The Justice League 

Let’s get the good stuff, and I mean the really good stuff, out of the way first. The campaign for Suicide Squad pits anti-hero against hero gone bad.  The big baddie, an alien named Brainiac, has taken over the minds and bodies of Earth’s finest superheroes.  It’s up to some prisoners from Arkham to save the day against their own will before the human race becomes extinct.  Amanda Waller sees no way to make this happen without the death of the members of The Justice League and so orders the Suicide Squad to kill them.

Suicide Squad Flash

From a creative storytelling viewpoint, Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is nothing short of spectacular. Some may feel that the idea of heroes going rogue under the influence of an alien brainwash is a bit trope-y. Personally, I was thrilled that they weren’t ignoring the superheroes to give us yet another anti-hero story.  In the movies, the Suicide Squad is assembled by Amanda Waller, an anti-hero in her own right, but I spent the whole time wondering why she didn’t just call in the good guys.  Why manipulate a group of prisoners into doing your dirty work when there is an actual group of heroes already committed to keeping Earth safe? Suicide Squad takes the Justice League option off the board entirely by making them the villains.  

Aside from being dark and gritty, Suicide Squad is also very funny.  I don't mean that in the way that some games have humor and might elicit a chuckle or two.  I mean that there have been times that I had deep guttural belly laughs.  Because of the bleak tone of the story, it provided necessary comic relief.  

Suicide Squad

In fact, the writing in Suicide Squad is some of the best video game writing I’ve ever experienced.  It doesn’t hurt that the voice actors do a phenomenal job bringing their characters to life.  Tara Strong shines as the unhinged Harley Quinn and Debra Wilson may have been a better Amanda Waller than Viola Davis. 

As this is a Review-In-Progress, I can’t say for certain that there are no issues with the campaign from a narrative standpoint but I can say that there have been no issues so far.  I’m very hopeful that the storytelling stays a high point in Suicide Squad.  So far there has been no indication that it won’t.

Mission Deja Vu

Unfortunately, as much as I gush over Suicide Squad’s storytelling, the gameplay really isn’t set up for such an epic story.  Aside from having a campaign, Suicide Squad is also a live service multiplayer game.  Rocksteady created a game that is in the middle of a serious identity crisis because the campaign is fueled by missions that feel very repetitive. In the context of a live service multiplayer experience, they would be great. That doesn’t translate well to a campaign.  Instead, they are used to unlock key pieces of equipment in Suicide Squad that are essential to succeed.  I’m over halfway through the campaign and yet, I’m still unlocking rewards that I will need for future missions.  There are four basic mission types: Protect a plant, destroy some crystals, rescue some hostages, and objective based missions. It’s like playing Splatoon or Overwatch with their objective based matches but with a super interesting story around it that ends up feeling slowed down.

Suicide Squad

This is important to note because if the multiplayer featured these matches and the campaign felt more like Spiderman or Quantum Break, I’d be all in.  The combat feels amazing. Movement including character specific moves, aiming, firing, and loadouts work together so well to create a personalized experience based on player preferences and how that interacts with the needs of the current mission. Building your perfect loadout with your perfect character will be nothing 

short of epic in post-credit play especially as more character options and play styles open up.

I have to consider the possibility that if they had focused their efforts on making a spectacular campaign or a spectacular live service multiplayer game, the result would have been so much better. Some of the pre-production roadblocks that Rocksteady encountered might have been avoided if their attention was more lasered in on one game style.

What A Wonderful World 

In addition to the amazing story that Rocksteady is telling, the world they’ve built is equally awesome.  It kinda has the feel of NYC in Spiderman even allowing you to swing through the city on Batman’s grapple gun. The movement through this vast open space doesn’t feel overwhelming as each character has an ability to quickly travel through the city.  It’s just another way the gameplay mechanics make Suicide Squad such an enjoyable experience.

Suicide Squad Kill The Justice League

The world itself is the real star here.  Many times, post-apocalyptic landscapes start to feel recycled and re-used. It often looks exactly the same in one place as it did in another.  In Suicide Squad, there’s a real sense of the map being different wherever you go.  I don’t feel like I’m traveling to the exact same places I’ve already been because there’s a unique identity to each place that I visit. 

Part of this is up to the graphics.  Digital Foundry says that the PS5 version of the game typically runs 1440P and 60 FPS. While it’s a disappointment that Sony’s 4K machine isn’t actually running Suicide Squad at 4K, 1440p is not an ugly resolution and the buttery 60 FPS is a welcome change of pace for this Switch player who is used to capping at 30.

Skills Growing on Trees

If there’s one thing that I dislike in just about any game I play, it’s a skill tree.  Earning points to then spend on skills to make it easier to play, feels like work.  I already have a job and don’t need my time to relax to feel like a chore.  The skills tree in Suicide Squad is no exception.  They give an in-story explanation as to why I’m forced to waste my time with it. The explanation makes a lot of sense but I would just as soon skip the whole thing. Unfortunately, if I ignore the points, Suicide Squad’s resident computer interface, Hack, reminds me incessantly about my unspent talent points.

Listen, if you like skill trees, more power to you. The one redeeming trait of this specific skill tree is that it tells me what skills will improve my play style by telling me what play style they complement. Still, I’d much rather organically see my play get better and my characters get stronger through experience and unlocking gear without being bogged down with a skill tree. It feels wholly unnecessary.

Conclusion

I want to be clear about this: I really love what I’ve played in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League so far.  The gameplay alone has carried me through the repetition so it doesn’t feel sluggish or unplayable. When I am done with the campaign, I could see myself easily spending hours in objective based matches with others. With more content to come, this potentially ongoing experience will likely even have me coming out of my Fortnite haze to kick some alien tail.

I’m looking forward to finishing off the Justice League and saving the world. I’m excited to see more of the evil Brainiac-washed Justice League and wonder what kind of story telling this could lead to in the future. Mostly, I just want more of the gritty and gross power trip that is Amanda Waller.  Oh how I love to hate her. And I can’t wait to tell you more about what it’s like to kill the Justice League.

Full Disclosure: A copy of this product was provided by PR for the purposes of this review. Reviewed on PS5.