The odds seemed stacked against Rocksteady Studios the moment they revealed Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League to the world way back in 2020. First impressions of a co-op looter/shooter in which players are tasked with killing the Justice League were none too celebrated, and it seemed that many have been waiting for the game to fail. Yet, if given a chance to develop, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League can be a chaotic blast, and it’s never felt so good to be bad.
It was always going to be a tough battle for Rocksteady, coming hot off the heels of the Batman: Arkham series, known for its gritty storytelling involving just the Batman mythos loved by all. The combat and narratives revolutionized how players view superhero games, and they have become the pinnacle of enjoyment for the genre. So, how does one get out of Batman’s shadow?
Much like A.R.G.U.S. with Task Force X, some didn’t want Rocksteady to succeed in its villainous bout in Metropolis, but the years it took and the delays it allowed have fleshed out the game to be one of the most impressive releases of a live-service title both in narrative and in gameplay.
Suicide Squad’s Story is Controversial
The story for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League may be where the controversy takes root. After all, the game isn’t shy about what it wants players to do. Even the reveal trailer from 2020 showcased another depiction of an evil Superman, a trope that many fans of the DC Comics character have become tired of in recent years. For fans, not only was there disappointment in continuing the Batman: Arkham series as a live-service looter/shooter but there was greater disappointment still at the prospect of killing the Justice League, characters that only just debuted in the Arkhamverse in this very title.
If fans were to put aside the questionable mission from Amanda Waller, they might just find themselves having a blast. The game starts with a familiar story beat, heading off to Arkham Asylum, a familiar ground to fans of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Despite the initial homage, no time is wasted in letting players know that this is not a Batman: Arkham game, as Harley cuts the tension and eagerly points out the fact she’s strapped to a gurney next to a giant talking shark (who is happy to introduce himself).
The cutscenes are where Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League really impresses, and the personalities of its four central and playable characters: Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark, shine on the screen with every word of dialogue, whether witty or dramatic. First impressions are high from this cast of misfits and villains, as they immediately try to kill each other the moment they are freed from their restraints. This level of humor remains consistent throughout the game, and it’s clear that their competitive and criminal nature is going to carry them through this Metropolis adventure.
Hearing the Suicide Squad banter with each other, or watching as they cluelessly navigate through a world far too big and dangerous for what they know, is a constant hilarious blast. The game is funny, and there are many laugh-out-loud moments. Yet, the game allows breathing room when it’s time to get serious, blending humor and tension without overstepping a line. Task Force X is out of their league, tasked by Amanda Waller to kill the Justice League and take down Earth’s invader, Brainiac, and his forces. It’s no simple objective, and the story will take a few twists, spins, and turns to constantly keep players moving and thinking about what’s going to happen next.
Writing Shines in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Rocksteady seems to have invested time and talent in making sure the personalities of the Suicide Squad transcend into their gameplay. Each of the four core characters has something unique to bring to the table in their weaponry, traversal, and talents. Each character plays differently, and it’s a lot of fun to see them navigate through the open-world Metropolis and take out armies of Brainiac’s forces. After over 25 hours in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and a fair amount of time spent with each character, it’s safe to say that there’s a class for every style of player. From the brawlers and demolitionists to the wild cards and the snipers, everyone has something special, and the grand-scale carnage is half the fun.
Harley Quinn can swing from roof to roof in gymnastic flair, disregarding her own safety as she gets up close and personal with her foes thanks to explosives and pistols. Captain Boomerang teleports and runs around, making himself a hard target to hit as he shoots people in the back or throws a boomerang at their skulls. Deadshot stays agile and airborne, assuring that he never misses his shot. As for King Shark, he lets his brutish side shine, as he can leap across large gaps and slam down on enemies like the hulking demigod he is. The movement might be a tad tricky to master, but it won’t take long before players are expertly maneuvering from Metropolis’ rooftops and over enemies’ heads.
Players should be encouraged to experiment with the combat and mix and match their playstyle. Each character can carry specific weapons that they will master, which compliments their quirky nature. A variety of enemy types will force players to think about their next move. Whether they need to use a counter shot, a grenade or melee strike, or even just to fire their guns like there’s no tomorrow. Playing with this field of weaponry is a joy, and as players rise through the levels, they’ll begin to expertly build up a combo to unleash even more chaos and devastation. Yet, there is a learning curve in mastering these characters and understanding the RPG elements. To someone who has experience in creating builds for specific playstyles, it comes as a treat, but to newcomers, they might need a hand, especially when some of their loot comes in and they start to see both positive and negative augments roll.
The game is a lot of fun when played with a friend, as each player (up to 4 in total) can compete in an attempt to steal each other’s kills. It’s a mechanic that’s often shunned in other games, but in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, it’s encouraged. Players will earn a higher score for stealing kills, they’ll generate their abilities faster, and it’s always satisfying knowing you’ve just stolen a shield harvest off of a friend—unless they rather desperately need it. The squad works at their best when they’re free to do their own thing. They don’t need to target the same enemy or stick together, and that’s such a freeing way to play a looter/shooter. Keeping the independence of these characters allows players to do what they want when engaging in combat, and it’s always fun to brag and banter with friends about who got the most kills in a mission, or who needed reviving the most. There lies the competitive nature of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, a friendly sport all in good jest to get better at it.
The combat loop is equally addictive and fun as it was to beat up thugs in the Batman: Arkham games.
In terms of criticism, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League falls into the same traps as many live-service models, in the fact that many of the missions can feel repetitive and same-y. Most of the missions feature an objective in which players must “go to this location and kill things”, or “defend this location and kill things”. While repetitive, there’s still a lot of fun to be had simply because the combat feels so good. Mastering the different mechanics and builds of each character, and leaning into new weapons and dangerous bouts with enemies, can make these missions feel great, even if they do repeat themselves a tad. It’s a far cry from the different missions featured in the Batman: Arkham games, where fans of the series remember stalking their prey in vents, waiting to strike from vantage points, or navigating through villain hideouts. This time around, the squad roams around Metropolis completing a similar set of objectives for their supporting squad.
There are a few missions in the game that really shine out and bring forth some incredible moments. One that comes to mind is when Task Force X has captured The Flash, and they take refuge in a museum dedicated to showing the events of the Batman: Arkham trilogy. This building is haunted by a Brainiac-controlled Batman, who immediately shows how his no-kill rule has gone out the window. This mission is a celebration of Batman, as he uses many of the gadgets that players use across the Batman: Arkham games. Not only that but players are tasked with trying to escape the building and avoid the Batman, only for the Caped Crusader to take them out one by one. For this experience, it’s an absolute blast to play with a friend.
Wandering around in the dark with nothing but a flashlight, only to see a friend get kicked in the face and knocked out by Batman, before he disappears with a smoke bomb or grapples to the ceiling, is exciting, intense, and terrifying. Fans finally get to know what it feels like to be a Gotham criminal and see what they’ve been doing to people for all these years when they played as Batman. Sadly, these missions are few and far between from the usual model, and these more narrative-directed missions will leave players hungry for more.
Rocksteady is also known for its intense and expertly crafted boss fights across the Batman: Arkham games. Many might recall the bout with Mister Freeze in Arkham City, or the Killer Croc hunt in Arkham Asylum. Sadly, the boss fights don’t excel this time around. The rather few boss fights players encounter in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League play out mostly the same, with players needing to use counter shots before they can deal damage. Although cinematic in their grand design, the fights don’t do the characters justice, as it’s mainly just shooting at a moving target.
It’s worth talking about the elephant in the room: killing the Justice League in a game called Kill the Justice League. For some, this is where the story might take a disrespectful approach. Nobody likes to see their favorite characters die, especially at the hands of the villains. However, Rocksteady places upon the player clues and hints that could be important going forward. After all, Batman received quite a few fakeout deaths across the Batman: Arkham games, so whose to say what truly happens? Without entering spoiler territory too much, it’s worth noting that context is everything, and while a few cutscenes of the game might cause fans to enter a frenzy, it’s clear that they don’t have the full story.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a live-service game, which means that the story doesn’t end when the credits roll. Some fans might be unhappy with the initial appearances and fates of characters involved in the game, and patience is a virtue. It’s very much a “wait and see” situation with Rocksteady, as the fate of the Justice League and seemingly the multiverse is in their hands, and the hands of a shark demigod, expert marksman, psychotic clown with a toxic ex, and an Australian with an enthusiasm for boomerangs. At launch, the intrigue into where the story takes players in the future couldn’t be higher, and there’s hope that this title can excel as one of the best superhero games since Batman: Arkham Knight, with an ongoing narrative that can be expected from the pages of a comic book.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a welcome addition to co-op looter-shooters, and while its live-service aspects may turn some away, it’s friendly enough, and promising enough, to newcomers to the genre. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League doesn’t have the triumphant flair of the Batman: Arkham series, but the game deserves a fair chance for those who enjoy the worlds of DC Comics and exhilarating gameplay loops because Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League shows what fun a co-op game should be.
Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League
- Exciting story
- Addictive combat and traversal gameplay
- Hilarious dialogue and moments
- Rewarding loot
- Great performance and optimization
- Repetitive missions
- Underwhelming boss fights
- Controversial narrative