Sometimes, a game emerges amidst a flurry of reviews and gossip, prompting me to question: am I crazy for enjoying it or for not wanting to engage in the surrounding vitriolic conversation? Or perhaps it’s simply divisive? For “Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League,” I believe the answer lies somewhere in between. Undoubtedly, everyone and their proverbial four mothers have been exposed to the hubbub surrounding this game. However, from the outset, I’ve found genuine enjoyment in my experience with it. The gameplay and traversal mechanics offer a ton of fun, the writing and story are compelling, and it manages to integrate live service elements without feeling intrusive.
In “Suicide Squad,” you take on the role of Task Force X, tasked with taking down the Justice League under Brainiac’s control. Your squad is ill-equipped for the challenge, but where’s the fun without a bit of audacity? Each squad member boasts a unique skill tree, outfits, traversal mechanics, abilities, and weapons. Deadshot, for instance, utilizes a jetpack for aerial maneuvers and excels in critical hits, wielding sniper rifles, pistols, and assault rifles. Harley, on the other hand, swings around the city with Batman’s old grappling hook, proficient in miniguns, SMGs, and pistols. King Shark serves as the heavy hitter, utilizing his strength to navigate buildings and employ miniguns and assault rifles. Finally, Captain Boomerang employs Flash’s equipment to manipulate the speed force, adopting a hit-and-run strategy with his teleporting boomerang. Each character’s distinct playstyle necessitates adaptation from the player, keeping the experience dynamic.
Most of the weaponry provides a satisfying experience, though some of the “laser” weapons lack impact. And I’m not quite sure the loot is alluring enough for me to continue grinding for. However, landing headshots with rifles or revolvers consistently delivers a sense of gratification. The game introduces new mechanics throughout the campaign, ensuring a fresh experience until approximately 50% completion. This progression prevents gameplay from stagnating, with new enemy types constantly challenging the player. Such as enemies that need to be countered or other enemies that use some of the Flash’s technology.
Drawing inspiration from the Arkham series, “Suicide Squad” incorporates fighting game elements such as combo meters and counters. Combos, coupled with skills, yield various effects, incentivizing continuous movement and engagement. Mastery of the traversal system proves essential for success in combat. Counters, reminiscent of traditional fighting games, disrupt enemy attacks, providing opportunities for counterattacks, particularly useful against rooftop snipers.
To maintain momentum, the game employs a mechanic akin to “glory kills” from “Doom 2016.” Performing a “shield harvest” on weakened enemies serves as the primary method for shield restoration, further emphasizing the importance of sustained combat engagement. These mechanics, in conjunction with diverse enemy encounters, contribute to the fluidity and enjoyment of combat.
The gameplay here is only let down by a few items. One is the game’s extremely short missions. I’d bet that 70% of missions can be completed in less than 7 or 8 minutes. Granted there are a lot of missions and I spent around 40 hours with the title, but these extremely short missions are lackluster and often repetitive. Secondly, a lot is happening on screen. There are combo counter flashes, elemental effects, combo effects, etc. And there is some visual clutter as a result. I eventually adapted to it- but I can see it being overwhelming for some players. Finally, I encountered a few bugs such as characters not appearing in cutscenes, mission timers counting the wrong way, mission triggers or endings not triggering and server disconnects. Granted I only encountered a handful of these, but they are worth mentioning.
The characters in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League are exceptionally well-written and portrayed, a testament to the quality of the game’s narrative. The story unfolds through entertaining and impeccably acted cutscenes, though at times, their length may disrupt gameplay flow. While some missions consist of straightforward objectives interspersed with lengthy cutscenes, others feature bombastic boss fights, showcasing creative encounters with DC characters. Notably, encounters with characters from the Arkhamverse evoke a sense of nostalgia and introduce new dynamics to the gameplay. However, certain missions feel overly brief or repetitive, detracting from the overall experience. A typical formula will be: ” watch 7-minute cutscene, go to an area and kill people for 2 minutes, and watch another 10-minute cutscene.” Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed the cutscenes and they’re very well done. But by the middle of my playthrough, the short length of some missions began to annoy me.
Despite these shortcomings, the narrative effectively leverages the DC universe, presenting a cohesive and engaging storyline. One negative however is that since the Arkhamverse jumped straight from Arkham Knight to Suicide Squad, I often felt like I was watching the 5th movie in a franchise without seeing the prior ones. Sure, some of the elements are classic D.C. tropes such as Boomer’s constant feud with the Flash, but it would’ve been nice to see that at some point. While newcomers may miss certain nuances, fans of the franchise will appreciate the faithful representation of beloved characters and settings.
But as someone who still reads at least two comic books a week, I enjoyed the story here and Rocksteady deserves to be commended for how lovingly the DC universe is used here.
“Suicide Squad” has garnered attention for its “live service” model, which, in my opinion, sets a commendable standard for the genre. Each new season introduces free missions, map areas, gear, and playable characters, with a battle pass offering both free and paid tracks. Microtransactions are strictly cosmetic, ensuring a fair playing field for all players. However, pricing for cosmetic items may deter some players, and server issues have marred the launch experience.
In the game, the most live service thing about is the daily challenges and grinding for gear. But those can be easily ignored, and you can play the game single-player with the bots. So far, all microtransactions are only cosmetic and the devs have assured it will always stay that way. That being said, the microtransactions are (as usual) outrageously overpriced. It’s $10 for an outfit and the outfits aren’t even that amazing in my opinion. Along with that, the deluxe ($100) edition was supposed to come with the Squad’s original outfits. And sure, it does, but only a single one for each character and not the whole set. You want a different classic headpiece or color swatch for it? That’ll be $30. Kind of scummy.
Server-wise, yes the servers were down on launch day for 12 hours but the devs gave everyone $20 worth of microtransactions as an apology. And they deserve kudos for that. Besides launch day, servers have been pretty iffy. Since launch, it can sometimes take me up to 15 minutes to try to log in, and some days I have been unable to log in. The servers are also causing some glitches where if playing coop, the characters in the squad aren’t consistent with each player. This means you might see a perfect 4 man squad, but your coop friend might see 3 deadshots in the same game.
Being the game just launched, it’s a tad too early to fully judge the “live service” mechanics. But if they can fix the servers and stick to their pricing plans – I have high hopes.
In conclusion, Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League offers an exhilarating gaming experience, whether played solo or cooperatively. Despite some flaws, the gameplay mechanics and narrative depth provide ample entertainment over the course of the game’s runtime. With continued support and refinement, “Suicide Squad” has the potential to evolve into a standout live service title, worthy of extended playtime and continued enjoyment.
Reviewed by Harrison “Purrgil1” on Xbox Series X and S