After the ten-hour campaign, I was left feeling like I hadn’t really scratched the surface of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. This is a live-service game, and through various missions that generally fall into a handful of the same type of structure, and with many of the four members of my team barely reaching their potential in terms of skill trees and the high-end loot, it’s impossible to know how Rocksteady’s roadmap will keep players shooting, traversing, and bashing the hell out of Brainiac’s minions. Yet despite feeling underwhelmed after completing the story, I’d had a blast with it, even if there’re a fair few issues with its construction.
Harley Quinn, Boomerang, King Shark, and Deadshot: AKA The Suicide Squad. You may be familiar with this pocket of the DC Universe thanks to a range of movies, such as the lacklustre first attempt, the forgettable Birds of Prey, and the surprisingly decent Suicide Squad from James Gunn. Whether you know much about them or not, Rocksteady has done a fantastic job of making you care for the characters, with some of the best writing in a superhero game I’ve ever seen. We know the calibre in the Arkham trilogy was high, and this is no different.
Harley Quinn is by far the standout, branching out alone from being the needy love interest of Mr J and becoming a formidable yet deranged anti-hero in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Deadshot is out for revenge, and while he can occasionally stray into the generic, he finds ways to make you warm to him. King Shark at first feels like a carbon copy of Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy, but he grows into a smart and caring individual while never losing his aggressive streak. As for Boomerang, he’s the comic relief, but more often than not he’s genuinely funny and a solid addition to the team.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has some solid acting throughout, whether in the funnier, crazier moments of causing utter chaos and making fools of themselves, or in the few emotional moments where you might actually shed a tear. Tara Strong is superb as Harley, and AEW World Champion Samoa Joe nails it as King Shark. The story throws out some surprises every now and again, with the odd Easter Egg and reference to the comics, but it stands on its own as an enjoyable yet predictable escapade through the Avant Garde streets of a neon-soaked Metropolis.
Switching between the four members of the Suicide Squad can be done at any point outside missions, and each has their own playstyles that can be built upon as you level up. Harley can swing and grapple across the city; Boomerang can teleport and run fast; King Shark can leap vast distances and high up, and Deadshot has a jetpack. All have their own benefits and are useful in different situations, but I loved jumping across Metropolis as King Shark because it was much more effective at getting from one place to another. You’re also free to equip any weapon to a character, but making sure the spread is balanced across the entire team makes for a better chance at taking down grunts.
When you’re fighting off waves of enemies, success comes from building combos and ultimately doing more damage as you reach the tenth, twentieth, and thirtieth bullet sponge. Upgrading weapons and skill trees provides perks to chained combos, such as better damage and certain skills lasting longer. There’s a lot to take in when it comes to stats for weapons, and the screen is filled with numbers, modifiers, and chains of attacks, causing the UI to look more like a textbook than a video game. If you’re like me, you won’t care much for studying every small detail, but for those that want the best possible combinations from loot drops, you’ll likely get a lot out of it.
Combat ranges from gunplay to melee, and when factoring in traversal at the same time, you’ll be managing a heck of a lot. Battles are intense, but you start to grasp all the nuance of firing weapons at enemies feet to refill your shield, swinging and firing then sliding and shooting, breaking armour. and using your special double-button attack, soaring from above by pressing L1 and R1 together to do significant AoE damage, and more. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a dense third-person shooter, with so much to learn and master, but there are tons of opportunities for you to get stuck in and experiment.
The only problem with this is that missions are pretty dull. Escort a truck and take out enemies that try to block your path; destroy incubators by clearing enemies out of the way; rescue ARGUS members and take them back to the truck; and so on. There are slight deviations to this, but the side missions are all pretty much one of the three. There are Riddler trophies to collect and riddles to solve, along with Riddler AR missions where you can unlock new looks for your squad via traversal time trials, and while not to the same high standards seen in the Arkham series, they’re a nice change of pace from the repetitive side quests.
Most of these missions bleed into the campaign, with the occasional change of pace when attempting to kill one of the Justice League. When coming face to face with these mighty heroes, it feels wrong trying to kill them, but kill them you must. There’s no mistaking it: you will kill the real Justice League. With the first couple of members in The Flash and Green Lantern, you don’t feel quite as bad, but having to square up to Batman, especially with it being one of Kevin Conroy’s final performances, it’s uncomfortable. Conroy gives a stellar performance as the Dark Knight, having the freedom to be the exact opposite of his previous performances in the Arkham series, yet still having that stoic and broody persona.
Wonder Woman is the only one not affected by Brainiac’s mind control, and seeing Harley in awe of her is a cool part of the story. As for Superman, the most dangerous person on Earth, he’s reduced to nothing more than the penultimate boss with no character presence whatsoever. I was so excited to see how Rocksteady dealt with having him turn on those he’d always swore to protect, however, he barely speaks, is rarely in it, and once he’s done, he’s done forever. Brainiac is no different, although the endgame stuff will see him feature a bit more. Once you do finish the story, the endgame, or ‘Finite Earth’ content, features new missions which are still similar to what’s been played before, just harder.
I hope Rocksteady is dedicated to giving us more to do, or at least offer different missions and maybe even story arcs for lesser characters. The main game consists of one story thread with a few missions to complete for characters like Hack, Gizmo, and Toyman, as well as familiar villains-turned allies Penguin and Poison Ivy, but they don’t offer up any kind of side story as they did in previous Rocksteady titles. I wish there was more character development and cutscenes for these characters, but their addition lacks any impact, rather a way to necessitate improving your gear.
The acting is the best thing about Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, and I loved seeing these characters grow throughout, especially Harley Quinn. Amanda Waller is just as devious as she’s always been, acting as one of the better characters outside of the Squad, but her lapdog Rick Flag is duller than dishwater. Lex Luthor is incredible throughout the story, and while he’s there to help you, you’re never sure if he’s going to just screw you over at some point. Everyone is superbly animated, with cutscenes being some of the best on the PS5, and the city of Metropolis is stunning, though devoid of life and any kind of personality.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has moments of enjoyment, with excellent acting and a great script. It looks incredible, and combat can be lots of fun, but the missions are repetitive and lack any kind of diversity past the original three or four that exist throughout. It will be interesting to see if Rocksteady can do what Crystal Dynamics couldn’t, but at this stage, I feel it’s going to take a lot of work to make playing Endgame content worth sticking with as the months roll on.
Combat and traversal are a lot of fun
Superb writing and acting
Missions are repetitive
Some handling of characters is fumbled