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Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

Written by Eric Hauter on 2/7/2024 for PS5  
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I can’t be mad at Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Oh sure, I can question a lot of the game’s design choices, from the beautiful but empty open world map to the rigid linear mission structure. I can moan that the story missions feel like the same thing over and over again. But can I be openly, bitterly mad at it? No, I can’t.

I can’t be mad at it, because Suicide Squad is a AAA game that allows me to play the entire campaign as King Shark. I dabbled with the other characters, of course, but when King Shark is an option, why would I invest any significant amount of time elsewhere? I mean, King Shark is an anthropomorphic shark man. And as voiced by Nuufalou Joel “Joe” Seanoa (Samoa Joe to wrestling fans), he is freaking hilarious.

King Shark is just one of the four B-tier DC supervillains that make up this videogame iteration of Suicide Squad, the team of losers assembled by the ruthless Amanda Waller. Waller puts bombs in the heads of anyone she wants on her team, which gives her carte blanche to make whatever ridiculous demands she wants. And unfortunately for Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, and King Shark, Waller wants the Justice League dead.

Brainiac is making his latest play to conquer Earth, and this time he looks like he might succeed. He has brainwashed the Justice League to do his bidding, with the exception of one very pissed-off Wonder Woman. But the rest – The Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, and an utterly terrifying Batman – are all under Brainiac’s thrall, and it is up to the wildly underpowered Suicide Squad to stop them. And it quickly becomes clear to Waller and the rest of the team that killing the League is the only way to truly end the threat.

This sounds like the setup for an incredible videogame, right? And in many ways, Kill the Justice League is an incredible game. The story is fantastic. Even if we’ve done the whole “Brainiac takes over Earth” thing a bazillion times in comics and animation, this fresh take on the tale from the Suicide Squad’s perspective is lively and original. The writing is absolutely stellar, and every performance in the game is completely on point, giving players a laugh-out-loud experience that loves its characters as much as we do. The only game I can remember being this well-written and funny was the Guardians of the Galaxy game, so Suicide Squad is jumping up and tapping a pretty high bar. This game is at least as good as most of the films in the now defunct DCEU - better in most cases.

The Justice League is appropriately powerful, and often downright scary. Whenever one of them showed up in the game, I found my butt puckering up a little bit. These heroes are not to be trifled with, especially Batman. I mean, it has always been fun to watch and play Batman stories seen from Batman’s perspective. He terrifies villains, and it’s a hoot. But in this game, the player is on the other side of the coin, and Batman’s intelligence and relentless nature makes him one of the most horrific videogame opponents in quite some time. The rest of the League are almost as bad; all cackling villainy and cockiness, with the confidence of knowing they are nigh untouchable.

So yes, the story, the concept, the performances are all A++ material. So why is this game not a complete recommendation? Well, strangely, the moment-to-moment shooter/combat gameplay just isn’t all that fun.

It’s weird, because Suicide Squad takes place in a beautifully realized Metropolis, which is something of a miracle of design. It’s been wrecked by Brainiac’s attack, but all of the Daily Planet-style landmarks you would want to see are still intact. It’s a sprawling and gorgeous map, but thanks to the game’s stellar traversal methods, you can make it from one end to the other in just a couple of minutes. The problem is that outside of bounding across the city on the way to your next mission, there’s nothing to do in Metropolis. You usually just see bits of the beautiful design as you zip on by.

Over the course of its campaign (I know people have been saying it’s 10-12 hours. I clocked in more in the 17-20 hour range), Suicide Squad slowly doles out a couple of missions at a time in an entirely linear fashion. Usually, there is one story mission, and maybe one or two “equipment upgrade” missions live on the map at any given time. You can pick one of these, and zip, swing, or jump your way over to it. And don’t expect to get distracted along the way, because there is absolutely NOTHING happening in Metropolis outside of your missions.

You know how in the recent Spider-Man 2, the map was clogged with points of interest? Pictures you could take, sub-missions you could play, puzzles you could solve? Yeah, Suicide Squad has none of that stuff. All of the pedestrians in the streets are either dead or converted into alien bad guys, who hang out statically on rooftop, in case you want to slow down long enough to kill them. There are some Riddler puzzles to solve, but the benefits for doing so are purely cosmetic, so if you don’t care about that, you won’t bother with them when you find them.

So, with a lack of side activities, the primary missions must be great, right? Well, no, not really. The cut scenes before and after are a lot of fun, but most of the missions themselves are very brief, and primarily involve doing the same three or four mission types over and over again. Kill X number of bad guys. Protect a couple of points from incursions. Rescue four civilians and return them to a bus. This stuff is kind of fun in the moment, but after doing each mission type three or four times, you kind of start banging your head against the wall.

This is made even more banal by the fact that these four very different hero/villains play very much the same. Which leads to the biggest question I have about Suicide Squad: Why the hell is this game a shooter? I mean, it makes sense for Deadshot – and Harley to an extent – but King Shark is a SHARK. Why isn’t he biting people? I’m playing a game as a SHARK and I can’t bite people? WHY CAN’T I BITE PEOPLE?

The closest analog for this game in the recent videogame space is probably Marvel’s Avengers (which I personally enjoyed), but that game made every hero feel unique, leaning into their individual powersets and abilities. But Suicide Squad has everyone toting around shotguns, miniguns, sniper rifles, etc, and it just doesn’t make sense in terms of the lore. The game nails the dialogue and the traversal (which is mad fun), but the actual combat feels wildly out of place for this world.

Each character can be developed by dropping points into a skill tree, but most of these skills just incrementally increase your damage output. Even the ones I was excited to get didn’t really impact my style of play all that much; nor did any of weapon upgrades I eventually received as mission rewards or as the result of crafting. Frankly, I stuck with the weapon I got as part of the Deluxe Edition of the game for the vast majority of the campaign, only switching it out when the game absolutely forced me into a corner.

I also found the controls to be overly complicated. Almost every action is performed by holding down one button and tapping another, which ends up feeling pretty messy, to the point where I would forget how to perform certain actions - or worse yet, that those actions existed in the game at all. The game also includes some pretty gnarly missions that force the player to do damage to opponents with specific damage types (only grenades, only crits, etc.), which often sent me scrambling to the Codex to remember how to do those moves. I do, however, want to positively call out the accessibility option that allowed me to turn down the resistance on the DualSense triggers. My sad hands greatly appreciated the ability to remove that particular struggle from the mix.

The boss fights are much like the rest of the game – great, great story moments bookending somewhat unspectacular gameplay. Most of the fights against the actual League members were kind of bewildering, causing me to swing the camera around wildly to try to keep track of the action. (You can watch my son Aidan and I take down The Flash starting around the 19:00 mark in the video below). I do give credit to the team at Rocksteady that they followed through and actually allow the player to kill the Justice League, as I was 75% sure the game would somehow balk when the moment came. Nope. You straight up murder those fools, and it is shocking and sometimes hilarious.

I did play most of the game in single player with a team of bots, which was interesting. While they tended to hold their end of the bargain in terms of combat, they are utterly unmotivated to pursue any of the mission objectives, leaving that entirely up to the player. Multiplayer is fun, but like most games of this nature, I prefer to play through the story on my own so I don’t miss any of the dialogue, then circle back around to the end game with others. That said, it is very, very easy to hop into games with friends, and the game is liberal in the way it allows players to skip around in the story while still retaining any goodies they earn.

And then there’s the end game. Unfortunately, unless the free updates that are coming dramatically add to the storyline, I can’t see myself engaging with Suicide Squad much further. Like Marvel’s Avengers, the end game seems to consist of recycled missions from the story, without the narrative thrust that actually motivated me to pursue them in the first place. I just can’t get interested in the endless pursuit of bigger damage numbers for the sake of bigger damage numbers. This is a me thing, though, not a Suicide Squad thing. I fall off of almost every game that has an end game / service element in the exact same way.

In the end, I think that I fall on the “mild recommendation” side of things with Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Everything works well, and the story is great, and while the action isn’t compelling on its own, it is not painful in any way. I can’t insist that everyone should run right out and play this game immediately, but I can’t blame anyone that does. This is a very funny game, and it allows me to play as a shark. I’m not mad at it.

While the strangely gun-focused combat isn’t anything to write home about, the filmic story elements in Suicide Squad are enough to carry the day, at least for the duration of the campaign. While I wish there was more to do in Metropolis, it is a beautiful setting for a game, and watching the cast of weirdos and losers skewer some of DC’s finest is a guilty pleasure. While the end game doesn’t currently feel compelling, there is more to come, so we’ll reserve judgement until we see how that plays out. As it stands, this is a mild recommendation for a mostly painless, often funny game.

Rating: 7.5 Above Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories.  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here

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