Also on: Xbox Series X, PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
At this point, it’s hard to think of what can be said about Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League that hasn’t already been said. It’s only been out a few days, but between previews that gleefully trashed the game and a fanbase that was none too happy with the idea of DC’s most iconic heroes being the bad guys, the reception has been negative to an almost comical extent.
And to some extent, I get it. On top of the above, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a co-op shooter from Rocksteady, a studio that made its name creating some of the best single-player games ever. Given that you spend most of this game blasting away at enemies and earning bigger and better guns, I totally understand why people who just want more Arkham will be disappointed.
But here’s the thing: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is actually pretty fun. I enjoyed my time with it, and every time I played I’d look at a clock and realize that hours and hours had somehow elapsed. I’m not saying it’s going to replace any of the Arkham games even in my own personal list of favourites or anything; it’s not even on par with Arkham Origins, the non-Rocksteady entry in the series. But even so, if you go in looking for big, stupid fun, it delivers.
And that Arkham Origins comparison is actually relevant to why Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a lot better than you may expect. The same studio that made Origins also made Gotham Knights, which, of course, was awful – in part because it felt like a bad pastiche of an Arkham game.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, by contrast, never feels like it’s trying to be another Arkham game. It may be set in the same universe, but that’s just about the only connection. Where the Arkham games were all dark and somber and moody, Suicide Squad Kills the Justice League is…not. It’s lots of bright colours and quips and fast movement, and it’s all the better for it.
In fact, those are some of the reasons why I like the game as much as I do. Take the colours – or, more broadly, all the visuals. This game looks fantastic. The character models are incredible, and the detail to which Rocksteady imagined a post-Arkham, post-apocalyptic Gotham is impressive. The city is enormous, and even if the enemies feel a little same-y after a short while (more on that in a bit), you never feel like you’re just seeing the same parts of the city over and over again.
Similarly, the characters – Harley Quinn, King Shark, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang – are all given a chance to shine. Not only do they all have stellar voice actors, the script is decent. True, it’s far jokier than anything you’d ever find in a Batman game, but that’s kind of the point: this isn’t a Batman game, so writing it like one with these characters would’ve been a huge mistake.
My absolute favourite part of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, though, has got to be the traversal. It’s a constant joy to go flying (or swinging, or rocketing) over the streets of Gotham. While it takes awhile to get the hang of some of the characters’ specific moves, all of them feel amazing. Again, to go back to that Gotham Knights comparison: in that game, even when you were driving through the streets of Gotham, you never felt like you were behind the wheel of the Batmobile because you were going so slow. In Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, by contrast, I had to occasionally stop myself from flying off in all directions just because it was so enjoyable. Personally, I had the most fun playing as King Shark, leaping over tall buildings in a single bound (to borrow a phrase from another DC character) and crashing down to earth whenever enemies were below. While there are complaints to be made about where you’re coming from and going to (and I promise I’ll get to that in one second), there aren’t many games that capture the thrill of moving at high speeds quite like this one.
Of course, as I’ve alluded – and plenty of others have noted – Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has some problems. Specifically: its missions are incredibly repetitive. While the game gives you story reasons for doing everything, pretty much everything can be summarized as, “go here and shoot everything that moves.” While the gunplay is definitely well-done – not only can King Shark soar through the air, he also moves with incredible grace for a shark lugging around the biggest gun I’ve ever seen – a bit of variation would’ve been nice.
Similarly, it feels like you’re fighting the same enemies over and over again. While the same probably could’ve been said about the roaming gangs of thugs in the Arkham games, the issue is even more pronounced here since there are so many bad guys constantly popping into existence, and none of them are particularly memorable.
But even with those flaws, I can’t help but love Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. It’s not about to make you forget Rocksteady’s other games, but it’s not trying to, either. It’s a game that’s all about the simple joys of soaring through the air, blowing away aliens, and making funny quips afterwards – and there are far worse things for a game to be.
Warner Bros. Games provided us with a Suicide Squad Kills the Justice League PS5 code for review purposes.