Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad.
Screenshot by Destructoid

Review: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

Dead on arrival.

Upon first impressions, I argued that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a monotonous, uninspired ordeal. The introduction to Metropolis drags along, only to feel worse thanks to messy presentation and unintuitive mechanics, though I admit the latter may be a product of my own faults. Those early thoughts still stand, as Kill the Justice League doesn’t offer an enticing first few hours. Eventually, some of those pieces improve. Others, not so much.  

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My initial assessment pinned Kill the Justice League as a generic third-person shooter lacking much to differentiate it from the slew of similar games in the genre. More time certainly curbed the bad taste, but the charms here don’t outweigh the lack of thrills in another tortured DC setting. It’s dull gameplay and repetitive missions throughout, with environments, enemies, and gameplay systems failing to capitalize on interesting designs and cheeky dialogue.

Rocksteady’s latest is back-loaded, and all the good stuff comes several hours into the game. With that said, the live service pivot in the Batman: Arkham series never recovers from such a shaky, unsatisfying onboarding. The dry shooting mechanics are impossible to gloss over, and when the game tries to mix the formula up, it slips right back into monotonous routines. Occasionally, there’s a sense that Kill the Justice League wants to break up that formula, but it’s a beat the action-adventure shooter never quite nails.

Hidden beneath it all, I continued to get the feeling there were bits of something splendid with a hook vying for my attention, but I couldn’t shake the weight of its live service anchors or lack of variety. Ultimately, I have no choice but to conclude that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is the epitome of average.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League (PS5, PC, Xbox Series X/S [reviewed])
Developer: Rocksteady
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Released: February 2, 2024
MSRP: $69.99

Flower in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
Screenshot by Destructoid

Same song and dance

Kill the Justice League has Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark as an unexpected quartet forced to work together after remote controlled bombs are placed in their heads, driving them to obey the demands of Amanda Waller. Well, obey unless they want their heads to explode. 

Their target is the Justice League, as almost all the members have been brainwashed. To stop the threat from Brainiac and the brainwashed superheroes, the quartet must go on what would be a suicide mission for most and attempt to defeat the Justice League. They aren’t tackling the issue alone, however, as they recruit folks like Penguin to aid in their endeavors. 

The rhythm of the game has you recruiting, acquiring weapons, and completing the missions until your final showdown with the enthralled heroes. It’s fairly linear, though you can complete side missions to pad out total playtime, but that variance never raised the bar.

In the early hours of Kill the Justice League, you’re introduced to basic foes with purple armor. They come in hordes, each one identical to the last, and killing them is no fun and no different from most other average third-person over-the-shoulder games available now instead.

As the later and, finally, late game trudges on, a greater variety of enemies rise to meet your challenge, but they’re either annoyingly specific or bland; there’s no sweet spot in the fight. Snipers force you to pack a rifle of your own, while some beefier guys hit the scene with frustratingly-picky mechanics. When I encountered Metropolis enemies wielding abilities that freeze, I constantly had to tap into what seemed like a painfully limited grenade supply.

Suicide Squad does try to add variety to the situations you’re introduced to in each of the missions, sometimes by adding terminals for you to destroy, or having a large cannon for you to try and disable, but you’ll still be battling the same enemies. It gets old fast, and if you’re looking for something that is going to introduce you to new gameplay in this genre, or even shines as the best of the basics, Suicide Squad isn’t it.

Part of the problem is that the first two chapters feel like tutorials, and the real action begins in the third chapter. Considering the game’s total length, far too much time is spent teaching players the basics, and not enough time is spent offering missions actually utilizing the squad’s varied skills. There are all of these neat tools just lying about, thanks to seemingly limited use cases.

Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
Screenshot by Destructoid.

Again and again

There are a few times when Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League does try to switch things up. One mission has the squad escaping a Bat Museum. You’re not dealing with one-note enemies any longer, but instead are navigating a labyrinthine building with poor vision and tons of booby traps. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between, and I wish there were more of them.

You can choose between any of the four members of Task Force X to play as, and the dialog between the characters is one of the best parts of the game. As I pointed out during my first impressions, we’re given an excellent and hilarious rendition of Harley Quinn, and the humor is upped by Captain Boomerang. Deadshot is more of a silent guy, and King Shark, being a literal fish out of the water, introduced moments that made me chuckle. 

The game can also be praised for how the different characters allow for variations in gameplay. For example, when playing as King Shark, you’re far more likely to rely on melee, while Captain Boomerang is more of a sniper kind of guy. Kill the Justice League gets it right on this front, as the characters genuinely feel different when it comes to movement and attacking. 

Harley is quick and nimble, making her the perfect squad member for dodging attacks. King Shark, on the other hand, feels weighty and powerful, allowing you to feel more confident leaping into a sea of enemies. Suicide Squad manages to make having four playable characters justified through these differences, and it’s one of the more memorable aspects of the game. 

Characters feel even more different, and their strong points are improved when you spend Talents in the skill trees. The only problem is that it takes hours before the skill tree is even unlocked. Once again, we’re dealing with the problem of a slow start. It feels like the single-player campaign is just practice for the online multiplayer aspects, which should probably be discussed next. 

Error notice in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
Screenshot by Destructoid.

Unplayable at times

Suicide Squad implements live services, and it permeates everything. I’ve tried playing alongside others in Metropolis more than I usually would in public and though I didn’t enjoy it, that typically wouldn’t be something I’d penalize a game for. 

The problem that arises is that not everyone is interested in online play, yet a connection to Warner Bros. services is necessary to play at all. There are times when Suicide Squad will not connect to the server. This shouldn’t be a problem for a potentially single-player game, which, I believe, should not require the net constantly, at least not after whatever verification it might use only once, or to update.

The problem is that single-player folks will sometimes find themselves locked out of the game if it cannot connect to the WB services. It only happened to me twice, but the second time it happened for ages. This is ultimately a massive flaw in the game, as it does a disservice to single-player folks not interested in the online side of things. Rocksteady has stated there are plans to offer an offline mode, but there’s no solid ETA on the exact timing.

It’s not the first game to do it, and it won’t be the last, but it is unfathomably frustrating when it happens. Multiplayer games are cool, and of course they require an internet connection. However, if there’s a single-player campaign that’s a significant part of the title, I believe we shouldn’t be running into this problem.

Lex Luther in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
Screenshot by Destructoid.

Relentlessly ordinary

Suicide Squad reminds me of Forspoken in that both games aren’t terrible, but they’re not great games, either. They sit in that loathed middle spot of just being alright. Encounters meander into each other, with few making use of the squad’s potential, the environment is just a forgettable background, and the gameplay feels generally uninspired by the world of superheroes and villains guiding it.

As I stated previously, there is something splendid under it all. The Suicide Squad sports a cast of distinct kits and charming designs, but it’s all awash in a world they can’t play in. The writing is good, excellent even, but it’s stuck in a game plagued by live service annoyances. It’s a title that’s not offensive enough to hate, but it brings nothing new to the table and has a slow start. 

It would have been a better game with a higher score had it introduced more variety with its enemies, was less monotonous when it comes to missions, and handled its live services a little more smartly. Alas, we’re left with a title that teeters on the edge of being good but never quite gets there. 

Kill the Justice League is the epitome of, “it gets good X hours in.” It’ll suck at first, then it’ll show you it’s capable of at least some moments of awesomeness. Fans of the DC universe may find a little more value in it, especially if you value narrative over gameplay, but Rocksteady’s latest is simply okay – nothing more or less.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

6
Alright
Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.

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Author
Smangaliso Simelane
Staff Writer - Smangaliso Simelane is a writer with a passion for all things related to video games. He has been writing about video games since 2020.