Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Review

Richard Walker

When is an Arkham game not an Arkham game? When it's Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, the new one from Batman: Arkham developer Rocksteady Studios. By now, you'll be well aware of the discourse surrounding the game, some of which has verged on the hysterical. The thing is, Rocksteady's take on the Suicide Squad isn't nearly as bad as some would have you believe. In many ways, it's actually rather good, though in others, it's not. Granted, it can be repetitive, and some of the traversal mechanics are lacking, but Kill the Justice League is not without its charms. “A buncha' giant space dildos ain't gonna stop us!” Harley excitedly remarks at one point. Quite.

Predictably, the 'bad' things mainly relate to the game's live service component, which, like Marvel's Avengers before it, leaves you with a load of endgame stuff to wade through once you've completed the story. And it's Suicide Squad's narrative that stands out – after all, Rocksteady has proved on numerous occasions that it's more than adept at spinning a compelling yarn, and this is no different. As four members of the notorious Task Force X – a band of miscreants released from Arkham Asylum to aid the Squad’s duplicitous handler and clandestine government operative Amanda Waller in quelling a unique crisis – you're let loose in the city of Metropolis, armed to the teeth and issued a very clear set of mission parameters. It's in the game's title – Kill. The. Justice League.

It's a simple enough setup, and you're dropped right into the thick of the action from the off. There's little explanation as to how or why Brainiac arrived in his imposing 'Skull Ship' and managed to brainwash The Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, and Superman (or how Wonder Woman managed to escape unscathed), but you can find out in the five-part prequel comic book miniseries. During your jaunt across the towering skyscrapers and various landmarks in Metropolis, as Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark, you'll blast through a seemingly endless swathe of Brainiac minions, completing the same smattering of objectives.

Thankfully, bounding around Metropolis can often prove enjoyable, especially with Deadshot and his jetpack. Captain Boomerang, meanwhile, can throw his namesake throwing stick to gracefully speed and dash through the air; King Shark lumbers and leaps large distances; and Harley Quinn uses a discarded Waynetech Bat-Drone and grappling line to swing and zip hither about the place. Weapons are mix and match, but you're stuck with each character's means of traversal, and Deadshot's jetpack is by far the best way to get around. Consequently, I ended the story with a level 20 Deadshot, and the rest of the squad hovering around level 10-11.

Kudos to Rocksteady for making each character interesting at least, and for providing the ability to switch between Harley, Deadshot, Boomerang, and Shark on the fly, as long as you're not in the middle of a mission. Kudos too for a narrative that's probably best thought of as a separate thing to the Batman: Arkham games. These might be the same characters in the same universe, but they seem altogether different. Batman, under Brainiac's control, is the most all-pervading presence in the game, goading the Squad over the airwaves, and it's a real treat to hear the late, great Kevin Conroy revelling in the role, in what will sadly be one of his last ever performances.

This isn't the same Bruce Wayne or Bats, and Harley, too, has had a personality change, sharing more in common with Margot Robbie's portrayal on film than the character as seen in Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequels. Still, there are some good set pieces in here and some decent comical moments and dialogue – eventually, you'll warm to the ragtag Squad, as they're sent out on potentially fatal missions by the uncompromising Amanda Waller, played with gusto by Debra Wilson. Where Suicide Squad ultimately falls down is in the lack of variety, and the incongruity of certain elements. Like, for instance, the presence of Riddler puzzles and collectibles. Metropolis is on the verge of total destruction; do we really have time to be solving riddles?

Robust looter-shooter mechanics and an enjoyable gameplay loop succeed, to some extent, in staving off a sense of deja vu, as you take down another network of Brainiac incubators, rescue another bunch of trapped civilians, gather and deliver shards, escort a vehicle, or fight enemies with annoying modifiers restricting how you're able to deal damage (grenades only, critical hits only, etc.). The various systems are deep and interesting enough to keep you fiddling with each character's loadout, too, ensuring you have the best possible combo of two weapons, grenades, traversal mod, and other doodads that are unlocked as you level up each character.

On top of that, you can imbue your weapons with elemental 'Afflictions', enabling you to freeze, burn or send enemies into a Venom-induced frenzy, so you have plenty of tools at your disposal, ensuring combat remains interesting, even when the objectives aren't particularly inspiring. By the time you've finished Suicide Squad's story, completing the remit of the game's suffix via several fairly tricky boss battles, the 'Finite Crisis' endgame content kicks in, letting you off the leash to complete Incursion missions. To access Incursions, you'll need to first accumulate 'Promethium', which you then spend to travel to alternate Earths (known collectively as Elseworlds), where you face more of Brainiac's forces, albeit with various mutators adding a wrinkle to your mission.

The draw here is the chance to earn 'Bane Infamy' gear, which, when stacked, gives your loadout a boost. Get a few Incursions under your belt, and you can take on Mastery Levels, upping the level of difficulty in exchange for even better rewards. Like many a live-service game, Suicide Squad's endgame content doesn't really offer enough of an incentive to keep going back for more, although the promise of free playable characters, starting with Elseworlds Joker next month, might provide adequate reason to be coaxed back. Beyond all of that, the shooting and traversal that Rocksteady has cooked up is fun and immediate, even if you might find yourself occasionally getting snagged on scenery.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is something of a mixed bag, then. Rocksteady's considerable expertise in world-building and storytelling is plain to see here, and the minute-to-minute gameplay is good. What seems somewhat redundant are the live-service aspects of the game – when the story is the best part of your game, once you're done with that bit, the rest can feel rather aimless. Hopefully, updates will inject some much-needed variety into Suicide Squad, and, if Rocksteady can see its way to adding more story, then all the better. Regardless, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is solid co-op shooter fun – just don't expect something on a par with the previous Arkham games, and you'll be golden.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

Not nearly as irredeemable as you might think, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League actually has a lot of nice ideas and some nice, crunchy shooter mechanics. The endgame might fail to hold your attention, but the story is quite a ride while it lasts.

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Some nice music choices and energetic voice acting. It's great to hear Kevin Conroy relishing his final video game VO role as Batman, too.


A stunning-looking game boasting that Rocksteady polish. Characters look suitably expressive, while the game's besieged Metropolis is dense and detailed.


The game's looter-shooter systems and traversal mechanics are fun and intuitive. Being able to switch between characters at any time is a neat touch.


Metropolis is a big place, but the paucity of different objectives means you'll feel like you're doing the same thing a lot. More variety would have been nice.


There are a fair few here that require you invest a good few hours in the Finite Crisis endgame, which can be awfully repetitive. Settle in for a grind.

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