Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Review

In Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, the alien supervillain Brainiac has taken control of the minds of the Justice League heroes, and with their help has unleashed an invasion of Metroplis, turning the city into a warzone. Metropolis’ last hope? Four criminals released from Arkham and provided with the motivation to help by the bombs placed in their heads. Can these miscreants, used to working alone as villains, pull together and form a team of heroes to save Metropolis by killing the Justice League?

The four villains turned hero in the game are King Shark, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang, and they are all playable characters in what is a squad-based, third-person shooter. If you know anything about these characters, you might think you can guess which archetypical roles they fill in the game. You’re probably wrong. Gameplay-wise, the characters are far more similar to each other than they are different. Each character has two gun slots, a melee weapon, and grenades. There are three weapon classes, and each character has access to two of them, one for each slot. So, you may think that you’d need to play as Deadshot if you want to play as a sniper, but he’s not the only one who can wield a sniper rifle. Gameplay is very heavy on gunplay, occasionally interrupted by a grenade toss and, more rarely, a melee attack. The emphasis on gunplay means that for the most part playing as one character pretty much feels like playing as the other, as far as far as the combat goes. This feeling is compounded by the fact that there’s not a lot to distinguish one weapon from another. The differences come down to a set of stats and modifiers that have an effect on the dice rolls being made under the hood, but don’t have much of an effect on how it actually feels to wield them. For a game that dabbles in looter-shooter gameplay, the loot isn’t all that interesting.


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The characters each have their own skill trees, so after you’ve put some time into playing as one of them you can add a few new skills to add a bit of differentiation to the characters and playstyle. There’s not enough here to warrant multiple playthroughs as different characters, though. Too many of the skill upgrades are tied to stat increases and not enough to special abilities that could go a long way towards making the combat experience truly unique to each character.

Differences in play between the characters also show up a bit in their melee attacks and traversal skills. The melee attack differences are more a matter of style than anything else – King Shark likes being stabby and Captain Boomerang actually attacks with boomerangs when you press the melee button. Each character has a different set of traversal skills, but they all accomplish the same thing – allowing you to chew-up large chunks of Metropolis real estate or to quickly scale the walls of its buildings. King Shark starts with a charged pounce, Deadshot has a jetpack, Harley swings from cables she shoots at a Batwing that follows her around, and Captain Boomerang can throw a special boomerang that pulls him to its location. The controls for each are slightly different, but the concept is pretty much the same for everyone. Launch into the air, chain a couple of mid-air boosts together, and then come back down. I spent more time in the game playing as Captain Boomerang than anyone else simply because I found his traversal controls to be the most intuitive and easy to master. All characters can also run straight-up walls, scaling tall buildings with ease. If the game explained why this is possible, I must have missed it.

The game’s recreation of Metropolis is more open-mission than it is open-world. Story and side missions are selected from a map screen, and then you’re dropped into the area of the city where the mission takes place. You have the freedom in a lot of these missions to decide how you want to reach your objectives and battles often cover a city block and several rooftops, so you have plenty of tactical options as well. All that you will encounter are enemies, though. The alien invasion has cleared the streets of people and traffic, and you can’t enter the buildings. Once you complete a mission, you’ll be taken back to the map to select the next. The Riddler makes the occasional appearance to add some variety to the gameplay by offering up a series of challenges. They don’t really make a lot of sense from a narrative perspective, but they do provide for some much-needed diversion from the endless alien slaughter.


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Not everything takes place on the streets, though – some of the game’s story missions take you to special locations. The story events in these missions mean that you’ll have a more linear experience with them than you do when you’re out in the street hunting aliens. The story missions are the most interesting, primarily because there’s some variety to them. The side missions have similar kill this/destroy that objectives that make them all coalesce into somewhat of a blur when you’re done with them. This is unfortunate for both you and the game. Kill the Justice League is a live-service game, meaning that you have to connect to the game servers whenever you want to play and that WB Games wants you to keep coming back for more once you’ve finished the story. If the missions aren’t varied enough to keep your interest while you’re making your way through the story, they’re not going to be compelling enough to keep you coming back for more afterwards. Seasons may add more content in the future, but for now there doesn’t seem to be anything worth going through a grind for. Why endlessly repeat the dullest missions from the campaign?

Unfortunately, even if you just want to play through the story, you’ll need to be connected to the game servers to do so. It wasn’t all that unusual for me to have to go through a couple of minutes of aborted connections and game restarts before I was connected to the servers and able to play. Providing servers for those who want to buy cosmetics or look for gamers to join them in co-op play is great, but forcing someone who just wants to play through the campaign on their own to connect to a server first is just annoying. It’s not like this is Diablo IV or Destiny 2, either – there aren’t social spaces or other players running around Metropolis with you (outside of your co-op partners). There are only four player characters in this world, after all.

Suicide Squad could have been a much better game if it simply stuck to being a story-focused game with support for four-player co-op. The need to shoehorn repetitive grind missions into the game so that they could be recycled endlessly for live-service content obviously distracted from the development of a richer story and environment. The focus on weapons to support the kind of gear grind that keeps some players compelled to keep playing live-service games took the focus off of the characters, and making each one truly unique to play. I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel, one without live-service aspirations and a focus giving each character a unique play experience, but after the disappointment that is Kill the Justice League, I think it will be a while before we see another Suicide Squad game.

Final Rating: 66% - Live-service is the cause of death of the Suicide Squad.

 

Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.