Rocksteady has finally released Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. The most anticipated game since the Arkham series, after a very ‘rocky’ start at the initial game launch. The fans are not happy about it… to say the least!
This article aims to remain as spoiler-free as possible. However, discussing certain aspects of the game might reveal some spoilers. But as the saying goes, ‘The Devil is in the details.’. The intent is to avoid spoiling the overall experience for readers. Readers who are either contemplating buying the game or have just started playing.
While negative reviews and impressions are flooding in, this article will objectively and rationally explore various aspects of the game. It’s not to suggest that those vehemently disliking the game are entirely wrong but it is very important as a gaming website to maintain impartiality.
Let’s start from the beginning.
In the gaming world and its history, it is pretty much well-established that whenever a company/studio is going through internal issues, the majority of the time it is going to affect the product in production. Dan Houser leaving Rockstar Games, massive layoffs and disgruntled employees complaining about overtime workload are a few of the issues that can cause delays. The downgrades or a complete tone shift in games/products are a few other reasons as well.
While Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League was in production, two of Rocksteady Studios’ co-founders, Sefton Hill and Jamie Walker, left the company. Whatever the reason for their departure may be, it seems likely that it did affect the production. Probably the overall concept of the game as well. This was expected to be the next big thing for the studio following the success of the famous Arkham series. The Arkham series achieved great success because of its single-player, story/narrative-heavy gameplay with moments that left fans in awe. Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, much to fans’ surprise, is a complete departure from its predecessors.
It is a co-op multiplayer online service-based game with a story attached somehow.
Fans of the studio and their games believe that the resignation of the co-founders might have influenced this tone shift in the game. Of course, nobody can confirm this yet, but it could very much be a possibility.
The studio extended the release date from the initially set date, citing the need for more time to improve the quality and provide the “best quality experience” for the players.
However, despite the internal issues in the studio and the delays, the game’s trailer received a lot of praise from fans, increasing the hype for the game.
The trailer revealed some hints of the story, which was something interesting for fans to anticipate before the release. The “story” section of the article will further discuss more details.
The Studios was ‘rocked’ instantly when the game was finally released on January 30, 2024. Many gamers, among the first to play the game upon logging in encountered a glitch that completed the entire storyline. As more players started noticing the same glitch, the studios pulled the game back. They took some time to address the issue before releasing the game again.
It is worth noting that games generally can have glitches and bugs in the beginning that studios and companies fix along the way. However, these glitches are usually minor and do not significantly hinder the overall gaming experience. In this case, it was something very serious.
Encountering the complete story in their first login ruined the excitement and anticipation for many players, typically undermining the overall experience. Such issues often dent the game’s reputation, attract negative publicity, and subject it to scrutiny by fans. Gamers are typically forgiving of glitches and issues if they are not as glaring as this particular one. A close example is the disastrous release of Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt Red in 2020. Despite having a decent story, the glaring bugs and glitches turned fans against it. The co-founder of the company had to issue an apology to all the fans.
With the ‘Completion glitch,’ Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League has followed the same path of negative attention. Unlike Cyberpunk 2077, which had a solid single-player story to rely upon after fixes, Suicide Squad did not have much to offer to redeem its lost reputation. Adding context, despite all the initial glitches and bugs, Cyberpunk 2077 now has 9/10 ratings across different websites and platforms after improvements, whereas Suicide Squad, even after improvements, stands around 4.5 to 5 out of 10.
No company intends for their games to fail; everyone wants their product to make money because it is their name, time, and money on the line. The article acknowledges that employees of Rocksteady Studios have done a decent job in some aspects that are still receiving praise despite all the hate and mockery.
Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League runs on Unreal Engine 4, and the visuals and graphics are among the very few things that are quite decent. The overall feel of the environment fits the type of story the studio was aiming for.
The deterioration of the city of Metropolis over the course of the game, from being a successful and lived city to a broken and barren land, aligns well with the overall story and narrative of the game.
The camera angles in the game for cutscenes and transition scenes look unique and engaging. The creative team has done a decent job showcasing new ways angles can be used. Lighting is also one of the positive features of the visuals. In one segment of the story, where the four lead members have to navigate a dark, tight space. The creative team has done an excellent job creating a sense of horror and jump scares through the use of lighting and darkness.
Expanding on the visuals, the character model design and features of the main characters are well-made and well-designed. The expressions and movement of the facial muscles and the entire body look on point.
However, when it comes to the enemies (or the lack of them), the assessment is that the creative team either got lazy or ran out of ideas. The enemies lack diversity and real depth, appearing as a bunch of deformed entities trying to find their footing. They are only purple glowing figures with no substance.
The slow-motion animations in the game look decent, though. The slow-motion finishes showcase well-crafted scenes. They include slo-mo punches to the face, knife slicing and piercing the skin and engaging bloody kills.
The creators have attempted to incorporate rated-R elements into the story that draw similarities from Deadpool movies and games. While this sounds like a good idea, they missed the storytelling aspect. One cannot properly showcase gore and violence without a good context and setting and expect to sell it to the fans.
The story in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is exactly as the title suggests: kill the Justice League. The premise sounds promising if the story has a solid foundation and reasons to justify eliminating the original Justice League. To eradicate the ultimate superhero lineup of DC Comics, one must provide solid reasoning. While historically, the creation of the Suicide Squad implies they serve as a second-tier defense system for the DC Universe world if the first-tier superheroes are unavailable, the reasons for their absence feel half-baked and disrespectful to the Justice League itself.
The justification for the Justice League’s absence to protect the world is peculiar, to say the least. Without revealing specific details, it’s safe to say the reasoning should have had its own background visuals to better narrate how the mighty Superman turned evil in the first place. Considering that his only weakness is a rare stone found somewhere in space it is nearly impossible for anyone to turn him into an evil Superman.
Batman’s treatment is similarly underwhelming, if not more so. Moreover, the way Batman is “defeated” seems highly disrespectful as well. He was the main character of the previous games in the Arkham series after all.
Moreover, the story or the game lacks a definitive end; it just continues on.
When players believe they have finally completed the game, they suddenly realize that it is a live service game. And it’s just the first season! There are multiple more, and a story with a lack of substance will continue.
Gamers and reviewers believe that even if the story intended to eliminate the top-tier Justice League superheroes or portray them as turning bad/evil, it should have been justified. If a bunch of mid-tier bad guys from the DC Universe can defeat the final boss step by step. Then surely it would not have been much of a challenge for arguably the most powerful superhero across all comic book superheroes. Superman could have easily eradicated the entire threat within days due to the super strength and power he possesses. The story never properly explains how he was mind-controlled with such ease.
The stakes just never seem that high. The next section, The Gameplay and Mechanics, will discuss the reasons for this.
GAMEPLAY AND MECHANICS
If gamers and fans of games in general have learned one thing in recent times, it’s that live service and story-based aspects do not blend well. On the surface, the idea of a live service game seems appealing because it promises the continuous release of new content for everyone’s favourite game. However, the meaning of live-service games has taken a different direction lately, focusing on loot boxes, in-game currency, and purchasing and unlocking items with real money. This type of live-service aspect cannot work well with a sequel to a highly acclaimed single-player narrative-driven game. Fans are deeply disappointed because of this more than anything. Rocksteady Studios could have continued with the same gameplay concept with minor changes in the narrative, and everything would have been just fine.
Rocksteady should have learned from the disaster of Marvel’s Avengers game, released back in 2020. They made the same mistake by merging a story-driven narrative with co-op live service gameplay. It just all went downhill from there. The article does not undermine the importance of this new meaning of live service games. It simply aims to distinguish genres that do not complement each other. Games like Fortnite, PUBG, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 can be played without the need for a story or narrative because they are on-the-go games. A game that is a sequel to the Arkham series is not one of those games, and should not be one.
The gameplay of the game is found to be repetitive to the point of becoming boring after a while. It is an open-world game, but the world feels rather small. The areas and places look almost identical, and the missions are nearly identical as well, with the same enemies constantly appearing on building rooftops. The mission design lacks diversity.
Most importantly, the missions don’t align with the intensity of the story depicted in the cutscenes. For example, Superman and Wonder Woman engage in an intense battle, destroying buildings and structures, soaring through the skies, and unleashing blasts. But in the gameplay missions, players encounter average-looking enemies shooting from a distance with normal guns. Both the things a stark contrast. This discrepancy makes little sense.
It’s a type of game in which players don’t need to engage in missions to enjoy the story; they can simply watch a montage of cutscenes for a more entertaining experience.
Combat in the game is decent but ultimately useless. Why bother engaging in complex combat moves and finishes against enemies with low AI when players can stand back and shoot from afar for faster kills? Enemies pose no real threat; they merely serve as minor obstacles players must clear to reach the next cutscene.
Additionally, why include Fortnite-esque dance moves for characters like Deadshot? While it might be understandable for Harley Quinn given her character arc, it seems out of place for Deadshot, known for his serious demeanour. It detracts from the overall experience, making characters seem like Fortnite caricatures rather than staying true to their established personalities.
The default HUD and gameplay screen are overwhelming for most players. Cluttered with health bars, shoot-and-kill XP, maps, constant warnings, and mission updates. While players have the option to disable unnecessary elements, the fact that the creators selected all to be at the default setting is surprising. One must not overdo the unnecessary!
Furthermore, the neon-coloured laser beams emitting from almost everywhere confuse players, making it hard to focus amidst the chaos.
In trying to innovate, Rocksteady Studios went overboard.
VOICE ACTING AND DIALOGUE
The voice acting in the game is excellent. The interaction among the characters, especially among the main characters – the four antagonists, is enjoyable and engaging. The dark humour in the interactions and dialogues resonates well with the high-quality voice acting. Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang particularly excel in this aspect, while the others also deliver their performances quite effectively.
The game could have been better, but sadly, that’s not the case. There are more glaring negative aspects than positive ones. The game’s issues completely deter the interest of gamers who are expected to play for more seasons to come. It’s challenging to determine exactly how many players will stick with the game until the last season. But judging from reviews and the overall gaming community’s reaction, the slope is only going to go downwards.
Marvel’s Avengers had an all-time Steam player peak of over 28 thousand, despite being almost four years old. While Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League’s all-time peak is barely over 13 thousand. This is even worse than the number of games that have been dead for some time with delisted live-service servers. Unfortunately, this game is highly likely to face a similar fate soon unless developers make drastic changes in upcoming seasons/updates.
The worst part is that this game has tarnished the reputation of the Arkham series. The series is one of the top-rated series in the gaming world. It brought significant recognition for Rocksteady Studios, but all seems to be ruined, at least for now.
In conclusion, people may wonder, “Should I play this game?” Well, of course. No gaming article should discourage gamers from playing games. However, it’s advisable to wait for the game to go on sale before purchasing it. And don’t worry, this game will undoubtedly go on sale very soon. It has to if it wants to survive for another major update. It’s just not worth the price at the moment.