Let’s absurdly assume that I have been living on a desert island for a good year: I have with me a 4K monitor, a PlayStation 5, and an Internet connection that I use to play games and watch movies and TV series. The only message I get from the real world is a newsletter updating me on the release dates of upcoming games. I don’t know anything about what’s going on outside my bubble. One day I am sent a nice code of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and I gas myself: kill – there is no other way – the DC’s most famous superheroes, Batman, Superman, Flash and Green Lantern because Brainiac has taken control of their brains, “F*ck I love shooters and playing the role of the bad guys really excites me!”
Mettiamo anche – sempre per assurdo – che non sappia alcunché riguardo le ultime vicissitudini dello studio Rocksteady (quelli della clamorosa trilogia di Batman Arkham), del travagliato sviluppo di questo looter-shooter in terza persona – uscendo dal campo dell’assurdo, se non ne sapete nulla, potete recuperare qualche info sulla pagina Wikipedia dedicata a Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League – ma soprattutto, che non sia a conoscenza di quanto è stato detto o scritto riguardo l’opera nell’ultimo periodo che ha preceduto la sua release.
I know that it is not at all easy to be able to close my eyes and stick out my ears so as not to be influenced by what happens outside my island. However, I believe that this choice of ignoring the big noise that Rocksteady brought with it and, consequently, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, is crucial to trying to analyze a game which, at the end of the day and as you may have read from the little number at the beginning of the article, I liked, despite the various limitations of this operation.
Kill The Justice League
From a narrative point of view, the story is quite clear: set in the city of Metropolis and in the DC universe, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League takes place five years after the events of Batman: Arkham Knight and as the supervillains Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and King Shark (the Task Force X), we are obliged to complete what, on the surface, seems to be a real Mission Impossible entrusted to us by Amanda Waller, who cunningly implanted lethal explosives in our heads, reason why we cannot disobey her orders: take out the Justice League corrupted by the aforementioned Brainiac.
There is no need to add more information about a tale that flows along quite well, entertains and fascinates thanks to the interaction among the four members of Task Force X: Harley Quinn is literally crazy and psychopathic, King Shark is the classic gruff guy with a heart of gold, Boomerang is the dick of the group while Deadshot is perhaps the most balanced and rational person in this cage of crazy people. The dialogues are mainly built around sharp, ramshackle jokes although there are plenty of violent and brutal moments, dramatic in some ways, that wake us up from the general fanaticism that permeates the atmosphere of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
This happens when the protagonists of the cutscenes – always well shot – are the superhero villains whose unscrupulous behaviors reminded me so much of those of their colleagues in the TV show The Boys or the comic book of the same name, from which the serial product takes its inspiration, created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Storytelling is a focal point that, in my opinion, needs to be focused on as it is the most convincing component of the production – setting aside the gunplay that we will discuss in the next section – which, however, clashes with the lack of variety in assignments that do not allow for the best immersion in the narrative.
With the exception of a couple of advanced quests – such as the one dedicated to Batman which takes on particularly psychological overtones and tries to mix things up a bit – the mission objective, whether primary or secondary, often results in a shooting relentlessly to kill the monsters roaming freely around the city of Metropolis (which would then be the inhabitants themselves). An objective that makes perfect narrative sense but is declined through the classic “defend the position until I have finished downloading this data” or “escort a truck carrying a bomb to the detonation point” or, more simply, “slaughter everyone“.
Suicide Squad: total destruction
The beginning of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League left me a little bewildered: good gunplay – shooting is more than convincingly – and Task Force X’s traversals of the map. You can actually feel the difference pad to hand in the fire mouths – how nice to feel the sheer power of the shotgun and then immediately switch weapons because you need an assault rifle to shoot from mid-range – and in exploration that varies according to the protagonist chosen: King Shark is heavy, massive, he makes kilometer-long leaps both horizontally and vertically while Boomerang teleports from one building to another by launching its namesake weapon.
One immediately notices a high verticality in the gameplay: one is constantly moving around, jumping from side to side across skyscraper rooftops, rolling to avoid a jumping attack. The key is to always try to be in an elevated position above the ‘array’ of enemies to riddle them from above. All this while explosions go off, bullets graze you, hit you and reduce your shield charge to the point of leaving you dying. There is little tactics but plenty of destruction: Kill the Justice League is pure chaos, and I struggled, at least at first, to identify the virtual alter ego that would allow me to best adapt to this gameplay.
Then I discovered Deadshot, the most balanced ‘hero‘ of them all, a relentless sniper who, thanks to his jetpack, allowed me to reach the sky to fire from sidereal heights in a triumph of headshots. Choosing Floyd Lawton however, meant giving up on leveling up the other characters as well since if one hero levels the others don’t go up automatically: to partially obviate this decision (which did not convince me completely), there are missions that can be confronted with a specific member of the Suicide Squad.
Little harm, because, in time, I started to gain those typical looter shooter satisfactions: rejoicing in having received as a gift from the Penguin a legendary sniper rifle with high damage and pinpoint accuracy (upgradeable by spending money and loot obtained in game), not to mention then the epic shield mods, freezing bombs and the special attacks that wipe out any threat.
Each character then has his or her own skill tree which in turn is divided into three different branches with different passive and active skills to be unlocked, thus allowing for considerable customization of the play style (as if it were an actual build). It cannot be said that there is a lack of quantity, and slowly I managed to get used to a gameplay that also does not disdain interesting mechanics such as interrupting mob offensives with a special strike moments before they fire or recovering shield points by fighting hand-to-hand.
One word: Chaos!
In short, in the new Rocksteady shooter forget any kind of strategy and embrace the devastation resulting from the destructive madness of the Suicide Squad. There is such chaoticness in the clashes (strictly at 60fps) that it led me several times to converse with my brain: “But in your opinion, do the advanced skills that are unlocked in the skill tree actually serve to get through shootings unscathed? How helpful are they?“. To try to answer these questions, I tackled with Boomerang first and Harley Quinn next – decidedly underleveled compared to my Deadshot – two main missions just before the end credits and still managed to prevail, simply by pulling the trigger of my Revolver wildly.
An overall uneven and unclear progression that nevertheless does not affect the overall enjoyability of the shooting stages that I really enjoyed in the middle part of my adventure. The main problem with Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is, as mentioned, repetitiveness in the structure of the missions – as well as a map that has very little to offer – such that, having arrived around 5 hours into the game (it took me about 9 to finish the campaign), I began to feel the monotony of the gameplay, now squeezed to the core, which is fortunately dampened by the Suicide Squad boss fight: Kill the Justice League, spectacular and violent and it is impossible not to mention at least the one vs. Superman or the initial one vs. Flash (by the way, here is the review of the latest DC movie about the Flash).
In co-op then, the fun doubles and so much of the reasoning we have done so far may as well go by the wayside. Therefore, it becomes really difficult to draw conclusions about the Rocksteady title even more so when we consider the upcoming new seasons, upcoming expansions, and so on: my hope is that Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League can evolve over time, enrich its content offerings so as to find the perfect balance between the variety of assignments and narrative elements that can boast of already being particularly solid.