Video games have been around since the 1970s, and in all that time, there’s been one underlying rule: the controls must be good. If your controls are bad, your game is bad.
And yet, somehow, the good people at Rocksteady who made the open world, third-person superhero action game Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC) managed to get it from the drawing board to digital stores without ever asking anyone, “Are these controls good?” Because they’re not, and it’s that — among other things — which ruins what could’ve been an interesting game.
In Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League,
Brainiac has invaded Metropolis, and with The Superfriends not being themselves, it’s up to Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark to save the day…whether they like it or not.
For much of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, you — playing as your choice of anti-hero — have to get from one part of Metropolis to another, fighting any alien invaders that get in your way as you undermine Brainiac’s hold on the city. Which you do with a combination of melee and gun-based combat, often in concert.
The problem being that getting from one fight to another is downright annoying. Like any big city, Metropolis has a lot of tall buildings. But getting on top of them isn’t easy in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. Certainly not as easy as it should be.
Take Harley Quinn, for example.
Using one of Batman’s grappling guns, Harley can zip her way up onto rooftops, or, in conjunction with a Batdrone, swing like she’s Spider-Man. Except neither work as well, or as intuitively, as you might expect.
For one thing, both motions are contextual. Which makes sense; you can’t grapple onto a roof if there’s no roof to grapple onto. Too bad the buttons aren’t contextual as well. You use the right bumper to grapple, but the left to swing, as opposed to just one when it’s the right, well, context.
Adding insult to injury, this complexity doesn’t make any sense given that this is the same grappling hook Batman used in the Arkham games, which were also made by Rocksteady. Not only did this device work better in those games, but so did their controls.
while Harley also can’t string together swings — she’s not Spider-Harl — she can string together traversal moves. You just have to hit even more buttons, and in just the right way. Which would be fine if this was a platformer designed to test your reflexes, or a fighting game like Mortal Kombat 1 where you need to pull off a complicated combo to land a devastating attack. But when you’re just trying to do something basic like get from point A to point B…
And Harley has it easy in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. Trying to use Deadshot’s jetpack is like trying to fly a plane with a broken wing.
Only Captain Boomerang…
has an easy time of it, as he stole a personal teleportation device that’s very user friendly.
Even them having this equipment is a problem. You see, they stole these devices from Justice League. Specifically, from a museum in The Hall Of Justice. But why would the Justice League reveal their crime fighting secrets in such a public fashion? And even if they did, why would they leave them in perfect working order?
Going back to the needless complexity, it sadly doesn’t just impact traversal in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League.
As I mentioned,
combat is a mix of gunplay and melee. But rather than have the melee buttons be the “X” or other front buttons on the controller — y’know, like most melee games — you hit people by hitting the right trigger.
Not ideal, but not a problem. Or at least it wouldn’t be if you didn’t also use the right, in conjunction with the left trigger, to shoot your gun. Which, admittedly, doesn’t make fighting people in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League prohibitively difficult. But it is counterintuitive in a — say it with me — needless way.
Sadly, the needless complexity isn’t the only problem with Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. For one thing, it’s rather dull. And not just boring, it’s more lifeless. Lacking any kind of urgency or peril. Having a predictable story will do that.
The missions are EQUALLY BLAND.
There’s a lot of busy work, tons of redundancy, and bunch of dull skill challenges, as well as a bunch of missions that make me wonder if, at some point, this was going to be a multiplayer game in the vein of Fortnite.
Some of the characters are also off. And not just because Harley Quinn isn’t Spider-Man. She also doesn’t sound like herself. Instead of sounding like a ’40s dame or a broad from Brooklyn, she sounds like Sarah Silverman doing Vanellope von Schweetz in Wreck-It Ralph if Pixar didn’t pay her enough.
Maybe that’s why she looks like she’s on day 3 of a 7 day meth bender, as opposed to, say, a Barbie doll come to life.
Similarly when it comes to incongruities, why would a super intelligence like Brainiac design tanks, stationary turrets, and other devices to have their most vulnerable spots highlighted in purple?
Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League…
also has a serious technical issue that makes it annoying if you don’t play games from start to finish in one sitting. If you stop to, say, eat lunch or go to work or spend time with loved ones, you’ll find that the game has seized up when you come back to play, forcing you to quit and reload from your most recent auto save.
As if that wasn’t annoying enough, that auto save is often the one right before you started the last mission you completed before taking a break. So, have fun replaying some missions twice.
The irony being that while this problem is probably tied to Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League being an always-on live service game, it doesn’t have the other problems you usually get with those kinds of games, especially when you play solo. Not only are there options when it comes to the difficulty, but you can also pause the game when need be.
It also, if you play solo, gives you the option to switch between the characters, rather than locking you in to just one for the whole game.
Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League…
also has a problem so common that I basically just cut and paste the following paragraph into every relevant review: the text is too small. If you sit at a reasonable distance from your TV — y’know, like your mama told you to — you’ll have difficulty reading the instructions, the menus, and other important bits of text.
All of which makes Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League feel less like the natural evolution of the Arkham games and more like an installment of Saints Row. One of the bad ones; the first or the last.
That said, it is better than Gotham Knights. Just not by a lot. While I wanted to quit that game after half an hour, Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League didn’t break my spirit for at least 45 minutes.
But break my spirit it did.
And my heart. And my brain a little bit. Which is why, instead of being sent to take out Supes, Batsy, and the rest of the Superfriends, I wish I’d been sent to kill this game.