Suicide Squad - Kill The Justice League (multi-format, Warner)
WITH multiple delays, the studio’s co-founders jumping ship and review codes withheld until the last minute, you didn’t have to be Batman to work out that the deck was stacked against Rocksteady’s latest foray into videogame comic bookery.
And, in an age of superhero fatigue at the fleapits, it doesn’t help that Suicide Squad hasn’t exactly set the world alight.
Nine years on from the conclusion to their incredible Arkham trilogy, Rocksteady return with a live service-driven DC-fest of open-world shooting and grinding for perks that couldn’t be further from Batman’s gloriously single-player adventures.
With Superman and his allies corrupted by the villainous Brainiac (hello to Jason Isaacs), the Suicide Squad are busted out of jail by a shadowy organisation that forces our ragtag bunch of ne’er-do-wells to murder the warped do-gooders and save the world.
Playing as King Shark, Harley Quinn, King Boomerang or Deadshot, gameplay amounts to little more than zipping around a rather barren open-world Metropolis, duffing up goons and bosses.
One for the Ritalin-jacked Fortnite crowd rather than chin-stroking Comic Book Guys, its rogues’ ruckus can be enjoyed solo or with three others, and while each character has unique abilities, the emphasis on guns renders them virtually identical.
Suicide Squad’s 12-hour narrative acts as a boot camp for future content, drip-feeding systems to players as a gateway drug to its post-game seasons, which begin in March.
Given it’s a loot-based online game, there’s a bewildering number of layers to the combat as you accumulate buffs, boosts and assorted trinkets to improve its melee, counter and shield systems – and these live service trappings weigh heavily on Suicide Squad.
Whereas the Arkham trilogy was a masterclass in story-driven superheroics, Suicide Squad is a neon muddle of Battle Passes, in-game currency, outfits, emotes and all manner of virtual tat.
Glimmers of Rocksteady’s brilliance still manage to shine through, though, with flawless production values (especially in its Hollywood- worthy cut-scenes), rhythmic combat and, being Suicide Squad, surprisingly yuksome comedy chops.
Stomping noisily through the DC-verse, Suicide Squad’s lurid slice of superhero craic is a far cry from Rocksteady’s Gotham heyday: with goofy, day-glo point ‘n’ shoot action and none of Arkham’s brooding intensity, Tim Burton must be spinning in his grave (I just assume he sleeps in one).
And, following his death in November, it marks Kevin Conroy’s final vocal performance as Batman. With 32 years as the Dark Knight under his utility belt, no other actor has played the role for so long.
As a live service game, Suicide Squad is, well, serviceable, coasting by on the strength of its writing and glossy production.
Whether you’ll hang around for future content is up to Rocksteady’s post-launch drip-feed.