- The overall quality of Suicide Squad suffers from it being a live-service game.
- Rocksteady was unable to effectively & satisfactorily convey the events that took place in the 5-year gap.
- The writer’s bias led to the questionable depiction of the Justice League’s fall at the hands of normal people.
Note: I will be discussing spoilers for Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League in this article.
Rocksteady shook the landscape of superhero games back in the late 2000s with Batman: Arkham Asylum. It went on to be hailed as the genre’s savior and redefined what these titles could achieve. The Arkham series left a monumental mark, with many trying to replicate that formula for success in vain. Fast forward to the present, the studio appears to be in the exact opposite situation due to Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League.
But why is that the case? You’d think it’s because Batman got shot in the head and that makes no sense; in that case, you’d be correct. In my opinion, however, the problem runs far deeper than just that. If only the crux of this issue was addressed, Suicide Squad would be seen in a far more positive light.
The Core Issue With Suicide Squad Is Its Live-Service Model
Embracing the live-service model with Suicide Squad was Rocksteady’s greatest folly. If I’m being honest, it’s not entirely the devs’ fault when WB, the parent company, has decided to get on the “always online” gear. Having said that, what the developers could’ve done was to keep their legacy in mind and try to respect it as much as possible. Did they do that? Unfortunately, no.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—the live-service model isn’t inherently bad. It’s the companies involved that have their priorities all messed up which results in an experience that’s not up to par with industry standards. Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League and Arkham Knight have almost a decade between them. Technology has come a long way since 2015 and as consumers, we have a right to demand value & quality for our money.
Rocksteady made a washed-out, looter-shooter experience when the market had solid competitors. Capcom‘s Exoprimal alone puts the smackdown on Kill The Justice League. To top it all off, the studio is built on the legacy of delivering a premium AAA experience. Sure, a game can be fun. Even bad games can be enjoyable at times but that doesn’t change the facts. Asmongold sums it up perfectly in his reaction to the popular comparison video.
Coming from the Arkham series and having live-service games out there with far better gameplay, I can’t get myself to stick with Suicide Squad just because it’s a little fun. Not only is the gameplay barebones, the missions are repetitive and the Arkham universe feels disjointed all of a sudden. That’s the next problem.
Being A Sequel To Arkham Knight Makes It Feel Fragmented
Playing Suicide Squad felt like I woke up out of a coma and somehow got amnesia. To set the record straight, let’s do a quick recap of the series’ latest events. The finale of Arkham Knight sees Bruce unmasked by Scarecrow on national television. Having gone public, Bruce overpowers the Joker toxin, dispatches Crane, and activates the Knightfall protocol. After taking care of everything in Gotham, he then walks into Wayne Manor as we see it blow up, creating the illusion of his death.
Suicide Squad takes place five years after that and it does an abysmal job of conveying that missing story. It was already established that the DC heroes existed in the Arkhamverse due to the myriad references in the earlier games. But a few recordings in a museum aren’t enough for something as huge as the formation of the Justice League and the return of Batman. His being alive was already confirmed in a comic but that’s where the problem starts.
Years of isolation are bound to have effects on a person, even on one as resilient as Bruce. During those five years, Superman saved the Bat and formed the Justice League. Bruce left Gotham and moved to Metropolis if the in-game recordings weren’t wrong and the League went on some missions to save the planet, Brainiac somehow got in contact with his multiversal counterparts, began his invasion, and got the heroes under his control.
You’re telling me all of that happened in 5 years but there’s no buildup to that? I felt no impact seeing the League fall from grace. Having seen nothing of the team, all of a sudden I’ve been tasked to kill them. To me, it makes zero sense from a writing perspective. The narrative gap between Arkham Knight and Suicide Squad is just too vast to justify a task as monumental as killing the Justice League.
If I’m being honest, I don’t mind seeing them die. Things happen and even heroes lose at times even if it always ends on a good note. Plus, it’s not as if the Justice League hasn’t suffered before. One of my favorite DC universes is the DCAMU. In case you didn’t know about it, look up Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and go from there. Leaks for the game seem to indicate that Flash might change the timeline.
Coming back to Suicide Squad, it’s how you kill them that matters to me, how you build up to such a profound event. You know these heroes are icons and flatlining them, even for shock value, will cause ripples. Why then would you purposely botch the whole thing up despite having immense potential in your hands? That’s the next issue preventing the game from being the good kind of spotlight.
Nerfing Arkham Batman, Undermining The League & “Going Woke”
I’ll get one thing out of the way first. In my opinion, some instances in Suicide Squad are rather two-faced. While I don’t think there’s a lot of subliminal messaging in the game, certain scenes in the context of the modern world lead me to believe otherwise. That said, I have zero issues with seeing Wonder Woman take center stage. What I have problems with is the portrayal of the squad, the way Rocksteady treated the League, and the inconsistent nerfing of Arkham Batman.
First, the scene in Act One of the game. Boomerang is frozen by one of Luthor’s inventions. Shortly after, King Shark and Deadshot follow suit. Harley then proceeds to grab Deadshot’s behind instead of helping them get free. Now, if this was real life or if the roles were reversed, we all know how things would go. There’s no need to play pretend or avert your eyes. I’m also aware that it’s more or less in line with Harley’s character but I digress.
Moving on to the second point—Justice League’s treatment. I firmly believe in respecting heroes. Both in comics and real life, they are symbols that uphold values. It’s hardly the first time they’ve faced such gruesome trials but the League holds a special place in the hearts of many, including mine.
However, the disrespect was utterly repulsive. Boomerang attempts to urinate on The Flash, Green Lantern rolls over in a rather humiliated manner before being shot in the head and having his finger ripped off, Superman gets treated to a hail of bullets, and even Batman gets pumped full of lead. See how repetitive that is? I had to switch up the vocabulary but hopefully, it got the point across.
You can argue all you want about it being a title where the core systems involve shooting but that raises the age-old question—what were they thinking? We saw how The Flash toyed around with the convicts before tearing Luthor from his exosuit and shortly after, ripping his heart out. Yet for some reason, he had to run circles and create a tornado for the Suicide Squad because they’re just that strong, right?
Then we have Superman, the Man of Steel. I know, kryptonite is his weakness, and the squad was decked out in gear made from a golden, enhanced version of the material. Having said that, the guy can practically bench the planet and he’s been modified by Brainiac. What’s stopping him from annihilating the Suicide Squad? He even says lines about that during the boss fight before rolling over.
If you’re going to invoke the “it doesn’t translate well into gameplay” card, think about why that’s illogical first and foremost. As a side note, I’m convinced that a Superman game is possible at this point. If you’re going to treat the Man of Steel like that, you might as well stop making excuses and give the people a premium, AAA Superman game.
Lastly, Rocksteady did a fantastic job of nerfing Arkham Batman in Suicide Squad. Canonically, this version of Bats has some phenomenal feats under his belt. I would say that overcoming the Joker Toxin and Scarecrow’s fear gas in Arkham Knight along with the one-night Gotham Cleanup takes him up there. If you’re going to make this version of Bruce kill people including Robin, I don’t see how the Squad can beat him when he’s unchained.
It’s inconsistent writing and makes zero sense no matter how you slice it. Stan Lee once said that it doesn’t matter who we think will win in a fight among comic book characters. Why? Because it’s the writer who decides that. After what happened in Suicide Squad, I agree.
Having said that, here’s what I think should have happened instead.
What Rocksteady Should Have Done With Suicide Squad
Back when Gotham Knights came out, some elements of it were appealing to me but it fell flat overall. Never thought I’d be saying this a couple of years later but it handled Batman a lot better than Suicide Squad. With that out of the way, here’s what I believe Rocksteady should have done with its latest Arkham project.
First, it needs to be understood that the unmasking and subsequent “death” of Arkham Batman was a huge deal. Furthermore, the Justice League’s formation is a monumental event that deserves its own game. Rocksteady should have released a AAA game centered around Superman saving Bruce and introducing him to the other heroes as they form a team in the face of imminent danger. It’s similar to the plot of the animated series from the late 90s and early 2000s.
Afterward, a couple of DLC packs could set the stage for Brainiac’s arrival and the League’s fall thus building up to the events of Suicide Squad. Beyond that, Rocksteady could have handled the deaths of these icons a lot better than it did but I digress.
At the end of the day, I still believe that this game could have been the definitive Rocksteady experience. Not that it’s going to happen anymore, at least not in the way it could have.
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