Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League hasn’t exactly set the world alight. Rocksteady Games’ follow-up to its Batman Arkham series has garnered nothing but controversy since we discovered it’s a live service looter shooter. I can’t say whether it’s worth your hard-earned money with only three hours under my belt. What I can tell you, though, is that its bloody terrifying Batman will keep me in the game for hours to come.
We always knew there would be a tonal shift from Batman Arkham to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. You play as four notorious criminals, after all. Reminding you of this at every turn are profanity, graphic violence, and crude gestures. It would feel gratuitous in most other media, but I welcome it compared to David Ayer’s watered-down film adaptation. Besides, when the world’s gone to hell, why should they care?
Each character is brimming with personality. King Shark is an outsider who spends his time learning human customs. He sometimes plays off a little like Guardians of the Galaxy’s Drax with his naivety, but it’s charming when it works. Captain Boomerang is the loud fool comedian who’s full of himself, yet a pathological liar and coward. Deadshot is his foil as the level-headed yet selfish and serious leader. And Harley Quinn is, well, the same nutty clown from the previous games.
Surprise, surprise: your mission is to kill the Justice League. Against all odds, Brainiac has enslaved DC’s elite roster of superheroes and vigilantes to do his bidding. Seeing an evil Superman is a dime a dozen with Injustice and clones like Homelander. Getting a peek at an evil Batman, however, is something to behold.
Fans weren’t particularly enthused that the late Kevin Conroy’s penultimate voice role is so different from what we know. I get it. Arkham Knight capped off a near-perfect trilogy. Bringing him back seems like it’d be a disservice to the story. I somewhat agree to an extent. The game glosses over Bruce Wayne’s return from the grave, albeit in a clever way. It’s also difficult to believe this is the same character we played for all those years.
Throw aside your hang-ups about strict continuity, though, and this is the most interesting version of Batman in decades. We’ve had the power trip of being the Caped Crusader; now we can experience what it’s like to be at his mercy. The shoe is firmly on the other foot, as you’re now the goons you once stared at from atop a gargoyle.
At the start of his career, Batman was a sort of boogeyman in the criminal underworld. Sticking to the shadows, this myth status created an air of paranoia, keeping criminals looking over their shoulders. Although that part of his career is long gone and everyone knows who’s behind the cowl, the feeling is very much alive the first time you run into him.
One thing that’s been consistent for the Caped Crusader over recent decades is his one rule: Batman doesn’t kill. You can kiss that safety net goodbye, as Rocksteady proves no holds are barred. Armed with a flashlight in the pitch-black darkness, you can search the scaffolding, but you won’t find him. Just like you did in Batman Arkham, he’ll pick you off one by one like a bunch of pathetic, no-name henchmen. It’s not quite the next Alien: Isolation, and it’s a mere five minutes of the game, but it sticks out as my favourite part so far.
It might seem weird to gush over losing a fight, but it’s a refreshing change of pace. I never knew I needed Batman to hand my arse to me. Now that he has, I’m sold. I can forgive the bland Metropolis rooftops and frustratingly samey enemies, so long as I experience a little more of the engaging story. I’m not sure the game will live up to its promise of seasonal content without a solid narrative backing the DLC. For now, though, I’m happy to say this is a Rocksteady game through and through.