A star rating of 2 out of 5.

It shouldn't be a relief when you see the credits roll at the end of a video game. You want to feel satisfied with the experience you've had, not just glad that it's over so you can move onto other things.


Heck, in the best circumstances, you might even feel an urge to jump back in and hoover up post-game objectives.

With Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, it felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders when the credits came down and I could turn the damned thing off.

I had seen the game's bland story, and all the repetitive gameplay that threaded it together, through to its predictable conclusion.

And even though the game quickly served up a massive pile of post-game challenges for me, as well as threatening multiple seasons of DLC to follow, the thought of engaging in that held no appeal whatsoever.

More like this

This feels particularly sad to me on a personal level, as I have a lot of affection for Rocksteady's work in the Batman: Arkham trilogy. Those were terrific single-player, story-driven games with fun combat that blended brawling and stealth to great effect.

In fact, I only bought a PS4 back in the day when I found out that that Rocksteady's trilogy capper Arkham Knight wouldn't be launching on the older consoles. It was literally a system seller for me.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when the next major game from Rocksteady turned out to have one of the thinnest stories in recent AAA memory.

The premise itself could've been fun — DC heroes including Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and The Flash have all been brainwashed by an invading alien big bad, and it's down to the crooks on the Suicide Squad to take them down — but the delivery is just naff.

Batman, with glowing purple eyes and his thumb on a trigger, against a dark background.
Kevin Conroy's Batman, from the Arkham games, has taken a turn. Rocksteady / Warner Bros Games

The game starts and the alien invasion has already neared completion. You don't get to see Kevin Conroy's Batman turning bad, even though he was the main character in the previous Rocksteady games.

You don't get to meet the maniacal mastermind Brainiac until much later. You don't get to know Superman, Flash or Lantern at all. The set-up is the set-up and the game seems to have no interest in making you invest in it emotionally.

This could've been an acceptable loss if we did have reason to care about the four playable characters — Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, King Shark and Deadshot — but that doesn't happen either.

Their backstories are only ever mentioned in passing, and none of them really have a discernible character arc throughout the game. They bicker, they banter, and sometimes they share a high five. In a game with four playable villains, none of them even act like baddies.

Each of these antiheroes has their own style of combat, although the control scheme is very transferable between them. Harley uses her hammer for short-range attacks, while Deadshot uses wrist cannons, Shark uses his big fishy fists, and Boomerang uses... well... boomerangs.

And then for longer range attacks, there's a huge arsenal of guns, each of which is caked in a million different stats (it's easy to get bogged down trying to compare them, so I ended up just skimming the info and looking for green upward-facing arrows).

In this screenshot from Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, playable antiheroes King Shark, Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Boomerang all leap towards the camera. They are all wearing Arkham Asylum overalls.
The Suicide Squad having more fun than me. Rocksteady / Warner Bros Games

Sadly, I found the combat controls to be overly fiddly, with the game never feeling smooth on the sticks, and lacking that sense of rhythm and propulsion that you got with the dodging, countering and pummelling back in the Arkham days.

With the Suicide Squad game, combat just feels chaotic, with nameless space goons popping out of thin air and on-screen prompts consistently reminding you of what exactly you're meant to do to counter them. If you need to spell it out in words, throughout the entire game, your combat system could surely be refined and tidied up a bit more.

It doesn't help that the level design feels practically non-existent. While the Arkham games had tailor-made locations for Batman to explore as he pieced together mysteries and jumped between gargoyles unseen, most of the Suicide Squad game's action takes place outside in the open world.

Baddies will pop up on roofs as you try to complete rinse-and-repeat objectives like destroying power cells, rescuing civilians or guarding lorries. The screen will fill up with colours and noise as you frantically try not die, never really feeling like you've mastered or achieved anything.

Speaking of the open world, that's another area in which the game feels like a letdown. Metropolis feels like a dead city from the moment you first arrive there, and it never gets a chance to feel lived in. Civilians have either been captured by the baddies, are hiding off-screen, or have been frozen into crumbling rock like Pompeii victims.

Compare that to the living, breathing New York of last year's Spider-Man 2 and it's like comparing chalk and cheese (where one of those is really good and the other is dull as dishwater).

There's not much to look at or explore in this version of Metropolis, just shiny skyscrapers and statues of superheroes. I did appreciate the bright colour palette, but it never felt like a real city, and yet players spend most of their time here and are meant to be invested in saving the place.

Of course, our antiheroes are only really trying to save the place because their heads will blow up otherwise... but still, this feels like a weak first attempt at bringing Superman's home turf into the modern video game world. (Alas, a solo Superman game in a less empty version of Metropolis could've been really cool.)

You'll occasionally see evil Batman watching you from a rooftop — which is cool, to be fair — and you'll also hear messages from him alongside missives from The Riddler and Lois Lane.

There's a glimmer of a good idea in Lois's hopeful broadcasts, but it doesn't amount to much, and the return of those frustrating Riddler challenges feels like the weirdest possible thing to keep from the Arkham franchise. (His reason for leaving said riddles is also positively stupid.)

Another thing that doesn't help the city feel good is the fact that your traversal methods are all severely limited. While the Arkham games allowed you to glide around endlessly and feel cool while doing so, Suicide Squad wants to drag everything out for some reason.

Harley has a grapple gun but can only do one proper swing before needing to recharge it, while there are similar limitations on Boomer's tech-based speedster powers, Deadshot's jetpack and Shark's inherent Hulk-like jumping ability.

This means that even the gaps between levels, where you're simply trying to get from one place to another, aren't fun either (but you can later unlock traversal mods that might make it more bearable).

Again, compare this to Spider-Man 2 or any of the Arkham games and it feels like more of a downgrade than anything else. It just forces you to spend more time on ground level and rooftops, where baddies can spawn and bother you.

The Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League antiheroes look up at alien enemies on a raised walkway in this screenshot.
Get used to enemies in high places. Rocksteady / Warner Bros Games

Of course, it's worth remembering that Rocksteady weren't trying to make another Arkham game here, or even a game in that genre.

They were trying to make a looter shooter, with something of a Destiny or The Division 2 vibe, one of those group-friendly games that's designed to keep you coming back for more missions, bigger battles and better loot.

However, the fiddly gameplay and the blandly repetitive mission types don't make it feel like a fun version of a looter shooter either.

So, with (checks notes) over 1,000 words of negativity already penned and a sense of relief when I stopped playing it, how come we're not giving Suicide Squad one star? Well, it's worth saying that there are a few saving graces that provided moments of levity and enjoyment in amongst all the things I didn't like.

Suicide Squad clearly wasn't designed with my tastes in mind, but I could still tell that the graphics were pretty good and the performance was reliable most of the time.

I didn't encounter any major problems in that regard, with my biggest technical annoyance being that you couldn't play the game offline (this means that the 'Quick Resume' feature on Xbox basically doesn't work at all, with the game kicking you out for inactivity shortly after your attempt to resume).

King Shark, dressed as Superman, waves from inside a hot tub in this screenshot from Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
We stan a King (Shark). Rocksteady / Warner Bros Games

Another positive aspect is the voice acting, with the Suicide Squad cast gamely doing their best to keep you engaged.

Special shoutout to Nuufolau Joel Seanoa (AKA wrestler Samoa Joe), who voices King Shark and does great work in that Drax-like loveable fool role. Debra Wilson, who you may remember as Cere from the Star Wars Jedi games, also shines as Task Force X's furious self-proclaimed 'daddy' Amanda Waller.

There's also a certain quirky charm to the game — exemplified by the fact you can dress King Shark up as Superman and watch him celebrate a completed mission from the comfort of a hot tub — that makes it much more bearable than it could've been. The script, too, does its best to inject some fun along the way.

There are moments where it clicks and you get a glimpse of a better game, moments when the bantering dialogue will land on something actually funny and entertain you for a moment. Or an imaginative boss battle that will offer some much needed variety to your playthrough. But these moments are few and far between, and the stuff in between is not great.

In fact, I'd argue that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League feels like it could be dead on arrival. The gameplay isn't fun, the story is paper thin, and crucially it doesn't do enough to hook players in.

It could improve over time, but will Rocksteady be given enough rope by Warner Bros to turn the game around? Or will a couple of seasons come out, people gradually lose interest, and the plug get pulled within a couple of years?

The latter seems more likely — the game's all-time peak for concurrent players on Steam (13,459 people at the time of writing) is smaller than the peaks for Marvel's Avengers (31K) and Gotham Knights (24K), and neither of those games are still being supported.

Personally, I'd love to see Rocksteady move back in a single-player direction. It'd be nice to see them doing what they do best, rather than flogging a dead horse like Suicide Squad for any longer than necessary.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is out now on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. We reviewed on Xbox Series X.

Listen to our One More Life podcast and subscribe to our gaming newsletter for all the latest intel.

Looking for something to watch? Check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10 – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.