By George Curley
Any avid gamer will know about the imminent release of the latest action-shooter game, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Developed by Rocksteady Studios, the same group that is responsible for the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham series, this instalment is a spin-off from those games.
This is based on the DC comics with four playable supervillains: Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Harley Quinn and King Shark, they are tasked by Amanda Waller to go to Metropolis to, you guessed it, kill the Justice League after they were brainwashed by the alien invader Brainiac.
This a whole new type of game for Rocksteady after their recent shakeup in staff and executives in 2022, which subsequently detracted massively in gameplay, story craft and ethics from their past iterations. Needless to say, Rocksteady – like most developer studios nowadays – are heavily more money-oriented and has been infected with what I like to call the ‘live-service virus’. With review codes seemingly scarce for all the typical media companies just days before its repeatedly postponed release, and gameplay being monotonous and unvaried, scepticism is a normal response in reply to the purchase of this game, but this shouldn’t be definite, and it may be worth the gamble, still.
Suicide Squad, Kill the Justice League metaphorically represents where the gaming scene is now financially, but to understand this we must go back to its debut announcement in August 2020.
People were expecting to see Rocksteady head up a new Superman game following on from their successful campaign with Batman, but as we can see, the game isn’t that, but it didn’t matter.
It looked exciting, a fresh take on the Arkham-verse, featuring some old faces but some new gems. A ragtag ensemble of villains all with differing personalities, that we get to play as. Two years later, the fans begged for an update on the game, to which the developers succumbed. However, it was one of the worst kind of updates that a fan could hear: a release delay. From 2022 to early 2023, specifically on May 26th.
Throughout this time frame, a similar game was released: Gotham Knights, developed by WB Games. A game with similarly high hopes, which slumped to mediocre reviews from most companies. The reviews were based on repetitious gameplay, subpar graphics, and a nonsensical crafting component. As well as lacking fundamental values usually found within a game of this sort, it also didn’t meet console requirements to run at some of the most basic thresholds that have been made common law by the gaming community since the PS5 and Xbox Series One released.
To this day, the game runs at 30fps (frames per second) at 1080p (screen resolution) quality, a poor showing for a game demanding £60 of your money on its release.
This made fans less hopeful of Suicide Squad, as the aforementioned game was set in the same universe and was rumoured to have similar mechanics. However, the faith was still there thanks to the fact that it was Rocksteady who was making the game, they needed no introduction and historically held a steadfast approach to game development. However, in 2023, it was announced that the game would need an internet connection to play even if you were playing solo, and it would have a paid, cosmetic-based battle pass.
On face value, it doesn’t fit. It’s a superhero game, and Rocksteady have its reputation primarily because of the single-player Batman games that are heavily storyline-situated. This is an adverse step away from what they are known to be good at.
Delay after delay, the game had a true announcement of the release date: February 2nd, 2024. As a natural precursor to the game’s release, Rocksteady put out a three-part insider series based on what the game has to offer, a kind of olive branch to its fans that have long been left in the dark. They also held obligatory hands-on previews to outlets across the world, letting them feast on the open-world looter shooter. Afterwards, they were allowed to give their thoughts to the fans, but it wasn’t what Rocksteady had hoped for.
‘Rocksteady’s trademark world-building is being held back by trend-chasing’.
The test received mostly negative reviews about the game’s traversal, boring missions, generic action, and a lack of variety within the game as a whole. A tumultuous uproar came from those wanting the game to succeed.
At the time of writing this, the game releases in 3 days’ time, but those who pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition of the game were able to get hold of Early launch access today (30/1). And so, because there are a lot of people that bought this version of the game, people have begun playing – only to be met with this.
The beauty of needing to have an internet connection to play, eh?
Even if you’re lucky enough to get past this message, the satirically painful reality is that there are some cases of players entering the game with 100% completion. Not just story completion, but completion of everything there is to complete in the game. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a game that’s fully completed when you log in. What kind of code are they putting into this?
And how about the lack of reviews? We’ve had none. Reviews are a massive part of any game’s commercial success and Rocksteady, to put it plainly, just isn’t giving out review codes… to anyone. Not one prominent reviewer has got a code, to which extent IGN had to put out an article complaining about the lieu of a review on their social channels. It’s a red flag for anyone buying the game. If they won’t give reviewers time with the game before it releases, how bad must the game be so that they want to keep their reputation, and more importantly their sales at a basic plateau, instead of risking it?
Although strange, it looks like people who are playing the game are having a good time with it. I’m still struggling to see how it fits into the Rocksteady motif. But at the same time, they’re diversifying their content, and maybe this game could be revolutionary in the live service industry. With episodic releases coming every couple of months, involving a new storyline and new playable characters, Rocksteady is looking to view each update ‘as a new comic release’, instead of a single-player game with no DLC or replayability, which is what GOTY contenders like Elden Ring and God Of War have come under scrutiny for.
To summarise, I’d leave it a couple of weeks before you buy the game. See how the servers are upheld and what people’s experience is like. Whilst it’s well and good developers have been having issues and have been stuck in ‘development hell’ for nearly the past decade and they’ll obviously want you to give their game a chance, don’t forget – they’re asking you for £70 of your hard-earned money. £70. Remember when you could rent a game from Blockbuster for a fiver?
Be a proud sceptic, but also allow yourself to get excited about certain aspects. Remember how much the hype was built up around the release of Cyberpunk 2077 and Battlefield 2042? Exactly.