“Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one,” yes, I know. There is no doubt that some consumers, or perhaps even a good number, did not wince when Rocksteady first announced to the world that their next game would be a cooperative, open Live Service game. In fact, even then, I could see many rightly calling for a calmer approach and wishing that even the most hard-boiled skeptics would throw some cold water on their heads.
The problem is simply, as previously outlined in an article on this site, that superheroes in particular and the always-online Live Service structure tend to disconnect very quickly when mixed together, with Marvel’s Avengers and Gotham Knights being the two most obvious examples. But if there was one thing that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League had, and here we’re talking about multiple previews, it was flair, it was style, and perhaps the many battles against Brainiac’s henchmen were so dynamic after all that they made up for the loss of story, exploration, mechanical versatility and all the other things we, partially made up for, if not most, associated with the Arkham games.
And for my part, there was actually cautious optimism to be found relatively early in the process, as Rocksteady released a trailer that may have lacked all of the aforementioned qualities, but still managed to impress in sheer dynamism. Check it out below.
The characters separately feel like nothing else, the game looks, if nothing else, pretty smooth and mixed with some kickass boss fights, it was like nothing else, more than the dumpster fire you first feared, right?
Well, now we get to the more recent look, where Rocksteady finally revealed how direct gameplay of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League looks like, and as I sat watching the display on the large TV screen in the darkened living room that night, I felt the last hint of excitement, of interest, being sucked out of me. Now the play is no longer on my radar. I certainly don’t need to be a truth teller, but YongYea, for example, was quick to point out that the ratio of likes to dislikes on this screening is instantly…. well, huge.
It’s pretty easy to see why, because all the dynamics, smooth animations and transitions that were supposed to save the day are nowhere to be found, replaced instead by relatively simplified telegraphic queues and a design that seems rudimentary, simple and generic. For starters, all the weight is gone. There are no animations or effects to clearly show our heroes landing heavily after a daring jump off a roof, there is no weight behind the dry blows dealt to utterly lifeless purple enemies. Except for a few Deadshot headshots, ammunition feels so feathery light, without offering the frictionless freedom of movement we see in games that gracefully detach themselves from gravity.
No, instead the four characters feel relatively identical to look at. Several comments have pointed out how Captain Boomerang, a character with his favorite weapon in his name uses a shotgun here, because why not. There is no real versatility here, as the characters semi-teleport, semi-swing and deliver well-aimed shots here and there, slavishly following the incredibly obvious and strategically stupid purple swell that clearly telegraphs to their enemies where to shoot.
Let’s allow ourselves to be superficial for a moment and say that comparing the gameplay-style trailer at the top of this article, and the one we saw during State of Play, shows a pretty significant graphical downgrade. Of course, things like that will always occur to some degree, but the number of unique animations, the lack of heaviness that was present prior to this screening and just the level of detail are all lacking. Especially on the ground, where the game cannot hide behind blistering action and rather irritating giant red crosses with every kill, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League seems completely devoid of interesting detail, as if Metropolis was not even a populated city before Brainiac moved in.
Of course, this was just a preview, a single area, a single scenario. But it is testament to a Live Service project that lacks almost all the core elements that we just love about Rocksteady, which we used to take for granted in the Arkham games. What we get instead may add some replay value, which is of course welcome, but it seems to be bought on false premises with color-coordinated loot, lots of skins and enemies that are hard to tell apart even during an organized demo.
And what was presented just looked, to me at least, so infinitely bland, completely devoid of exceptional features, or anything at the core. The large tank with striking purple bubbles, Harley Quinn’s airy attacks without any weight and perhaps most tellingly; the stealthy feeling that the only way you can interact with the game’s world is by knocking out boring, generic space enemies.
As I wrote before; Live Service is not necessarily bad. Forza Horizon 5, for example, is basically a Live Service game. But Marvel’s Avengers, Gotham Knights and Anthem have all paved the way for a formula that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League seemingly does nothing to innovate, and the visual splendor that was present before, which could have compensated for the lack of everything else, seems to be gone as well.
I hope I’m wrong, really. But it just looks unspiritual.
What do you think?