Today’s new trailer of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gave interested players their first proper look at the game in action. After dancing around its identity as yet another online, cooperative multiplayer RPG loot-and-shoot thing (six months after it launched another one of these to the sound of a sad trombone), WB Games dropped a trailer featuring gameplay, a bit of story, and a closer look at each of the game’s four heroes.
One thing jumps out right away — Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, though a canonical entry in Rocksteady Games’ Arkham franchise, departs from its famed melee combat by moving to characters that are happy to pull out a gun and start blasting. In this aspect, the gameplay footage we saw this morning lacked the kinetic thump of Arkham‘s famously satisfying melee combat. The problem with shooting is that it flattens the curve a bit on Hero Uniqueness because, without forcing each character to wield different guns, it’s hard to make shooting feel distinct. Deadshot is a character already known for shooting, but they gave him a jetpack so that’s cool, I suppose. Captain Boomerang is a guy who can throw boomerangs fast and feels like he might be the character closest to the classic Batman gameplay (but he also shoots). King Shark is a beefy brawler with powerful melee attacks (but he also shoots). Harley Quinn is an acrobat with a dive-in-dive-out playstyle (who also shoots).
I kind of … don’t want to shoot guys in an Arkham game, even one that’s adjacent to the Batman games, even one where it makes sense for the characters to pack heat. I hope the game proves me wrong on that front and lets me engage in a bit of biffo instead. King Shark looks like he might be the guy for that.
But since we’re talking about hero uniqueness.
Why, uh, why did Rocksteady turn Harley Quinn into Spider-man for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League? Suicide Squad Harley is out here zipping around on web shooters, grappling onto a little drone guy that flies around just out of frame, swan diving off buildings and doing air tricks and shit. It’s not uncommon for superhero games to make the token female character the “hypermobile” one — Marvel’s Avengers did the exact same thing with Black Widow. What’s striking about Rocksteady’s Harley is that its mechanical blueprint is so blindingly obvious, and doesn’t make a huge amount of sense for the character. Sure, you could argue that, by dint of her connection to a circus-themed villain, that acrobatics could conceivably be part of her repertoire. But even by that standard, it all just feels a bit over the top.
I will give Rocksteady this, though: it does seem that Harley is the only character out of the four that can do all this web-slinging, so they’ve got that going for them. They all have a certain amount of verticality, but only Harley can swing about.
I do wonder if, with Gotham Knights now in the rearview mirror, if Rocksteady was able to absorb any part of that blowback into its thinking. One of the biggest complaints with Gotham Knights was that its heroes didn’t feel quite distinct enough from one another. With a release date set for May 26, we’ll find out soon enough if Rocksteady is bound for a similar fate or if the trailers simply did a rough job of communicating their differences.
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