Is the Suicide Squad game dead on arrival?

Four characters line up against a city skyline. On the left, a character wears heavy armour with a silver mask and red eyeholes. Then a female character in blue leather jacket and trousers has a fearsome-looking baseball bat, held in one hand, resting on her shoulder. The third character is a humanoid, blue shark. On one wrist he wears a large metal manacle and his white vest is speckled with blood. The final character wears a beanie, long brown coat and holds a small two-handed pistol with an Australian flag sticker on it.WB Games

After years in development, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is finally out – but where are the reviews?

The latest game from developer Rocksteady, creators of the acclaimed Batman: Arkham series, has had a rocky start.

Players take on the role of the Suicide Squad – Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark and Captain Boomerang – four dangerous villains in the DC Comics universe.

Their targets are Justice League superheroes including Superman, the Flash, and Batman himself.

After early previews of the game were less-than-positive, major gaming site IGN, which published one of them, said it had been refused a review copy.

It wasn’t alone – most journalists only received codes on Tuesday, when the online game’s servers were switched on.

Usually, websites and streamers receive advance copies much earlier to give them enough time to write a comprehensive review.

This doesn’t always happen, and IGN itself pointed out that publisher Warner Bros Games was under no obligation to send it a free copy.

But Victoria Phillips Kennedy, who works for UK-based gaming site Eurogamer, says: “I do feel it’s a slightly unusual response.”

She tells BBC Newsbeat she believes “lukewarm” previews “possibly influenced their decision to hold off on review code”.

But Victoria points out that the previews – even IGN’s “We Played it and Didn’t Like It” – weren’t terrible. They just weren’t great.

“There were a lot of people saying that there was an OK game there but it wasn’t going to shake the industry,” she says.

“This is not the reaction Rocksteady wanted.”

BBC Newsbeat’s asked WB Games to comment on claims it withheld review codes in response to negative previews.

A woman with long, straight black hair smiles widely, her eyes scrunched up as she appears to laugh. She's wearing a white top, gold pendant and stands in front of a large wooden door polished to a shine.

Victoria Phillips Kennedy

Kill the Justice League is a tough follow-up for the UK-based studio – its Arkham trilogy of Batman games were innovative, influential and are regarded by some as the greatest superhero titles ever.

And fans of those single-player adventures weren’t too impressed when Kill the Justice League – a multiplayer-focused squad shooter – was first revealed in 2020.

The biggest concern for many was the studio’s shift from one-player games to a “live service” multiplayer model where a stream of new content – usually with an extra charge – is regularly added to the game.

This is supposed to make it feel fresh and keep people playing for as long as possible. But the genre’s fallen out of favour recently and is often criticised as a cash-spinner for companies.

That hasn’t put everyone off Kill the Justice League and plenty of people paid £100 – £40 above RRP – for early access to the game when its servers came online at midnight on Tuesday.

At least, that was the plan.

Victoria says players in New Zealand and Australia logged on first and were hit with a bug that instantly completed the game.

Soon after, spoilers appeared online and Rocksteady was forced to take the game offline temporarily to repair the issue, giving affected players $20 (£16) in-game credit.

That fuelled more online backlash and bad press, with critics branding the game a flop before it was even out. But there are plenty of Rocksteady fans defending the game, especially on the game’s official Reddit page and Discord channel.

Harley Quinn reclines on an outdoor surface. Her face is painted white with clown-like make-up and she's wearing a blue leather jacket, matching fingerless gloves an a white t-shirt with "Harleen the Queen" written on it. In the background a giant, purple, alien-like creature glows menacingly.

WB Games

Tom, from South Yorkshire, tells Newsbeat he’s “never really cared towards what the internet says.”

“Some of those Batman games were some of my favourite games I’ve ever played,” he says.

“I’ve been looking forward to a new release from Rocksteady ever since Arkham Knight.”

Tom bought the early access version of the game and says he’s had no problems with servers and has been having a good time so far.

So do reviews even matter?

One person who thinks they do is Milo, better known as MrROFLWaffles on YouTube.

He regularly broadcasts gaming content to almost two million subscribers and has done paid work for publisher Warner Bros Games – Suicide Squad included.

But he tells Newsbeat that, if it is true that review codes were held back due to negative previews, it’s a “harmful approach”.

“It creates this narrative among the fans saying – “Oh, that outlet’s not getting a code because they trash-talked a game,” he says.

“But it’s a twisted interpretation of what’s happening.”

A man smiles, waving at the camera. He's in a room set up for livestreaming, equipped with a microphone on a boom arm and with lighting that lends it a blue hue.


He says “the consumer loses out when the press is outside the room”.

“You need those people who are being critical as part of the conversation to make a better environment for consumers,” he says.

In Milo’s view, when reviews go out late “fans are left guessing as to whether the game is worth buying on launch”.

“I think that’s the last thing you want when you’re trying to make an informed decision on a fairly expensive video game.”

As for Suicide Squad, Milo says he bought a copy for himself and has found it to be a “mixed bag”.

“There are some elements which I really enjoy,” he says.

“There are also some kinda wobbly parts of it, I’d say. But overall I’m having a good time with it.”


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