Suicide Squad Takes a Lot of Getting Used to, and It May Not Be Worth It Hands On 1

If making you feel like a speedrunner was Rocksteady's intention as it put together the opening hours of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, then it at least nailed that aspect. Forcing one slapdash mission after another onto your HUD, the story introduction is told at such a breakneck pace that it can be difficult to parse what is actually going on and find the proper time to even get to grips with its four playable characters. It's a lot to take in and none of it's especially basic, so you're left still reading pop-up tutorials hours into the experience. There are flashes of brilliance in amongst it all, but you're going to need to work to see them.

It's difficult to feel any differently, as we pen our initial impressions following just over three hours of play. The situation surrounding release day review code means we are starting to work towards our verdict at the same time everyone else can begin playing. It is not ideal, but the one benefit is we can share impressions such as these right after our first play session.

Maybe that whirlwind of a quest sequence lets up as you progress further into Suicide Squad, but for now, we don't know whether it's worth pushing through to the other side. It feels like such a strange and awkward game to play in the moment, with combat mechanics piling on top of one another and unique traversal methods for each character that take some getting used to. Deadshot and King Shark have it best with a jetpack and huge leaps; both feel relatively easy to control and it's simple to navigate them around the open world.

Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang, however, don't prove as intuitive. The former uses a grappling hook that she can either use to reach the tops of nearby buildings or latch onto a drone that follows her around to swing from. The latter, meanwhile, throws a metal boomerang that he teleports to at the end of each throw up to two times in a single jump.

Quinn especially seems to have drawn the short straw compared to her teammates because getting around with the grappling hook just isn't fun. You'll constantly collide with buildings and fall back down to the floor, demanding you restart your route back into the air and get some momentum going once more. On the other hand, Captain Boomerang requires you to be quite delicate and precise with your boomerang placement; you'll fall back down to the Metropolis ground if you're not careful. Unless traversal upgrades are a thing further into the game, we can't see ourselves using either character much.

The first few hours of gameplay involve just as much shooting as they do traversal, with uninspired tasks like clearing waves of enemies and depending points soaking up many of your bullets. Suicide Squad quickly seeks to build on basic back-and-forth firefights by introducing methods of engagement that land critical hits and power your shield meter. The gunplay actually feels pretty good no matter who you play as, making draining HP bars (and all the damage numbers popping out of them) feel satisfying. We've yet to unlock any build-defining weapons, but with three skill trees to work through for each character, it's easy to see how you'd get some good combat variety out of Suicide Squad if you spec your build in the right way.

Still, though, just like its movement options, the game just doesn't quite play as you'd expect it to, with easily forgettable mechanics and very busy HUDs that can obscure vital information in the heat of battle. The mission design — at least in the early game — doesn't allow for much experimentation as every encounter is over just as quickly as it began. Going back to that breakneck pace, quests in the first few hours are never really more than five to 10 minutes long, featuring a single encounter with a cutscene on either side. It just seems like an odd way to present the narrative; we wouldn't be surprised if a walkthrough was tracking 50+ levels once the campaign is all said and done. There's an entire mission dedicated to giving you a grenade slot; again: it's just a bit weird.

The one saving grace happens to be those cutscenes fronting and ending missions, which are of a very high quality and feature lots of quality, witty writing that'll genuinely have you laughing out loud. The overall story of killing off the Justice League that encompasses it all also proves fairly gripping in the early stages — we're looking forward to seeing where it goes in the hours of game ahead.

As such, we're left with what feels like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that don't quite go together a couple of hours in. We need to see how each element develops over the course of the experience, but while there's potential there, we can't shake the feeling Suicide Squad isn't quite going to come together. Its narrative is proving captivating so far, the shooting is mostly satisfying, and you've got a 50 per cent chance of choosing a character with fun traversal mechanics. However, if the mission structure continues to be so one-note and over before you've really got going, then investing in what Suicide Squad is feels like a tougher ask than it should be. There's a lot of the game still to go, but as of right now, we've no idea where we're going to land. This is a strange game with a strange introduction, even if there are reasons to be excited for what's to come.

Have you been playing Suicide Squad in this early access phase via the Deluxe Edition? What are your first impressions? Post them in the comments below.