Justifying my Purchase


We’re at a point right now where the then-niche nerd interests of the past are the driving elements of pop culture. Being a superfan of anime, comic media or fantasy and sci-fi worlds is normal. These things make billions of dollars off of the casual interests of millions. A foreign concept not even two decades ago. Then comes the issue of quality control for these things- these companies have an incentive to “give the people what they want,” too often at the expense of the creative direction of the end product. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that a good fan speaks wisely with their wallet. Not everything associated with the intellectual property you’ve fallen in love with deserves the money you earned. However, every fan can make a sore mistake and see past their own bias- and contribute to a cycle that enables more half-baked content to be made. More importantly, it enables the continued exploitation of talented artists to keep pumping out this product rather than letting them work their craft. Recently I’ve spoken very badly with my wallet and bought a product that is not emblematic of the best qualities of the thing I’m a fan of. This isn’t a traditional review of the quality of my mistaken purchase, but rather a tale of how a deep love of something inherently nerdy led to nearly one hundred of my own money, being more or less wasted due to my fandom blinders. This is that going back to the beginning:

I love DC comics. I grew up always obsessed with the iconography of gods and monsters that DC was bursting at the seams with, and that fanaticism hasn’t dissipated into my early adulthood at all. I have an attachment, especially to Batman; I don’t find that surprising. Gotham City is just an author's playground for dark, gothic, and horror stories, villains based on heightened and twisted emotion, and a stoic, moody protagonist to center it all around. Those sensibilities all appeal to me and the things I like. Three of my birthday parties in my single-digit years were Batman-themed. I own every Batman film on disk and digital- including the animated projects. I’ve seen the entirety of both of the two mainline DC animated universes several times over just because most of it includes Batman (19 films, and 384 episodes in total). I cried when Kevin Conroy, the long-running iconic voice of Batman, passed away.

 But, with that, what is DC’s Suicide Squad? And why are they so popular? Just think about it; they got their own standalone film before staples of DC like Aquaman and The Flash, they’re getting an anime series later this year, they have animated adaptations galore, and they’re certainly more prominent in DC representation than staples like Doom Patrol, Green Lantern Corps, Teen Titans, or Challengers of the Unknown. Does anyone know who the Challengers of the Unknown are? But you know who the suicide squad is. Why? Because bad guys are fun to indulge in.

I love the idea of the Suicide Squad, don’t get me wrong, and there are adaptations that realize that potential. That being the liberty for franchise writers to bring in the rogues gallery of a bunch of different heroes together to make for pulpy interactions. Captain Boomerang, Solomon Grundy, and KGBeast have a reason to talk to one another. Apply this mentality to any DC villain you want. It’s good, dumb fun! It’s a gritty, bloody story based on an “anything goes” mentality, and the best ”Task Force X' ' stories are the ones that take full advantage of this spin-off writer's sandbox ethos. Allowing morally bankrupt killers to let loose for nothing more than the visceral enjoyment of watching that kind of story unfold.

So, with all this in mind, I love DC comics, I love Batman properties from his comics, films, shows, and Arkham video games, I enjoy the Suicide Squad (James Gunn’s take on the characters is one of my favorite comic films), so I feel like I could be at least excused for buying the latest installment in Batmans Arkham-verse game series, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League on day one, for the full price of $70 of legal U.S tender. It was a delusional purchase made by the clouded judgment of a fan. But be assured I am disappointed in myself.

The game from release has garnered a reputation of being nowhere near worth its price-point for so many reasons. That being said, the game itself isn’t the worst thing in the world, the individual characters of the squad are fleshed out, distinct, and funny enough. The plot is functional and less tedious than the gameplay. The fast-paced and free-flowing traversal mechanics make the grind-y shooting sections not monotonous, even though there’s only a handful of enemy types in this looter shooter designed on its appeal to redo the same mission types- of which there also isn’t much of any! The guns are all punchy and landing shots are satisfying through clear and rich sound cues and visual indicators, even if the games’ answer to ramping difficulty is to throw in more bullet sponges, or spam out a tiring enemy type that forces you to stop in your tracks (keep in mind the movement is the games best quality) in order to perform an arbitrary melee attack, with no alternative way to dispatch the enemy.

 To their credit, Rocksteady has a deep love for DC, comic references are integrated tastefully and with obvious deep lore knowledge rather than surface-level, obvious (barely) easter eggs. None of this critique is an attack on Rocksteady developers, as god knows the toxic crunch of the video game industry doesn’t need the added problem of personal attacks being made on the designers' lives. Whether it be through crackdown from corporate demands, being spread too thin in the design process, or just a fault of structuring their departments in making a game they have no experience in (a multiplayer, grind-heavy looter shooter)- as a game, this just isn’t worth a AAA price point, with a ten-hour campaign boasting 5 boss fights, one of which is recycled, unfinished endgame content, and such dense data-swamp menus completely antithetical for a hero (or villain in this case) shooter.

I write this as a warning to other fans, whether it be for DC or anything you find beloved that has the privilege to be a multi-media sensation. Always be skeptical of a new release, don’t spend hard-earned money deserving of maybe only half its asking price on something because it's attached to something you love. I am not exempt from the concept of rose-tinted glasses, and neither are you. 70 dollars isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things, but it's the principle of wasting it on something appealing to your emotional and nostalgic investment- while not standing on its own to be something worth investing in. I hope in writing this warning, and playing the game on and off as it gets updates to its live service model, I am ultimately justifying my purchase.



Writer: Tony Molina

Artist: Cooper Lyon