Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Xbox Series X (Reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Switch
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $59.99 USD – Available Here $99.95 AUD – Available Here
When it comes to handling a massive property such as one of the Marvel’s, there is a certain amount of weight due to its popularity. This is certainly true for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy but it also happens to be the case thanks to the rather poor reception that was given to last year’s Marvel’s Avengers. This time around Eidos-Montreal has focused entirely on presenting fans with a single-player story and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy ends up being all the better for it with the final experience being one that fans of action games and of course of the Guardians themselves will be happy to dive into.
Players take on the role of Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord, who was kidnapped from Earth as a child and, after many years of committing crimes, helping people, taking part in wars, and more has settled in as being the leader to the Guardians of the Galaxy, an odd group including former assassin Gamora, Drax the Destroyer who has gained infamy after slaying Thanos, the technological chaotic-genius Rocket, and a walking tree named Groot. For everyone familiar with the Guardians this is well-known territory but this time Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy moves away from anything established in the MCU and focuses instead on the comic basis of the characters while also setting up its own world mixed together with existing fiction.
The Guardians find themselves incredibly broke to the point that taking on a risky mission such as breaking into a quarantine zone sounds like a great way to make a quick buck. After things obviously go incredibly wrong, the group finds themselves with a hefty fine on their hands and very little time to pay it off before they end up being sent to jail. Going into too much detail would spoil what becomes something of a comedy of errors that sees the Guardians fumble through numerous plans only to end up being the only ones capable of saving the universe from a dangerous new threat but it can easily be said that the writing of the core cast of characters, the many side-characters and familiar faces that appear from the Guardians’ lore, and of course the plotline itself help make this game one that truly shines and has more than a few surprises up its sleeves.
In many ways Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy‘s handling of the titular cast is done exceptionally well. Rather than try and retread the origin story for every character or how the group formed, the title instead is set sometime after the group has already been together for an unknown but not long length of time. Drax has already slain Thanos and takes most things literally while still distrusting Gamora who is more open with her past trauma under Thanos while Rocket remains mostly true to form with Groot still being Groot and Peter either being a more wise-cracking or caring leader depending on how players choose to respond to in-game dialogue prompts.
It must be said that the writers really have appeared to nail the personalities of the members of the Guardians here and the same type of humor that one should expect from the series as well. The characters bicker during battles while also making quips at the enemies that they are laying waste to and if they aren’t in a fight are either making jokes at one another’s expense or bonding over a recent event during more serious moments. In fact there is so much dialogue at times that players almost want to stop progress to avoid skipping conversations as a result. It is worth noting that this isn’t always a good thing as there are only so many one-liners during fights and longer battles, or fights against recurring enemies, can see characters repeating the same lines ad nauseum at times.
This mix of personalities works as well as it ever has with the Guardians’ formula and by not focusing on the group getting together the title can freely explore the characters growing as a group and bonding as well throughout the course of the journey. Combine this with the fact that players will run into numerous other characters such as Mantis, Cosmo, and more that have all been implemented in their own unique way and there is a incredibly enjoyable story to enjoy here, especially if players track down various collectibles that unlock additional dialogue with characters back on the Milano. These interactions provide extra backstory and some enjoyable moments with Peter trying to bond more with the crew as a result.
As mentioned before, players will find that they are often given dialogue choices throughout the course of the game. Many of these dialogue choices are meaningless and simply work as back and forth between the crew as they travel through an area but often there are moments that actually play a role in how some things will play out. Certain choices can be as simple as saving the crew some extra credits while avoiding a potential fight as a result, completely change the way a mission plays out, or even unlock additional help later on in the story depending on how things are handled. This is a fairly simple way to vary things up but it does give players some extra incentive to perhaps play through the game a second time to see how some events play out, even though the core storyline will always remain the same.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a third-person action adventure title that will see players taking direct control of only Star-Lord when it comes to combat although most of the time they will be joined by the rest of the Guardians. Action is handled fairly well with players usually utilizing Star-Lord’s elemental blasters to deal damage to enemies and firing off blasts of various elements to either stun foes or target potential weaknesses though melee combat is always available and a fairly fun tactic. The rest of the team battles alongside Star-Lord on their own with players being able to call on them to utilize various skills, three and eventually four per character, at will with a small cooldown afterwards.
This can lead to some incredibly hectic seeming battles as players can be battling a large number of enemies, calling Gamora to use a powerful single strike ability, Drax to pick up an object in the environment and throw it, and Groot to tie a group of foes in place all while hovering using Star-Lord’s jet-boots to shoot at foes from above. The team can help pick the player up should they fall in combat though the player will need to do the same for their allies or free them if they are entangled or frozen.
These flashy fights are great and can offer quite a lot of variety at times but that doesn’t stop things from feeling a bit repetitive eventually. This can be toned down some as the game features an incredibly useful difficulty modifying feature that can fine-tune parts of the game, such as lowering enemy health and increasing damage dealt by the player so if enemies end up feeling a bit too spongy, there is a fix for that. In fact, the customizable difficulty can even be ramped up beyond the hard level giving players as much of a challenge as they feel like taking on, giving probably the most accessibility possible without actually taking anything away as a result.
When not fighting against enemies players will find themselves exploring a fairly linear level design that has upgrade parts and collectables scattered around as well as plenty of platforming and puzzle solving areas to traverse. These puzzles tend to be rather simple but it is fun being able to command members of the team to help assist in solving them, even if it just might involve creating a branch bridge, hacking a panel, or needing an extra boost. It is worth noting that exploration also tends to be where many of the more worrying bugs can occur and while the game does have incredibly frequent checkpoints as well as multiple save slots, needing to reload simply because Peter is stuck floating on an object or an enemy hasn’t registered as dead can be rather annoying.
Visuals & Audio
With Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy players will be venturing to a number of alien locations that all have a great and unique enough look to them, though more than a few are revisited a second time around with some changes. The character designs themselves are familiar but unique enough to give the Guardians their own bit of flair for this version of the cast though players will find a large number of costumes throughout the game if they explore enough, giving players options ranging from outfits similar to their MCU counterparts, casual, Apocalyptic, and more. This level of style carries over to the flashy combat as players will rarely find themselves wanting for more when in a fight. It is worth noting that there do appear to be some optimization issues in later levels in the game however as the game will begin to stutter if played for a long time. This usually is fixed with a simple reset but it is a problem nonetheless.
Nearly all of the characters, the Guardians included, are voiced exceptionally well which is a necessity given how much everyone talks throughout the game though there is still the issue with repetitive combat dialogue. Of course any Guardians of the Galaxy entry wouldn’t be complete without a great soundtrack and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy fits that perfectly as there are tons of signature 80s songs that play throughout the game either through story moments, during power-ups that occur when Star-Lord successfully boosts his team’s morale during a huddle, or simply at will when exploring the Milano and using the radio.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy feels like the type of action-adventure game that rarely sees the light of day anymore. It offers flashy solid combat that can be a bit repetitive at times while also telling a fantastic storyline filled with a great cast of well-written characters that, while familiar for most, can still be surprising from time to time.
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