October 26, 2021
Star-Lord and his band of space pirates aren’t your stereotypical heroes. They’re not polished or conventional. They’re often at loggerheads with each other, and far from perfect. Despite their flaws, their hearts are always in the right place. This is very much how I viewed Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s rough around the edges, but despite some issues, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the cosmos.
The story is surprisingly dense, filled with nods to the comics and originality as well. After the Galactic War, the Guardians are trying to make some money any way they can. When the Universal Church of Truth starts to corrupt the minds of the entire galaxy, Quill and company embark on an adventure to stop them at all costs. The writing is excellent. Not only with where the story goes, but the character development is so well managed and it’s very funny. It takes place very much at the beginning of their story. As it progresses, a once inexperienced team turns into space’s most mightiest heroes.
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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Building a bond
There’s an emphasis on talking to other members of the Guardians. As Star-Lord, you learn a lot about their backstories, their fears, and their loves. By the end of the game, each member has gone on their own personal journey and become a very different person to the one you were introduced to in the beginning. Aboard the Milano, you’ll get plenty of chances to have one-on-one conversations with them. During missions, you’ll find items that can then be discussed back on your ship. Some of these lead to interesting conversations that help to create bonds between you and your team. The mission to stop the Universal Church of Truth takes you all over the place. Of course, you visit Knowhere, but many other planets are there to be explored.
It reminded me of how Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was structured. Each chapter takes place on a different planet, and sees you explore each one. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t an open world, but it doesn’t need to be. There’re some areas off the beaten path, but mainly they’re there for you to find components to upgrade abilities or find a new equippable costume for your gang. It looks lovely on PS5. There’s a lot of detail in every facet of it, both in character animations and the designs of the various environments.
Constantly evolving gameplay
As for its gameplay, Eidos Montreal has managed to make it a lot of fun. There’s a satisfying evolution of each Guardian’s abilities. By taking part in combat, you build an XP-type gauge that contributes to your pool of ability points. All members have three distinct abilities that can be unlocked, with a fourth being gained in a different way I won’t ruin for you now. Gamora is an assassin, so her skills involve deadly and efficient attacks; Drax is a powerhouse, so he attacks in aggressive and violent ways; Groot is more like the support character, using his body to trap and control; and Rocket is the tech wizard, using his arsenal of weapons to destroy enemies.
By pressing the left shoulder button, you bring up the Guardian’s menu. From there, pressing the corresponding buttons can launch one of their abilities, helping you to use them on the fly. Star-Lord also gains new abilities, and can be unlocked in much the same way as the others. Using them is slightly different, as pressing the left analogue brings his moves up.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Blasters at the ready
Throughout Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, you play as Star-Lord. He has ranged blasters that can fire at enemies, and after unlocking active reload, they become integral to each battle. The adaptive triggers provide resistance when firing your blasters, and hitting that green sweet spot provides a satisfying release of tension when constantly shooting.
Not only are they used to fire at the bad guys, new elemental abilities become available. Pressing different directions on the d-pad selects them, and they can be used against certain enemy types, as well as particular environmental obstacles. For example, you can freeze Nova soldiers or shock them, as well as powering up dead door mechanisms and freezing vents to stop poisonous gas from oozing out. There’s also melee combat. It works OK, but sometimes it can be unresponsive and sluggish. When in a big battle, it’s better to stay at range and call in your teammates. I had times when I went to punch someone, and a weird animation kicked in that happened almost in slow motion.
Another core mechanic in battle is the Huddle. Once you’ve built your momentum meter, the huddle can be triggered by pressing the two trigger buttons together. Upon doing so, Star-Lord calls in the Guardians for a rousing speech. Select the right response and the entire team gains a brief damage buff. Make a mistake, and it might only be Quill who gets it. Regardless, one of the game’s awesome songs will kick in. I had the joy of blasting corrupted Nova Corp members while Wham’s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ played. While huddles are a nice idea in theory, I felt they broke up the action. Eventually I stopped using them so I had more time enjoying the combat. Speaking of the soundtrack, it’s so diverse and brilliant. New Kids on the Block, Blue Oyster Cult, Europe – it’s got everything.
While traversing the wide array of planets, your Guardians have particular skills that help to reach new areas. Star-Lord has a visor that can be used to scan the environment. This can provide information as to how certain obstacles can be overcome. Drax can smash through walls or knock down large pillars; Groot can create bridges and raise platforms; Rocket can hack terminals and sneak through small spaces; and Gamora can slice through cables and jump up walls so Quill can grab her and reach higher areas. It’s another aspect of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy that makes great use of the team. Pressing the left trigger and selecting who you want to help is often how this is achieved, but as the game moves on, they start to do it automatically. It’s a neat way in which the bond between the team grows stronger.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The pressures of leadership
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy features certain choices along the way. You’re often given dialogue options depending on the situation. Making one choice will affect how certain moments play out. For example, choosing to communicate through an abandoned Nova Corp helmet started a battle I could’ve avoided if I’d just kept quiet. As the game progresses, bigger decisions are presented that can go either way. Whatever you decide, moments can play differently depending on how you choose to progress.
There’re a lot of cool surprises along the way, featuring characters you’ll be familiar with. I wish I could tell you all about it, but finding them for yourself is a much better way to appreciate the fan service Eidos Montreal has provided. The humour is a big part of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The way Rocket and Star-Lord playfully (and sometimes aggressively) vie for leadership; Drax’s dry humour and sarcasm; Gamora’s journey from serious assassin to allowing herself to enjoy life. It’s wonderful. I caught myself smiling and laughing a lot, but it also has a lot of heart. The voice acting is superb from everyone. I doubt anyone will find this aspect of it disappointing.
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An absolute blast
Despite my love for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, it is a bit rough at times. Some background textures pop into existence. I got knocked down in battle and it took ages to get up, as if stuck in the environment. I had a crash when a late-game battle took place, almost overwhelmed by the amount of enemies on screen. It is by no means a game changer, and my love of it never waned. It’s nowhere near as polished as Marvel’s Spider-Man or even The Avengers, but I still had a blast.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a wonderful surprise. I expected to like it, but after the credits rolled, I wanted to jump back in and play it all over again. The writing is wonderful. The characterisation is spot on from what I’m used to seeing in the comics, and even fans of the MCU will appreciate the similarities. The combat is consistently fun, evolving with every new chapter. I’d love to see more of this world from Eidos Montreal in the future. It’s a solid start that has plenty of potential for future releases, but this alone is going to please a lot of people. It’s flarking great!
Character progression is wonderful
Some texture popping
Melee is awkward at times
Huddles break the flow of combat
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a bit rough around the edges, but it's so fun to play, with a well-written and exciting story.