When the Guardians of the Galaxy made their MCU debut years ago, nobody thought they’d make it. A degenerate, a grieving muscular man out for revenge, the adopted daughter of Thanos, a raccoon and a talking tree. I knew the characters from reading the comics and even I didn’t think they had a chance.
Boy, was everybody wrong.
Now, the Guardians of the Galaxy are a household name.
That means it’s a great time for a game based on the property! That’s especially true as we’re still awaiting Vol. 3 of the movie series. Fans are thirsty for more Guardians of the Galaxy action…
So does the game provide that?
What is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy?
Guardians of the Galaxy is a 3rd person action adventure game from Eidos Montreal, published by Square Enix and Bandai Namco. It’s available now for the PC, Playstation and Xbox consoles. There’s also a Nintendo Switch version, though that’s only available via Cloud Streaming.
Our copy of the game was gifted to us by the kind folks at Bandai Namco Asia.
This is going to sound weird, but I don’t recommend playing the game on its Performance (60FPS) mode. The game isn’t locked to that frame rate and the trade-off in terms of visuals, draw distance and texture pop-in isn’t worth it at all. The game is a damn visual splendor and going the Performance route places a big damper on the graphics that’s just not worth it.
Besides, the game’s rock solid at 30FPS!
Let me make something clear.
This Guardians of the Galaxy game, is similar to Square Enix’s other Marvel game, Avengers. It’s unaffiliated with the 616 (Comics) universe or MCU. That means the characters don’t look like their MCU/616 counterparts and have no ties at all to either universe.
Ok? All on the same level now?
If you go in to the game with a fresh mind and zero expectations, you’ll find that you’ll be in for a wildly awesome ride. That’s because the events in-game, while inspired by the MCU and 616, are in its own continuity.
In this game, Peter Quill wasn’t kidnapped as he ran away from his mother’s death and Thanos never got to complete the Infinity Gauntlet. The Yondu Udonta in this one wasn’t the Micheal Rooker old man, but the spry warrior inspired by the comics.
It’s a weird change because we’re so ingrained with the MCU version of the origins of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not a change for the worse, and in the context of the game, it actually works really well.
I just wished the game provided more history about this particular universe. I’d have loved more lore about the Galactic War the game keeps referring to (which might be inspired by the Annihilation and Operation Galactic Storm events) or even a basic history of the game’s universe.
Still, at the very least, the basis of the original comics Guardians of the Galaxy are there.
Despite it not being an RPG, you’ll want to play Guardians of the Galaxy for the plot.
It’s damn good and many, many times I’d thought the game was ending only for it to twist and continue on.
The writing for the characters are incredible. The banter feels really organic and most importantly, conveys how the Guardians are a big dysfunctional family. It’s also hilariously funny, with Rocket and Drax having the best lines in the game. Mantis comes in a close third, with her weird (but chuckle-worthy) lines.
Incredibly, you have a hand in how the tale plays out too.
You’ll get to influence the plot with your choices, as well as respond to conversations in the style you want.
In the vein of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, there are even the infamous ‘Somebody will remember that’ line that will pop-up ominously on the upper right of the screen when you do something major.
I love that the game isn’t pandering to the MCU crowd because it’s actually using a lot of lesser known characters in the game. Unless you’re a comic fan, you’d probably never heard of Adam Warlock, the Blood Brothers or Darkhawk or Moon Dragon or Ruby Thursday.
I’m not saying whether they’re in the game or not, but they are referenced!
I just wish the the developers delved even deeper into Guardians lore, especially with the team buildup.
While we all know the MCU Guardians team, the Guardians of the Galaxy have a rotating membership at times in the comics. Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Agent Venom, Phy-la Vell, Major Victory and other mainstream Marvel characters were actually members of the group at one time or another in the comics.
How cool would it have been to have Quasar on the team?! He’d be a challenge with his Quantum bands, but hey, I’m confident Eidos Montreal would’ve found a way to make it all work.
Sandwiched in between all the banter and plot are the action elements.
They’re primarily on foot, with you controlling Star-Lord, blasting away with his Element Guns. At certain points of the game, you’ll also be in the pilot seat of the Milano (the Guardians’ ship).
These sections are usually on rails, though you’ll also need to dogfight. Nothing major, just get in range and fire away. It’s not a dedicated space sim like Star Wars Squadrons, so you won’t need to don that Rebel Alliance flight suit you have stashed away.
The on-foot section of the game are rather mostly linear, with certain sections where you can go off the beaten path to nab some secrets. These are mostly in the form of upgrade materials, or rarely, in the form of unlockable costumes for the gang.
Awesome, these costumes draw from the rich history of the team, including looks from the movies, as well as the Guardians’ costumes from the comics.
The parts where you run around combine minor platforming with puzzle elements, where you need to use the Guardians’ abilities to progress.
Nothing too brain scratching; Rocket deals with the techie stuff, Gamora slices things (and can be used as boost), Drax can punch through stuff and carry around heavy crap and Groot can create bridges or lift platforms.
When you’re not exploring the environments, you’re probably going to be fighting.
Most of the fights are forced upon you, and there’s no option to sneak past. You’ll only be allowed to progress after the enemies are all done for. These battles have you controlling only Star-Lord, with no way to pick the other Guardians.
Instead, you get to command the others.
Drax for instance, can deal massive stun damage with his skills. Rocket can hit a lot of baddies at once. Gamora can deal massive solo damage and Groot can immobilize. At least that’s how they will be initially.
Once you start unlocking their skills, all of them start to become interchangeable, which is good since you won’t need to depend only on one person to fill a certain role. Peter himself also has his own skills, though you’ll mostly be using his Element Guns.
Star-Lord’s guns don’t run out of ammo, but they do need to cooldown after prolonged use.
Unlike most other games, you’re encouraged to overheat the guns, as you get a chance to do massive damage if you time the cooling properly. The guns also take on multiple special properties as you progress, such as the ability to drag enemies to you or to freeze enemies so that they take more damage.
Each character has 4 special skills; 3 are unlocked using Guardian Points (which you get for leveling up) and the last one gets automatically unlocked as you progress. I’d prefer more skills actually, as I was about 3/4 through the game when I’ve unlocked everything.
After that point, there’s really no point to combat any more, as you don’t need any more Guardians points to level up. A Prestige mechanic (like the Call of Duty or Diablo games) would’ve been a nice addition, allowing you to power up your Guardians even after they’re maxed out.
That also applies to the perks you can get for Star-Lord.
15 upgrades might sound a lot, but if you’ve been scouring the stages for the upgrade materials, you’ll finish unlocking the skills even before you max the characters! Like the Guardian points, once you’ve unlocked all of Star-Lord’s upgrades, the materials become useless to you.
There’s also melee combat but it’s mainly button mashing with Square.
Awesomely, if you button mash near an ally, you can sometimes do a finisher combo with that ally.
It’s all automatic, so all you need to do is mash square. There are also finishers (Triangle + Circle) when enemies are stunned and at low health, as well as context specific actions (Triangle when prompted) that’ll unleash some major hurt on baddies when they’re vulnerable.
Melee combat looks good but is pretty brainless.
Mashing Square all the time (or other buttons during Quick Time Events) gets kind of boring. There’s definitely room for improvement here, which should hopefully come with the sequel.
Peter can also initiate a super special ability called The Huddle, which calls the Guardians together to…well, huddle.
Here, the others will tell you what they’re feeling and you’re given a choice of how to respond.
Hype them well and the whole team is rejuvenated and boosted for the fight. Choose the wrong response and only Peter will get buffed. It’s a cool mechanic, made especially epic when Peter dons his earphones and plays a random song from the soundtrack.
I fought the second-last boss with ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ blasting in the background.
SO. DAMN. AWESOME!
Speaking of the soundtrack, the OST of the game is undeniably epic.
If you’re a lover of 80s rock, you’re in for a treat.
From Joan Jett to KISS to Twisted Sister to Rick Astley, quite a few recognizable songs from that decade are in. Weirdly, it’s still missing quite a few iconic songs from the decade like The Touch, Danger Zone, The Power of Love, Bat Out of Hell and more.
Then again, I guess Eidos Montreal are probably holding these back for the sequel…which I’m really looking forward to.
I’d have preferred a rousing main theme too, something which the game lacks. The Guardians theme (particularly the remixed version called Guardians’ Inferno with David Hasselhoff) is lodged into my brain as the defacto Guardians of the Galaxy music.
There’s nothing comparable for the game and I kept wishing for something as rousing as the MCU theme when heroic stuff happens.
Other than that nitpick, the OST is damn near perfect…for a first game.
The other minor issue I have with the sound is that the dialogue tends to be overpowered by the other sounds (explosions and the like). I had to lower the sound effects and music volume in the options to make them pop better. On the Milano, the music you can play is also muted. It should be much, much louder!
What good is a rocking soundtrack if you can barely hear it?!
A better sound mix that enhanced the voices would’ve been much preferred.
Throughout my playtime I’ve encountered also numerous game breaking bugs.
They’re mainly in the form of triggers not appearing to progress to the next part of the stage. Sometimes it’s cutscenes not triggering, sometimes it’s button prompts not appearing.
All of them required me to restart from the nearest checkpoint to fix.
There’s also a particularly annoying bug that happens sometimes in fights.
A couple of times, I got knocked down and can’t get up. Hammering buttons does nothing. It’s only after a super lengthy amount of time that Peter recovers.
All of these bugs should hopefully already be targeted for fixing. They’re really annoying and detract from what is a really polished title.
Hopefully, Eidos Montreal patch these issues out as soon as they can.
The Bottom Line.
I’m not going to mince words, I really love Guardians of the Galaxy. Peter shares the same taste in music as me so the OST is a damn hit in my eyes. The gameplay’s also damn fun and the writing’s incredibly funny. I’ve played thousands of games (maybe even tens of thousands) but this is one of the few games I honestly looked forward to hearing the characters interact with each other.
There are some technical issues; the game is buggy as hell. Multiple times I got stuck because the gameplay triggers (whether it’s a cutscene or a button prompt) didn’t go through. It’s worse than it sounds because I didn’t know that the game bugged out on me and would spend a long time messing thinking I was missing something.
Ignoring those issues for a second (because chances are they’ll get patched out), Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly one of the best games of the year and one that’s definitely worth playing.
Some game breaking glitches aside, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best games of the year! Definite Game of the Year contender.
- The story.
- The visuals.
- The banter.
- The gameplay.
- The OST.
- Nods to the 616 comics universe.
- Some bugs.
- Getting used to the non-MCU look.
- Guardians main theme not awesome enough.
- Not enough skills and upgrades.