We have all come to know Guardians of the Galaxy to be action-packed, filled with both funny and heartfelt moments and a, definitely not to be forgotten, great soundtrack. There is a lot of potential for a great video game there. I had thankfully managed to go pretty blind into the game thanks to a lot of muting and social media avoidance. However, after the debacle of the Avenger’s game, I was truly worried walking into this one. I really didn’t want something that I loved so much, from the comics to the big screen, to be ruined by a video game. To my delight though, this game was a powerhouse of fun from start to finish.
Guardians manages to be one of the best Superhero games out there, on par with Insomniac’s Spider-Man.
The Guardians look a bit different, but they sound as close to the movies as one could hope. And even more importantly, their personalities are spot on and so are their interactions with each other. They all just feel how they should be. Peter is a bit of an airhead but pulls through in the heat of action. Gamora is focused and keen on the hunt. And Rocket and Groot… Well, Rocket is done ‘flarking’ well (a word you will hear often, and I am sure you can translate it to human). He is sassy and then sweet in all the right moments. And of course, nobody can dislike Groot – it’s a big lovable tree, what’s not to love!?
Although you have the whole team with you, you will only play as Peter Quill. Although some may like to play as another Guardian, I think it makes sense in terms of the quality of the game, and the length of development, that we only play as the original Guardian this time around. It gives the game a focused single-player, linear storyline that Avengers lacked. And by avoiding all those ‘multiplayer split-personality’ issues, Guardians manages to be one of the best Superhero games out there, on par with Insomniac’s Spider-Man.
Action and.. chat-tion?
While we all likely sign up first for the action, the reason we’re all so drawn to the Guardians is due to their banter as well as their dubious and rather interesting backgrounds. And the game balances the action with some quiet moments really well. There are multiple times where you can walk around the Milano (Peter’s spaceship) and chat with each character, choosing dialogue options and getting a peek into their lives and sometimes even reference those ‘colourful backstories. The great thing about having so many instances and opportunities for dialogue is the game reacts to your choices, and there are some unique outcomes based on how you treat your business partners, as well as your fellow guardians.
These mid-battle chats made heartfelt and humorous moments in the game much more memorable and were one of my favourite parts of the experience.
One of the most important times dialogue comes up is during the mid-battle huddle, where the Guardians express their worry or joy, and you must choose which words to hype them up with. I wasn’t very good at this at all, but when you get it right, it buffs the whole team, and some awesome 80s track starts to play. When you get it right, using the Guardians special powers one after the other is a sight to be seen. And as Drax would say, your enemies soon cease to exist. These chats made heartfelt and humorous moments in the game much more memorable and were one of my favourite parts of the experience.
The game has a wonderful ebb and flow to it and soon enough you’ll be right into the action. In fact, you will be taken from action to cut scene, to dialogue and then quickly back to action in the form of a space fight. There is hardly an obvious ‘tell’ between cutscene and gameplay. The direction is great and it all moves beautifully from one moment to the next. The game takes you through beautiful rainy planets to icy tundra’s, and space is just so beautiful to look at. The cities are built out and detailed, with neon lights and reflections in puddles. The cut scenes are glorious… Actually, the entire game is stunning.
The game takes you through beautiful rainy planets to icy tundra’s, and space is just so beautiful to look at. The cities are built out and detailed with neon lights and reflections in puddles.
Battles are not only equally beautiful but as you progress through them you get points to level up the team. Now, this is the only place you level up. And while that means that it can feel a little flat, because you need to think about which member of the team you use the most in-game (and how to get everyone into tip-top shape) it somehow stays interesting until the end. Also, as you progress the story with each team member, you then have a chance to unlock their ultimate ability. Letting full-powered Guardians loose is really helpful later near the endgame when you face the harder enemies
A perky-definitely-not-a-racoon Rocket
Another interesting game system that led me to explore more than I usually would is Rocket’s crafting benches. Here, there are 15 perks you can unlock using materials you find exploring the various chapters of the game. These go from upgrading your health to changing something about your blasters. These, while also linear, are satisfying to complete. I ran around levels using Peter’s Visor (similar to the Eagle Vision idea in Assassin’s Creed) which I upgraded through Rocket’s perks, which then helped me find enough materials to complete all 15 perks. It was a really fun task-based loop that I really enjoyed.
Often, when veering off the beaten path, you’ll find a box that contains an outfit for one of the team. So you even get to look forward to dressing them up in outfits they’ve been seen in through the lifetime of the franchise. Even though I played a lot I didn’t find them all, so, at least for the completionists out there, is a small reason for a replay. For everyone else, the linear nature of the game will probably mean one playthrough will be enough.
Rocket’s crafting benches, while also linear, are satisfying to complete.
So, while I have done nothing so far but to praise the game, I need to bring up the fact that there were multiple times where I hit instances of run-breaking bugs and glitches. When this happens, Peter gets stuck in place, doesn’t particularly like ledges and will often loop back and forth on them. And sometimes actions aren’t able to be completed. This lead to a lot of loading to the last checkpoint which was very frustrating.
Overall I found Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to be true to the franchise (thankfully). A beautiful game graphically, with well-paced sections of action and remarkable cut scenes featuring engaging characters – all backed by an awesome soundtrack. The writer’s manage to perfectly capture the team and there were just enough heartfelt moments to balance out the natural goofiness – and the writing is and performances are special. The story itself wasn’t bad either and I hope to see this franchise grow over the coming years. I really think this is a definite ‘must-play’ for the Marvel fans out there. I do recommend you watch the films first though if you haven’t yet, not because the game relates in any way besides having the same characters, but because the films are also some of the best superhero films in the whole galaxy.