Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Earlier this year Square Enix revealed that Eidos-Montréal was working on a Guardians of the Galaxy game and people online are still mad that this AAA title based on a billion dollar IP got an entire fifteen minutes of ad time at E3. This reveal coming right off the failure of Square’s Avengers game caused immediate distrust that the game would be good. I honestly think it got a bit of an unfair reputation upon reveal. The failure of a Destiny-style multiplayer experience vs the reveal of a single player adventure from an acclaimed studio didn’t feel like a valid comparison to me.

I even put out an article earlier this year about how I thought the game looked promising and my appreciation for the resurgence of Superhero video games. However even though I was hopeful for the game I was fully prepared to put my foot in my mouth if the game ended up being bad.

So did it turn out bad like people expected? Or did it turn out to be good despite the expectations of Eidos Montréal? Let’s find out!

Let’s begin by discussing the gameplay, Guardians of the Galaxy sees you in control of Starlord for the entire game. Your main means of attack are your dual guns which are mapped to the triggers and a melee attack on your square button. With only these two tools in his arsenal Starlord can’t handle many foes on his own, however you’re not alone. You have the main gameplay mechanic of the game: Your friends, at your side.

During battle you can press L1+one of the face buttons on the controller to command one of your fellow Guardians to attack. Each guardian has four different attacks they can use that they learn as you progress through the game and have a cool down after using. The constant use of the Guardians attacks combined with Starlord shooting from a range and flying around with his jet boots results in a combat system that is chaotically fast paced and extremely fun. This gameplay structure is simple but very exciting in the short bursts that battles go on for between story segments and traversing the stages.

The game doesn’t have much going for it in terms of boss fights. There are only about three of them in the game and characters you would expect to be a boss like Lady Hellbender never directly fight the Guardians outside of cutscenes. The fights that are there are fun though.

Outside of combat you’re mostly making your way through linear stages listening to the banter between the team and occasionally using one or more of them to traverse and occasionally go off the correct path to find hidden collectibles. These collectibles range from scrap metal to upgrade Star Lord’s guns, readable documents to give you more information about each area, and optional costumes for each of the characters.

Throughout the story you will be met with choices that will have a Telltale-esque “Character will remember that” prompt. Most of these are as pointless as a Telltale choice, however to my surprise there were some choices that affected the game. From something as minor as having more characters show up for the final battle to something as major as chapter 4 being entirely different based on your choice in chapter 3. After years of games where choices are completely inconsequential it was a pleasant surprise to see at least some of them mattered here.

Speaking of the story, let’s talk about one of the most important aspects of the game: the banter between the Guardians. In a post-MCU world, the Guardians are constantly exchanging jokes and sarcasm between each other as expected. For the most part the banter is good, you get a genuine sense that this team enjoys each other’s company even if they can push each other’s buttons. However it can get irritating at times, particularly when you are alone with Rocket and Groot as the banter between only Rocket and Star Lord isn’t good enough to carry a level.

Although the comedy is exactly what you would expect in a post-MCU Guardians game there are several relationships and character beats that are very divorced from the mainstream films. Stuff like Peter’s relationship with Yondu are completely different and Mantis has an actual personality here. Even though the game is very MCU-adjacent in tone it doesn’t feel like an MCU game and has an identity all of its own.

The soundtrack of the game is about what you’d expect from a Guardians game, filled to the brim with popular songs of decades past. The soundtrack actually ties itself into a gameplay element. After fighting enough you get to call the team in to huddle up, after a rousing speech from Starlord the music begins to play and your team’s attack cooldowns are greatly shortened temporarily. This can be done any time, even during boss fights, making this the only video game in existence to completely unironically play Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up during a boss fight.

Despite the hate that Guardians of the Galaxy got during it’s reveal I think the game turned out pretty great and I appear to not be alone in that regard. The game has been getting good reviews around the board and this very week won an award at The Game Awards for best narrative of 2021. Eidos clearly learned from the criticism that 2020’s Avengers game and delivered a solid single player experience that many can enjoy. Hopefully this is a sign that future Superhero video games from Square Enix and other companies will also took notes of Avengers’ mistakes and continue to deliver quality games in the future.

Thank you for reading my short review of Guardians of the Galaxy, if you would like to read my earlier article on the future of Superhero games please click here

If you would like to read something else Marvel related but not gaming related please check out Sailor’s article on Miss Marvel 2014

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