Monday 24 January 2022

Game Review: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

After the abject failure of their always-online Avengers RPG, Square Enix have redeemed themselves with their second Marvel tie-in title: Guardians of the Galaxy.

Developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a single-player adventure narrative with the characters you know and love from the silver screen: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot.

It's important to know going in that this iteration of Guardians of the Galaxy isn't tied to the James Gunn version; while Square Enix have taken some cues from the movies when it comes to how they are written, these are seperate characters with their own look and past adventures. If you squint hard enough, you can make out James Gunn's movies – but there's enough to differentiate this from what we've seen before. 

This distinction is important, because it there's no baggage to weigh it down – the game can do its own thing without fear of retconning or contradicting something that happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The developers have gone out of their way to set it apart too, with elements of the lore revealing significant departures from the MCU canon. 

This isn't an origin story either; we're thrust into the midst of an adventure with the Guardians and left to suss out the dynamic. Peter has been captain of the Milano for quite a while, so there's a nice pace to the opening few chapters, where we're not lumbered with 'beginnings'. Serious Marvel nerds are going to have a whale of time too; Square Enix have crammed a lot of characters into this game, which I won't spoil here.

First and foremost, Guardians of the Galaxy tells a great story. This is a tight, single-player experience that has character at its core – or should I say characters, as we get to spend plenty of time with all our squadmates, learning their idiosyncrasies and their backstories. The production value is really high as well; there's no denying that this game looks and feels cinematic, up there with the best PlayStation exclusives (think Insomniac's Spider-Man games or something like Horizon: Zero Dawn). 

The visuals are incredible; from the gold-decked halls of the Raker's church to the neon-soaked streets of Knowhere or the bubblegum-coated pinks and yellow skies of the Quarantine Zone, the story skips around space and explores some very pretty and colourful alien worlds. 

The licensed soundtrack is crammed full of classic 80s pop, rock and hair metal – strap in for everything from Tears for Fears, Twisted Sister, A-Ha, Starship, Bonnie Tyler, Motley Crue, Wham and, of course, Rick Astley.

Each level is peppered with ghastly goobers, ugly aliens and nefarious nasties for you to shoot; but Star-Lord can't go it alone, and mastering combat means mastering the squad and their abilities. Accessible through the controller triggers, combat functions a lot like Mass Effect, where time slows and you cycle through your squad's special powers – for example, Gamora can deal a lot of damage to one target, whereas Rocket's tech is more inclined to dish out damage to a bunch of enemies at once. Groot can use his roots to stab or tie enemies up in knots while Drax flexes his muscle to 'stagger' big enemies, allowing others to go in for the kill. 

The quickest route through most combat encounters is a pick-and-mix approach using all four squadmates, plus Star-Lord's dual pistols (which can cycle through four 'elemental' ammo types depending on who or what you're shooting). As with most games, combat becomes more complex, challenging and colourful as you go, with tricky enemy types and difficulty spikes to keep things interesting. But I never felt frustrated or like things were unfair on the player; the difficulty curve is consistent and never blocks progress for too long. 

The Verdict: 9/10

A crisp, cheeky romp that is filled with glossy spectacle, propulsive action and heart, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is fantastic. The combat is colourful, fast-paced and varied, the characters are fun to spend time with and the art design is detailed, diverse and gorgeous to look at. I went in expecting very little, and came away surprised at the overall level of polish and panache. 

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy was reviewed on the PlayStation 5. 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review. I passed on this one when it was dirt cheap around the holidays simply because I don't have the time I once did....but this review is certainly compelling.

    I have that damn Avengers game and I could not get into it, even as pretty as it looked.



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