Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Marvel’s video game output has been a bit of a rollercoaster over the last few years between standouts like Insomniac’s Spider-Man and disappointments like Crystal Dynamic’s Avengers, but now Eidos-Montreal is trying its hand at one with Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a property that the majority of people had no idea even existed less than a decade ago, but now is one of the biggest in the world thanks to the 2014 Marvel Studios film.

Since that time, the Guardians have popped up in many different places, including Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy. However, this latest venture will be the first AAA attempt at adapting the series, giving it the budget and scale that the Guardians truly deserve.

Guardians of the Galaxy comes from Eidos-Montreal, a subsidiary of Square Enix that has been most well known for working on the more recent Deus-Ex games and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This makes a lot of sense very quickly, as you can most definitely see the inspiration and DNA from those titles in areas of this game.

While the makeup of the team found in this game is clearly based on the main lineup from the recent movie appearances, this game is definitely not at all inspired by those films. Instead, Guardians of the Galaxy is very much an extension of their comic counterparts, while also obviously still instilling some of the character traits of those seen in the movies.

Unlike Marvel’s Avengers, this game is a single-player experience through and through, putting you in direct control of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord. Joining him on the team are Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, which all play a major part in the game’s combat system.

The game is not quite an origin story for the Guardians, as they have already been working together for a while. This is still early on in their career though, so there is a lot of animosity between some members of the team early on. Team relationships like Drax’s distrust of Gamora and their eventual growth play a big part in the game.

At the beginning of the game, the team visits what is known as the Quarantine Zone to find a worthy beast to sell to one known as Lady Hellbender. Things go awry both in the Quarantine Zone and out, leading to them getting arrested by the Nova Corps and introducing Peter’s old flame and Nova Corps Centurion Ko-Rel and her daughter Nikki.

From that point, the Guardians go off to try and get money to pay a fine to the Nova Corps before things go sideways very quickly. This comes about as a man named Grand Unifier Raker and his Universal Church of Truth tries to indoctrinate the entire galaxy, and of course, the Guardians have to go against him and his people to save it.

What makes Guardians of the Galaxy so great is the impressive cast of characters that you get entangled with throughout the game. Two of the standouts are easily Mantis and Cosmo, which manage to shine in their more limited screen time compared to the lead Guardians.

What makes Guardians of the Galaxy so great is the impressive cast of characters that you get entangled with throughout the game.

When just talking about the main five Guardians themselves, one of the best parts of the game is the banter back and forth between them. This occurs not just on their ship, The Milano, or in cutscenes, but all throughout your adventure. There is some dialogue that does repeat in certain areas if you’re taking a long time to search for collectables or taking longer in combat, but the sheer amount of original banter between the team in this game is quite impressive.

The enjoyment of this dialogue is also very much enhanced by the voice cast, which is not made up of household voice actor names in the least. Instead, they mostly chose to pick actors that had limited voice acting experience, allowing for fresh takes on the characters as a result. This extends beyond the main cast as well, with Mantis’s VA being one of the funniest in the entire game.

Guardians of the Galaxy also offers players dialogue choices throughout the game, allowing you to pick what you want Star-Lord to say in many situations. Some of these are just fun choices to pick, while others can actually influence parts of the game and lead you to conversations you would never have experienced otherwise. This adds a level of replayability to the game to see what different choices you could have made, though it’s nowhere near as in-depth as something like Mass Effect.

Some might expect to be able to switch between the different characters like in Final Fantasy VII Remake, but Guardians of the Galaxy instead keeps you in control of Star-Lord throughout the game.

Star-Lord features ranged-based combat most of the time with his Spartoian blasters, though he can also get up close and personal with melee combat as well. His guns start as basic as they can get, allowing you to simply hold down the right trigger to fire until they overheat and require you to wait for a cooldown. The game does feature a neat mechanic where you can time a button press to instantly cool down the weapon and start firing at an even higher pace for a short time.

As the game goes on though, you will obtain elemental upgrades to your special blasters in key moments. These then become not only useful in battle but also useful with traversing the environments and solving certain small puzzles. This ranges from using the ice upgrade to freeze water spouts to using the wind upgrade to pull objects out of the way.

He also has melee combat as well, but it’s certainly nothing to write home about. It’s very basic with one melee button you can use and can often be countered to where you have to press a button at just the right time to avoid being hit yourself. However, the aforementioned wind upgrade can make melee much more viable as you can pull enemies right to you in a stunned state. The melee combat works well enough in the game, but do not expect something like Spider-Man’s intricate combat system. Mixing these in is also very helpful as a way to alleviate when some of the enemies start to get a little too spongy later in the game.

Star-Lord isn’t alone though, as he has four teammates to help him throughout most of the game. Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot fight alongside you in battle, even though you do not have direct control of them. Instead, there are a few ways to use them to your advantage other than for the extra help against enemies.

The first of these is the interactable places located throughout the game in battle, where you can press Triangle on PS5 and get that squad member to perform something exclusive to them. These include Gamora cutting a box to drop on top of enemies or Rocket placing bombs that help to take out the enemy.

Your teammates are even more useful though when it comes to the abilities in Guardians of the Galaxy. All five members of the team have up to four abilities that they can unlock and use in battle, offering different moves that can deal damage, stagger, or even heal your team. These are easily accessible through a few button presses in battle too, making them an essential part of the battle system.

The first three abilities of each character are unlocked by spending Ability Points that you earn in the game through combat. Many games make it to where you cannot get every ability in a single run or at least make it more difficult, but you really should have no issue getting all of them in this game.

Guardians of the Galaxy also has a perks system that is specific to Star-Lord himself, with 15 upgrades being available for purchase. These are able to be done at workbenches that you will come across, which require the use of two types of components that you find scattered throughout the game. The only issue with these is that it is almost too easy to unlock all 15 with a few chapters to go in the game as long as you are keeping an eye out for the components. This makes you wish there were some more perks available to at least make carrying your save over to New Game Plus more worth it.

The Guardians of the Galaxy movie may be most well known for its stellar retro soundtrack and this game builds off of that with a standout soundtrack of its own.

The combat system also has one more mechanic that is completely original to this game known as Huddle Up. When your meter on the bottom right of the screen is full, you can press L1 + R1 to activate a team huddle. This cuts away from the battlefield itself and to a screen where your teammates start talking about things like confidence and how hard the enemy is and such.

You have to watch the words that are placed in the background carefully here and then select between one of two responses. If you choose the right one, which should be pretty obvious most of the time, you will motivate your entire team and get a buff. That is not all though, as it also leads to Star-Lord selecting a song from the game’s incredible soundtrack to start playing as well.

The Guardians of the Galaxy movie may be most well known for its stellar retro soundtrack and this game builds off of that with a standout soundtrack of its own. This includes some original tracks by the fictional Star-Lord band, but also more than 30 classic songs such as Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult, Take On Me by A-Ha, and The Final Countdown by Europe. These can be played at any time in the Milano, while also being found in certain points of the game’s story as well, which are always a treat to come across.

As for collectibles, there aren’t too many to be found in Guardians of the Galaxy. There are the aforementioned components you can find for the upgraded perks for Star-Lord, but the main collectible is the hidden costumes found in the game. These are hidden in boxes in areas off the beaten path, so you will have to always be alert for hidden alcoves or alternative paths to find them. The costumes found here are pretty neat too, ranging from those based on the films to some classic comic skins as well.

For a single playthrough, players will be looking at around 15-18 hours of total playtime, which can depend on how much time you are spending looking for the collectibles. This felt like a perfect length for this style of game, allowing the story to feel fully fleshed out without also overstaying its welcome.

Guardians of the Galaxy is everything that Marvel’s Avengers should have been, offering players a single-player focused adventure with some of your favorite comic book characters. Mixed in with solid gameplay and continuous witty banter between your teammates, Guardians of the Galaxy will leave you already excited for what you would expect to be the inevitable sequel.

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