We’re quickly approaching the end of the year, and it’s been full of great games. Some have been expected to be great but there’s been a few that have caught me by surprise. However, nothing could have prepared me for the joys of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG).
Although this had been rumoured to be in development for a few years, E3 2021 was our first look at the game. Fans were excited but also concerned after some of the choices made during the development of Square Enix’s other Marvel game, Marvel’s Avengers. I’ve written recently that it’s not as bad as some would have you think, but simply put, the style of game made doesn’t suit the subject material.
Add to this that it was going to be released about 6 months after our first look, and people were already thinking this would be a rehash of what had been done before.
But this time, gone is the games as a service, microtransactions and multiplayer and instead, we get a straight-up 3rd person story-based single-player action-adventure game.
Internet feedback has been overwhelmingly positive since its release on October the 26th, so I took the plunge and suited up for an adventure with Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot, Gamora and Drax. I was only about 30 seconds into my play-thru when the soundtrack kicked in and I started to get that warm fuzzy feeling we all get when something good happens. This game rocks in more ways than one.
The soundtrack is outstanding and features a good number of classic rock and pop anthems, and you’ve also got original tracks by the fictional band “Star-Lord”. If you haven’t seen it yet, go google the music video that’s been created for their track Zero to Hero for a taste of what you’ll hear.
As the first level loaded I was impressed with the visuals on offer, and this continues throughout the whole game. Guardians is one of the best looking games I’ve played all year. Outside of ray tracing (which introduced a bit of stutter on my pc), the performance has been great. Consoles have had a couple of patches to improve performance and issues, so support should be ok, but I haven’t experienced anything yet that’s had me worried. The colours used in the backgrounds and environments (of which there is a good variety) really pop and give the game a unique look.
Maybe it’s the greater focus on the story, but Guardians also manage to avoid the pound shop version of characters that was felt in the Avengers game. It only took a few minutes of gameplay for me to start to love the team and not expect the faces or voices to match that of the Marvel movies.
The story is typical comic book stuff, but it’s fun and you’ll learn more about the team on your journey during the 15-20 hours of gameplay (leaving this a bit generic as I HATE spoilers). However, one thing that I wasn’t expecting from the game was a dialogue system.
It’s nowhere near as complex as something like Mass Effect (it’s closer to Telltale games style but with fewer options), but it’s an interesting choice and can change gameplay on a level from being a stealth mission to a say a firefight. It’s not always as big as that and might just be discussions among the team and they might let you know if they don’t like your response. Although I’ve not completed the game but don’t go expecting multiple options and branching storylines, this is more right and left choices at set times and it all leads to one end.
Combat is a lot more complex than what I would expect for a game like this. Although you only control Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, you can control the other Guardian’s special abilities. They all affect enemies differently and it took a while to get used to using them all at the right time. Outside of that, they will auto-attack whoever is on screen, but these attacks are a bit like using a tap to fight a forest fire.
Bringing these two features together is “The Huddle”. Max out your momentum bar and you’ll have the option to pull the team together for a pep talk. You’ll get a couple of dialogue options to rally the team and if you pick the best option, one of the licenced tracks from the game’s soundtrack will start and every teammate will have a stat boost to help take down your enemies faster. I’m worried this is becoming a little repetitive, but it’s a great idea and the results can be amazing. (My personal favourite so far has been dismembering a giant squid-like alien to ever gonna give you up by Rick Astley…..)
There is also light puzzle elements in some parts of the game, these are normally solved by using one of the teams special abilities (and sometimes combining multiple abilities at once) to interact with something that you can’t. It can be pretty simple stuff, but again like most things in the game, it’s fun and done well.
During levels, you’ll also be collecting salvage to upgrade Star-Lord’s abilities. There are health boosts and weapons upgrades that’ll help as you face bigger threats as the story goes on. That’s not all though, as there are other collectables to keep an eye out for like costumes and even special items that unlock additional dialogue options to get more personal stories from the Guardians when your in-between missions on the Milano (The Guardians spaceship).
The additional costumes look amazing and it’s definitely worth your time to stray a little from the story path to track these down. This also means that they can all be earned just by playing…..not DLC….not microtransactions…just gameplay. It’s sad that this is something I need to point out or praise, but the developers Eidos-Montréal should be proud that they’ve been able to avoid the same tactics that others would have used here.
Another highlight of my time so far, was when I walked away from the other Guardians to collect something that had shown up on Star-Lords visor in the distance. As I walked off, I could hear Rocket start to ask if I had seen another shiny trinket or something to collect…..This is the feature I’ve loved the most. The sometimes friendly, somethings sarcastic banter between the Guardians. It’s extremely well written(and acted to be fair), and a perfect example of why Guardians works so well.
I never knew about the Guardians of the Galaxy before going to see their on-screen debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and had my eyes opened up to the joys that they could bring. That lead me to delve into their comics and back story to find out more about the team. I hope that this game can do the same for gamers, as it’s a great mix of personal stories and togetherness all wrapped in a tightly wrapped bundle of solid controls, great writing and outstanding visuals. Please don’t sleep on Guardians of the Galaxy, buy it and experience it as soon as you can. It’s an unexpected gem of a game and the more people that buy it makes it more likely that we get a sequel.