It’s not more than a month since I fared well in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy after what had been a somewhat motley and awkward marketing campaign. Actually playing as Star-Lord and commanding the guards in battle was anything but awkward, and after just over an hour behind the levers, I was about to be convinced.
Now I have spent the weekend putting the rest of the adventure behind me, and after barely 15 hours we can state that this is far better than what we first feared.
Genuine and believable
As it should be, this is a stand-alone adventure based on the comics and films of the same name, respectively, without there being any direct links to what has come before. Instead, Eidos Montréal uses his flair for dialogue and characters to create a new narrative about the suspicious gang of space guards, and this is surprisingly the game’s greatest strength.
The adventure has a very good flow, and there is constantly something at stake, whether you are captured by Nova Corps, explore an inhospitable planet or dive deeper into one of the main characters’ prehistory.
As expected, the characters are central throughout the journey, and I take several times to really care about what happens to them. This is despite the fact that the five core members are all fallible in many different ways, and I have already seen some of these facets before.
Groot still only says “I am Groot”; Gamora and Drax are stubborn and stubborn killing machines; while the quarrel between Rocket and Star-Lord was a bit annoying already in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie from 2014. Behind all these usual moments and dialogue exchanges, however, there are deep and well-written personalities, with several genuinely touching and believable single moments.
This is balanced against the original humor’s typical humor, and although not everything hits the mark, I usually get a little excited.
The developers also allow the player to make many choices along the way, and these have a real impact on things that happen during the journey. A choice in the eighth chapter, for example, proved to weaken one of the last boss enemies in the game greatly, while a decision I made already in chapter two gave me access to several locked doors far into the adventure.
Nice and colorful galaxy
Not all parts of the story are equally twisted, and I gradually notice that the game is a bit in the long run. Some sequences could with advantage have been shorter, but for the most part the action maintains a very high level, which thanks to its linearity never manages to get boring.
The game is colorful, nice and fast-paced, without me ever having time to be blown off course by the visuals. The characters are beautiful in their own way, but both faces and animations are stiffest made throughout large parts of the game.
But there is still some variation here, and the developers should have praised that. Not only are there tons of different main and side characters, but you also explore a whole lot of surroundings.
The typical outpost Knowhere, for example, allows us to get to know aliens of all kinds, while we check out various future gadgets; while a tour of Lady Hellbender’s high seat at Seknarf Nine offers several crucial dialogue choices, tons of fighting and repeated races against time.
Quick and playful
Common to most things you do is the focus on fast and playful gameplay, and nothing reflects this better than the game’s hesitant combat system. We play mainly only as Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord, but can actively give commands to and activate super attacks from the other members of the gang.
Star-Lord poses with his typical laser pistols and simple blows and kicks, before eventually unlocking element-based laser types and four unique special attacks. The remaining characters also unlock extra attacks as you play, so that for a while in the game you can activate up to 16 unique features from the other members of the gang.
The wooden giant Groot can then, for example, send out roots that gag enemies; Gamora uses her sword to inflict enormous damage; Rocket Raccoon uses bullets and grenades to control the battlefield; while Drax lashes out at opponents to stun them. The different attacks often work well together, so that with a little planning and maneuvering you can get rid of bad guys more effectively.
And it mostly works well. Playing as the most down-to-earth character in the role gallery could quickly become a bit one-sided, but the shooting is fast and hard-hitting, with good use of “active reload” and tons of enemies to catch up with.
Give me Bonnie Tyler, or give me death!
However, it gets a bit much of a good thing at times, with some matches being dragged out a little too long and others showing up a little too often. Especially in the last act of the game, I notice that I am starting to get fed up with the fighting, and the lack of rewarding upgrades beyond the first couple of hours does not help either.
In addition to this, it happens occasionally for fast away. Enemies, explosions and bullets fill the screen to bursting point, and it becomes chaotic in such a way that it is easy to stumble on their own feet.
This also bears the mark of the game’s use of music. One of the things I liked most about last month’s sneak peek was the way cuddly eighties songs were incorporated into the experience – as match “boosters” you can activate at irregular intervals – but this works far from as well in the final game.
The “huddle” mechanics are admittedly very exciting in and of themselves, but the effect is often too short-lived. The music disappears when the current fight is over, and it’s never good to know how many enemies you have to deal with in each round – sometimes I only managed to hear two or three stanzas, before Starship and Rick Astley said thank you separately.
The game also does not allow me to hand-pick which of the melodies I want on the cassette player at all times, and the fact that I went through the whole game without Stumbling over Holding Out for a Hero, Take on Me or Everybody Wants to Rule the World, is completely unheard of. Literally!
One of the other games that struggles the most is the fact that the characters are extremely talkative. It seldom takes many seconds between each time someone reads a line, and even if the dialogues as previously mentioned can be very well written, it gets a bit mostly made.
Several times it happens that the conversations simply eat each other alive – especially when you arrive in a new area – and I am torn and torn between my desire to finish hearing what the gang is talking about, and to want to move on through the levels.
The voice acting is also a slightly mixed experience. On the one hand, these are living and human voices, but there are several sequences where things fall apart, especially when it is to be illusory that the characters shout at each other in battle or in the face of great enemies. The main characters’ tendency to replace ordinary swear words with small kaudervelsk is also something I hope I never need to relate to again.
All in all, it simply gets very fussy and noisy at times.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy impresses periodically thanks to good flow, believable characters and satisfying gameplay, but fails to keep up with the barely 15 hours of history.
The game delivers a lot in the form of variety, real dialogue choices and colorful action sequences, and it is a pleasure to get to know these editions of the space heroes. I notice that some of the unique personalities are things I have seen and experienced before, but the extra screen time allows you to get to know everyone involved better.
This leads to a handful of genuinely touching moments on the journey, and the humor along the way is not too bad either.
It all gets a little too chaotic, a little too fussy and a little too unpolished for their own good. Even though it is enormous with charm and warmth at the bottom.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (tested), Xbox One, Xbox Series S / X, Windows and Nintendo Switch. For other superhero games, we can recommend Marvel’s Spider-Man and inFamous: Second Son.