Overall - 95%
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a Flarkin Fantastic game. It's easily the best game of the year so far. My only disappointment? We need more Lipless.
Eidos-Montreal and Square Enix look to reinvigorate interest in the world of Marvel video games after a rather disappointing Avengers release with the release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Promising an all-new story alongside the beloved cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s a step away from more recent Marvel titles.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy follows the old-school approach to game design, something that feels quite odd saying, even today. It’s a single player, narrative-driven experience. There’s no microtransactions, no store, no needless multiplayer component thrown on, no game as a service, it’s just a good ol’ fashioned game, and a bloody incredible one at that.
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Game Review
The story begins as a young Peter Quill (Star-Lord) sits inside his basement bedroom rocking out to some tunes. Celebrating his 13th birthday, you explore his home; a treasure trove of the 80s. There’s a set of D&D dice on the table, an Ian Livingston choose-your-own-adventure book on the shelf, a Tron poster on the wall, and a wookie toy laying around. This flashback represents Star Lords “origin story,” albeit a shortened version. Throughout the game, the perspective switches between flashback and current day events, making it perfectly easy to follow for those yet to sample any previous adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Guardians find themselves in hot water (no surprise there) after being caught by Nova Corps, a galactic peace force led by Worldmind, as they attempt to smuggle illegal materials out of a quarantined zone – accidentally releasing one of the biggest threats the universe has ever seen. What begins as an adventure to pay off the Nova Corps fine quickly becomes the Guardian’s biggest test yet, fighting against the Universal Church of Truth in an incredible story truly fitting of a Marvel epic.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy focuses on narrative above all else, a blindingly stark contrast to Avengers. The cast is absolutely incredible from start to finish. The voice acting, the script; it’s flawless. I rarely find myself laughing out loud when playing a game alone but not only was I grinning from ear to ear from start to finish; I lost count of the times I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s easily the funniest game I’ve ever played, and not once does it take anything away from the otherwise serious nature of saving an entire galaxy of people. In the same 10 minute period I could be laughing out loud at one of Drax’s one liners, the next he’s having a heart wrenching conversation with Star-Lord about losing his family. It’s fantastic.
I sat for about 20 minutes trying to choose my favorite moment from the game, but even now I’m not sure. One that I think everyone will love is an encounter with an alien called Lipless. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Star-Lord attempts to convince Lipless he remembers their past escapades through song. I don’t think I have ever witnessed a funnier moment in a video game.
I can’t recall a game with a script as sharp as Guardians of the Galaxy. Drax, a character that has quickly become one of my favorite all time, constantly delivers one liners that are unexpected and absolutely hilarious, the banter between the team is fresh and until right at the very end, and I didn’t experience a single issue of repeated dialogue. It’s not simply scripted scenes of conversation either; there’s a far greater attention to detail.
Running off the beaten path will have your team moan and complain about Peter wasting time or getting into trouble. One of the scenes in the flashback, where Peter’s mum asks him to rush upstairs to eat his cat, completely changes depending on how long it takes you to explore Peter’s bedroom and go upstairs. This painstaking attention to detail is constant throughout, and really helps to create a living, breathing narrative adventure that’s all too rare in the AAA space nowadays. Even a broken fridge on the ship, something you can easily miss and never interact with, is mentioned in final moments of the game.
The real driving force behind the Guardians of the Galaxy, beside the comedic genius, is teamwork, something that was clearly an integral part of the design from the very early stages. Overcoming the odds fighting alongside trusted friends, a component that comes into play during both important story decisions and combat. Throughout the story, the player is given the choice on how to respond to many conversations and dialogues. While most of these have minimal impact, merely changing the responding characters lines, some of them carry some weight. It never feels cheap or pointless, because the story is crafted so well that every line feels wortwhile.
The combat in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a slow burn. Experience is earned after each battle, which can be spent on unlocking three abilities for each of the five characters. The combat system really begins to shine once all of the abilities are unlocked, but this doesn’t happen until the latter stages of the game.
While the full crew are present for most of the fights, the player will always control Star-Lord. While his abilities are not as extravagant as his companions, it’s more of a leadership role, echoing the importance of team work from the Guardians history. As well as a number of his own abilities, Star-Lord can command any of the Guardians to use their abilities. This allows for some explosive combos. Using Groot to root enemies in place before rocket throws a grenade, as Star-Lord soars above and drops explosives down below. It’s rewarding, thrilling, and gorgeously delivered.
Despite the action-packed animations and explosive abilities, my favorite part of the combat is the Huddle. The Huddle bar builds over time, and once full Star-Lord can initiate a huddle. He lifts his legendary cassette player into the air and calls the Guardians in. There’s a brief discussion on how the battle is going and then Star-Lord chooses a line of dialogue to motivate the team. Choose correctly and everyone gets a huge damage buff, mess it up and only Star-Lord gets the buff. It may seem a simple feature but it’s the perfect embodiment of the Guardians, and it’s summarized by another of the games most impressive features – its soundtrack.
Outside of Grand Theft Auto, there has never been a better collection of licensed music in a single video-game. I was fighting a rather tough group of enemies, Drax was down, Rocket was upset, Groot was, well, Groot, things were going bad. I called a Huddle. The Guardians gathered up. I listened to their woes and initiated my most motivating response. It failed. The Huddle dispersed and what was the soundtrack for the rest of the battle? Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley. Yup, it’s 2021 and I still got rick rolled. Later, I was kicking small bugs around a fight as Bonnie Tyler was blasting out, another time I was rocking out to Def Leppard. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap but the soundtrack for the game is the perfect companion for both the story and the action scenes.
Much of the game is very linear, but not in a negative way. You explore a variety of different planets, visiting Lady Hellbender and her army of monsters, you roam frozen wastelands in search of a very specific extraterrestrial dragon-like creature, the environments are breathtaking in places, despite the simplicity of the linear design.
Missions are straightforward and easy to follow and there’s hidden paths and secret routes you can find to locate crafting materials and outfits. Crafting is very basic, just unlocking new abilities for Star-Lords weapons. Outfits, which can be changed at any point in the game, are all available for free, just through exploring. Strange I have to point that out, but that’s the industry today.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is what happens when you give a passionate studio that know their craft free reign to work on such fantastic source material. Each of the Guardians are perfect representations of who they are, expertly voiced, beautifully written. Even the supporting cast, characters such as Lipless, Lady Hellbender, and this strange space Llama, all memorable and so well delivered.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a flarkin fantastic game; it’s easily the best game of the year so far. My only disappointment? We need more Lipless.
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