Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is Eidos Montreal’s second crack at a Marvel IP. The first is of course last year’s Marvel’s Avengers, a game that was plague with numerous issues. Least of which was an identity crisis with the game being so many things at once that it never did any one thing great. It is abundantly clear that Eidos Montreal has taken what they have learned from Marvel’s Avengers and brought it over to Guardians. This game clearly had established its identity early in development and it shows in how the game plays and how it is presented.
Players are put into the jet-powered boots of Star Lord as he and his band of misfits struggle to make a name for themselves after a war that ravaged the entire galaxy. Emphasis on the misfits. From the very beginning, it is clear that the team still does not trust each other. You have Drax who is not happy that a daughter of Thanos has joined the Team. Gamora who is still stand-offish as she is the newest member. Rocket, in spite of being a very small creature, has a huge ego and can’t help but snap at anyone who questions him. The only sane member is Groot. Well, I think he is. No one really understands him except for Rocket and who knows if he is translating accurately.
The game starts back in earth with a young Peter Quill listening to a fictional band called “Star-Lord”. You are introduced to his mother and after a short dialogue, you are transported into present day inside the Guardian’s ship: The Milano. The game will bring you back to young Peter throughout the game. While I did enjoy seeing Peter’s relationship with his mother prior to him leaving earth. These segments do disrupt the flow of the game.
Once in the Milano, you can explore the entire ship from the cargo bay to the cockpit. You can talk to the other Guardians and also go into each of the guardians’ room. The characters will have mission-specific dialogue as well as optional dialogues which you can unlock by finding artifacts throughout the story. There are also dialogue options in the game. Mostly, it is to side with one guardian over the other. These are quite tense as it can impact how characters react to you and the guardians in general and it impacts the game in a way I will not spoil.
When outside the Milano, the game is a third-person shooter where you fight a wide variety of enemies from a simple jelly creature to towering robots. Some of them you need to stagger before being able to actually do proper damage. Luckily, Star-Lord has the ability to command the guardians to use their skills. Each guardian has 3 skills that can be unlocked by using ability points you earn through leveling up with a 4th and final skill that unlocks in the story. While limited, the skills match the respective guardian well. Star-Lord has the ability to use his jet boots to hover in the battlefield, Groot can entangle a group of enemies with his vines, Drax and Gamora charge in dealing stagger and lethal damage respectively.
The major downside of the skill system is that while each guardian has 4 skills, all skills operate on a single cooldown. This did lessen the joy of unlocking a new skill to the point where I often just stack ability points and then realize that I saved enough to unlock 2 or 3 at a time. While not as fun, this does force you to use your skills wisely.
Outside commanding the guardians to use their skills, you can also command them to help navigate the terrain. Groot can create bridges to help the guardians cross to a different platform. Drax can punch weak walls or move platforms. Rocket can hack doors open. Gamora hacks passages too but she uses her sword. While this sounds like the game gives you a lot of options for exploring, unfortunately these are seldom used to explore the area but mostly for stopping the action and having the characters talk and quibble with each other which is always fun.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is pretty linear and you move from one place to another at breakneck speed. While out and about, you basically go in a straight line stopping only to fight off the baddies and solve the map puzzle here and there. There is light exploring which is usually just a small hidden area where you can pick up materials to upgrade Peter’s gear. You can upgrade his gear on a workbench that you can find either on the map or in the Milano.
Peter’s upgrades focus on his Visor, Pistols and Suit. There are about 2 or 3 important upgrades. The rest, while unlocked, I never did use that often. Even the passive upgrades did not feel like it impacted my gameplay that much. Worry not, you will be able to unlock all perks as long as you are willing to explore here and there.
The actual combat of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is interesting. Monsters come in different shapes and sizes. Some are weak to specific types of elemental attacks. As mentioned earlier, some also need to be staggered before they can even feel the damage. The game also introduces new enemy types throughout the game that spices up the combat every time it starts to feel dull. The variety is what keeps the game engaging as you will need to constantly change how you fight even in a single combat encounter.
In combat, Peter has the ability to huddle the guardians together. This will pull you out of the combat and as the leader, you need to hype up the team by picking one of two choices. You will need to listen to what the guardians say to maximize the effect. If you get it right, you and your entire team will get a huge damage boost. If you get it wrong, only Star-Lord will get the buff. Regardless of outcome, hype up also revives any downed guardian. The other thing the huddle does is change the music to a banger from the 70’s which also has the effect of hyping up you – the player.
The story of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is amazing. I don’t know how to explain how amazing it is without spoiling any characters or events that might pop up but I can say for a game that is around 16 hours long, it did not get tiring. The story and pacing kept me engaged the entire time. Every new character, new mystery, new story point was done really well and you can clearly see that Eidos Montreal had a reverence for the source material that would make any comic fan just giddy the entire time.
It’s not all positives though. While playing I did encounter a few technical issues like UI not resetting properly and frame drops here and there. There was a huge set piece where my game slowed down to about 10 frames per second. This is usually something that turns me off but the game, the story and even the characters just made me want to push through those sections and continue playing.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is literally the most fun I had playing a game all year. There is a magic here that everyone, even casual fans of the MCU should experience.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – Review
You know that it’s an amazing game that can also be described as almost perfect