Guardians of the Galaxy Review
You are Star-Lord,
so nothing’s off-limits with your bold combat style, from Element Blasters and jet boot-powered dropkicks to tag-team beat-downs. With the Guardians fighting at your side, call the shots and overwhelm your opponents with signature attacks. Meanwhile, the consequences of your decisions will range from light-hearted to downright unexpected as your journey unfolds.
Your newly-formed band of legendary misfits is set to save the universe in this fresh but faithful take on the Guardians of the Galaxy. Somehow, you set off a chain of catastrophic events, leading to a wild ride through mind-blowing worlds inhabited by iconic and original Marvel characters. Turn up the all-star ‘80s mixtape and get ready to kick it.
You’re the only thing holding the unpredictable Guardians together, so you’ll have to get better at this leadership thing fast. With this offbeat approximation of a family at your side, there will be tears and laughter as you set about tearing into the cosmos together. Whatever’s waiting around the next corner, you know it’s going to be a blast.
When Guardians of the Galaxy was first shown, I was a little hesitant, not because I’m not a fan, hell if anything I am a major mark for Marvel-related stuff mostly. But I was burned a little bit by Avengers, which by all accounts was a great single-player campaign with a great story wrapped around it (and the DLC that followed continued that) but they added the bizarre multiplayer end game stuff that just didn’t add up for me. So a lot of the marketing for Guardians made sure to call out that this was a single-player campaign only, but then many folks got upset that they were only going to play as Star-Lord. I was a little relieved when they said this, I was worried that bouncing around from team member to team member was going to be tough, swapping out depending on the situation and the skills needed, etc etc. But they made it clear that you would (As Star-Lord) call out commands for the rest of the team mid-combat, but we will get more into that later. No matter what I was eager to get my hands on this one to see what it was going to be all about.
Genuinely speaking this game is pretty hard to categorize, but I will do my best here. If you had to high-level sum it up for a gamer I would say it’s a bit of Mass Effect, sprinkled with some Destiny, and a dash of TellTale Games. I’ll be able to explain this in more detail as we go along.
So yes you only truly get to control Star-Lord in this adventure. But it’s done in what I think was the best way possible. Your gang of Guardians travel by your side and automatically engage in any combat you come across, causing instant chaos (which fits the Guardians vibe). As you charge up your abilities you can target and call out the other members to perform special attacks or actions mid-field. You can call Groot to tangle up all the enemies in vines so that they can’t move, you can have Drax pick up a boulder and throw it at opponents, and so on. Each Guardian has 4 moves they can eventually perform (once you have upgraded them) including yourself. Once you’ve charged up enough mid-combat you can call a team huddle (which in reality is hilarious and completely ridiculous that no one attacks you while you are all huddled but ya know it’s a comic book game) during these interactions the team will talk about how the battle is going, or argue, and you have to pick the right dialogue option to boost the morale of your team, if successful you come out of the huddle causing more damage and with more shields. If you fail, you still get the same perks just for a very short period of time, and the team mocks you. When outside of battle you can still command other Guardians to perform actions like having Rocket fit into small spaces, or have Gamora give you a boost to get up onto a platform as well. So in reality, yes they are your team, but they operate more as special moves and abilities.
But do not think for one second that this would reduce the importance of the characters, this game is simply oozing with personality. The Guardians as always bumbling their way through things, while fighting 75% of the time and it falls on Star-Lord to keep the peace whenever possible. This is kind of where the Tell-Tale inspiration comes into play. There are many decisions you have to make along the way that influences your relationships with the team and ALSO affect how the story goes. Star-Lord has a lot of flaws and trauma in his past, as does the entire team honestly and you are put in charge to try and rally the team and guide them through the journey as a team and as individuals.
As a Marvel fan, there are A LOT of deep cuts and Easter eggs that could be missed, or go over folks’ heads. While it enhanced my enjoyment I can see it possible detracting a little bit for folks not really into the actual Guardians (not just the movie versions). The story takes LOTS of twists and turns (which kept me engaged in what was going on) and is very well crafted overall, another win along with the Marvels Avengers game.
A big part of the Guardian’s identity is the music, and this game does not disappoint at ALL. There are many great songs woven in and out of this game, used both in battle (after you do a huddle) and even on the ship you can use the radio to select a tune. While they have shifted from 70’s music from the movies to more ’80s influenced stuff, it’s all fantastic and helps keep that guardian’s vibe.
Besides being able to upgrade the special abilities of the Guardians you can also collect resources to upgrade Star-Lord (Guns, boots, visor, armor) via workbenches with the help of Rocket to tweak your gear. So be on the lookout for items to collect to allow these upgrades. You can also find alternative costumes hidden in levels to change the look of everyone on the team. There are also collectibles you find that open up special dialogues when back on the ship with each character which helps you learn more about them and their past, yes even Groot, although when Rocket’s not around to translate, it’s a hilarious interaction of “I am Groot” with no other context.
While there are options in conversation and choices to make throughout the story, the game is largely linear. Land on a ship or planet and make your way to the objective. Each area however is quite large with lots of optional exploring to do to find unlockables and stuff to upgrade with. Since the team never really stops interacting as well, there is some great dialogue stuff going on at all times.
Visually the game looks good, fits the look and feel of a comic book game, doesn’t go for hyper-realism but it doesn’t suffer from that. Loads of vibrant colors and textures to be had. I did experience a few glitches in my playthrough (there were no patches during the review period, so unsure if anything is in place to correct) but they were all limited to me reloading the last checkpoint which at most in my experience was 2 or 3 minutes back, and didn’t happen where I had to redo a boss fight or anything. They were all caused by a team member not being with me so the game wouldn’t advance to the next area, or the elevator wouldn’t start. Again nothing really detracted much at all, and nowadays we seem to expect a certain level of flaws anyway.
All in all this game is A LOT of fun, there are laughs to be had, arguments to settle, aliens to fight. If you are a fan of the Guardians there isn’t much NOT to like. If you are indifferent to them, if you like Mass Effect, this should be worth a look for you.