A goofy cosmic adventure with a lot of laughs, a lot of heart, and a ton of narrative surprises.
Superhero games have often varied in quality but over the last few years, we have seen more hits than misses. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Spiderman: Miles Morales are two notable examples, and Injustice: Gods Among Us, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, and the Deadpool video game are also worthy of mention.
More games in the genre are on the way, including Gotham Knights and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Hopes are high for these titles, especially after the success of this latest title under review, Guardians Of The Galaxy, which was released at the end of October. The game has proven very popular with gamers, probably because of their love for the Guardians/Avengers movies that have pushed this ragtag bunch of characters into the spotlight. But is it any good?
Thankfully, my answer is yes! Square Enix, the publisher of the title, disappointed many with their last superhero outing, Marvel’s Avengers, which was transaction-heavy and too heavily focused on online play. There were fears that the Guardians game would go the same way, but thankfully this is much better than that underwhelming effort. Why?
Well, there are no microtransactions, for starters, which is always good news for gamers tired of having to pay more money on a game they have already purchased. It’s also a story-driven, single-player adventure, with no online multiplayer content at all.
This may seem a little surprising, as a game where other players could take control of the Guardians almost makes perfect sense. However, considering the problems associated with Marvel’s Avengers, it’s quite refreshing that developers Eidos have decided to push the story to the fore.
And what a story this game tells! Over the course of its roughly 18 hours of game time, we experience an engaging, sometimes heartfelt plotline, that does justice to the game’s comic book origins.
The characters you expect are all here, including Peter ‘Starlord’ Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot, and they all get a decent amount of backstory to make us root for them. I never expected to care so much about Drax and Rocket for example, two characters that are largely known for their comic relief. There are even moments here when I was tempted to shed a tear when learning of their respective histories. I will give away no spoilers here but expect to be moved as well as entertained by the narrative plot points that mark their journeys.
Other characters also get a look-in, including Mantis, the empath with the ability to sense other people’s feelings, and Adam Warlock, a character we are going to see again in the next Guardians movie. They do more than offer gamers simple fan service as they add to the game in their own unique ways, but again, I am not going to dip into spoiler territory in case it ruins the experience for you.
The game is played from Peter’s perspective so gamers don’t have the opportunity to take full control of the other Guardians. However, they each have their own skill-sets, and for the most part, gamers can choose when to use and level up these abilities via a few simple button presses.
Gameplay-wise, it’s pretty standard, with lots of run and gun scenes, platforming bits, environmental puzzles, and the occasional boss fight. While basic, it’s still pretty enjoyable and engaging, especially after the ‘The Huddle’ segments when Peter gives his team a pep talk. Should the player make the right conversation choices doing these brief scenes, a burst of 80’s era music will start to play and this helps to liven up the battle scenes that are about to ensue.
In fact, some of these battles can be quite heavy going, with wave after wave of monsters appearing, so the lightheartedness provided by the music of Wang Chung, Rick Astley, Blondie, and more, helps to make these encounters a little more bearable.
Commanding your teammates is easy and as abilities are introduced gradually, you never feel overwhelmed when deciding who should do what and when. As pathways are fairly linear, it’s also very hard to get lost or stuck, which helps to make life easier for the player.
Crafting options are available if you want to level up your guns but as there are a lot of abilities to play with, you may decide to stick with these over gunplay for most of the time, except when you need to use certain elemental bullets for specific enemy encounters.
For the most part, the game is very good indeed. I played it on a PS5 where the framerate was very smooth, although there have been reports of slowdown on last-generation machines.
The graphics are okay, though rarely mind-blowing, and there are a large number of environments, from spaceships to alien planets, to venture around in. The game’s funny when it needs to be, especially in regards to the banter between each character. And there are lots of twists and turns within the story that kept me interested throughout.
On the downside, the game can be a little buggy. I had to load up a previous checkpoint a couple of times due to problems encountered while playing. However, as the checkpointing system is very generous, this wasn’t as aggravating as it could have been. Other than that, I can’t rustle up any more negatives as my experience was mostly a very positive one.
Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t going to set the world on fire but it is a lot of fun. If you love the characters, have a thing for 80’s music, and want something that won’t take you a weekend to finish, then I think you will have a good time with this. It’s a goofy cosmic adventure with a lot of laughs and a lot of heart and is far, far better than I expected it to be after seeing early gameplay footage.
As Peter says in the game, “Sometimes, the thing you’ve been looking for your whole life is right there by your side all along.” If you have been looking for a great superhero game, but have overlooked this one due to the bad press this genre sometimes gets, now is the time to double back on yourself. If you’re a comic book fan, this could well be the game you have been looking for!
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Verdict - 8/10