Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Review
After the disappointing sales and reception of Marvel’s The Avengers, many gamers no longer trusted Square Enix to make a good comic book video game. When E3 introduced us to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, with its odd character models and not-so-interesting gameplay, people were less than excited.
Flying under the radar, Guardians of the Galaxy eventually found its way onto store shelves, and those who had low expectations were surprised by the fact that the game was being positively received by those who did give it a try. Although I was also originally reluctant to play the game, I’ve decided to put my first impressions aside and scope things out for myself.
So, let’s dig deep into the game and find out if it’s worth your time and money.
A single-player adventure
Guardians of the Galaxy is easily mistaken for a co-op multiplayer game due to the fact that the Guardians consist of a team of five characters. It’s a strictly single-player adventure, however, with players directly controlling Star-Lord throughout the entire game. Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax are all present and accompany the player in every fight, but they mainly act on their own.
The gameplay is not very innovative or fleshed out; most of the time, you’ll find yourself shooting at enemies or performing takedowns. Your AI companions can listen to certain commands and assist you in battle with their unlockable abilities. For example, Groot can pin enemies down for you, and then you can attack them at the same time.
You start off very weak, which makes the combat feel a bit repetitive at first, but you do unlock new abilities for Star-Lord, and the team-based attacks become more fun later on, too. Fortunately, there is enough variety in the enemies throughout the story, and the boss fights are interesting in the second half.
The game’s humor and dialogue are incorporated into the gameplay in a way. You can call your teammates over to you to discuss an ongoing battle, with the ability to choose what you say to them. If the pep talk is successful, the characters will receive a temporary buff and a licensed song will play for the duration of the buff.
Unfortunately, if you hate the gameplay at first, you won’t begin to like it later on, either. Whether it was time constraints or a general lack of creativity, it’s just not the best game you’ll play in terms of the gameplay alone. On the other hand, it does shine in other aspects that make up for it – which is what we’re moving on to now.
An engaging storyline
Guardians of the Galaxy truly shines in its narrative. The game has a surprisingly good storyline that showcases the honor-among-thieves personalities of the Guardians and how they get along with each other despite their differences. Since you play only as Star-Lord, the story is mainly centered on him and some of the important plot points are a bit personal to him.
The other characters are not just there to look pretty either – they are relevant to the story, too. There are minor story arcs centered around some of the other characters, and it’s all surprisingly heartfelt to witness. The developers of the game understand what makes the Guardians an entertaining team of characters and, whether it’s the humor, the heart, or the banter, everything translates beautifully into the game.
The game features moral choices throughout the story. Although not much changes most of the time based on what you choose, there are interesting effects now and then. For example, saving a character at one point in the game makes them come back to help you later on, and not paying a fine at another point in the story will unlock additional cutscenes, too.
These things keep the game interesting and make up for its lack of fun combat. And, for a team famous for their personalities, wackiness, and the heartfelt bond that they share – Guardians of the Galaxy manages to capture it all just right.
Not always a smooth ride
Depending on what platform you play the game on, you might experience some technical issues. Sometimes, the issues are very minor and, at other times, the game can be nearly unplayable unless you reset a checkpoint. Evidently, the team has been trying to fix them, since the game has received many patches – but it’s still not the best state to play it in given that it’s a relatively new game that costs full retail price.
Aside from the technical issues, the game still feels a bit unpolished in certain ways. Although it looks visually great in terms of the environments and the character design of most supporting characters – the Guardians themselves can sometimes feel a bit off. Drax’s skin looks a bit weird and takes some time to get used to, Star-Lord’s hair and facial expressions can be very odd at times, and so on.
Additionally, the combat, as mentioned before, can get a bit repetitive, and it just doesn’t feel that polished overall, especially due to a lack of options provided to the player. As much as I enjoyed the fact that this is a true single-player adventure, it still felt like a missed opportunity to not make the other Guardians playable, too.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a step in the right direction thanks to its focus on providing a story-rich single-player experience that is all about kicking back and having some fun with colorful characters. The gameplay is passable, the graphics are decent, the story is fun, and there’s a lot of humor that you won’t find anywhere else.
It’s far from perfect, however, and is lacking in many ways, as mentioned above. The inability to play as other Guardians, the average combat, and all of the technical issues keep it from being a great game.
Perhaps a sequel to this game or a different IP under Square Enix will follow the blueprints of Guardians of the Galaxy and provide an even better experience in the near future.