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‘Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Review & Gameplay, Explained: What Makes The Game Worth Playing?

Superhero games are awesome, aren’t they? We love reading about them in comics and then watching them in action in the movies, but gaming is a medium that is the best suited for these larger-than-life figures if you ask me. I mean, in comics, you get to read about their actions and enjoy them through gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations. In movies, you get to see said actions, but they are what the directors envision, whereas in video games, not only do we get to see said actions, we get to control, script, and direct them in exactly our way. Whether it’s Batman beating the snot out of a large group of thugs or Spider-Man swinging across New York City and running up walls, we, as the player, get to direct our own superhero movie when we play superhero games.

With the rise of awareness and interest in the superhero sphere, all thanks to the MCU, gaming is also slowly but surely reaping those benefits and delivering us nigh regular superhero games to enjoy. Warner Bros. with their “Arkham” series and now “Gotham Knights” and “Wonder Woman” in the future, with an itsy-bitsy rumor stating that a “Superman” game is also in the works (please be real). Sony with their “Marvel’s Spider-Man ” games (it sucks they are exclusive to their platform, mind you) and “Marvel’s Wolverine” coming out in the future. EA with their “Marvel’s Iron-Man ” game and 2 more Marvel projects that we know nothing about. More recently, Firaxis with “Marvel’s midnight Suns.” We have been getting a steady stream of superhero games, and the future looks even more exciting and promising. Then we have Square Enix, who tried to put their name in the hat by releasing “Marvel’s Avengers,” and we all know how that went down. Personally, I don’t think the combat in the game is bad; the story was serviceable as well. It was the gameplay structure and the games as a service (that god knows why they opted for) that ruined the game, and as we all know, in September this year, it’s shutting down. There’s no need to beat that dead horse, so let’s move on to their next entry.

A year after “Marvel’s Avengers” was released, Square Enix and Eidos Montreal announced their next superhero game, “Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy.” It came out of nowhere, and because of the disastrous disappointment that was the “Avengers” game, I don’t think anyone even bothered to pay any attention to the game. The type was non-existent pretty much, and nobody cared enough to be bothered by the fact that this game is coming out. Boy, were we wrong. Not only “Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy” was a damn good superhero game, but it also did a fantastic job of showcasing how talented teams can handle these IPs only if the parent company lets them do what they want and not meddle in their affairs by shoving words like “live service” and “microtransactions’. Alas, these folks will never learn, but either way, let’s take a look at “Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy” and see what makes it worth playing.

The Premise

I’ll keep this section short and sweet, as everyone knows who and what these heroes are at this point, I am sure. The way this story starts is not the way it goes and is one that you should unravel and discover on your own. The game begins with our crew outside a quarantined zone of space that is being patrolled by Nova Corps. The gang are on a job and wish to salvage the area of any resources and make some money out of it. They enter and explore the zone, as this serves as your tutorial area. they come across weird monsters that they fight, and they end up finding a yellow stone(I won’t say it, but you know what I am talking about!) which causes them some issues and releases a weird monster inside the zone. They try to escape and get captured by Nova Corps, who fine them for infiltrating a quarantine zone, and poof, the journey begins. A lot happens in the middle that I have purposefully skipped over, but the story starts with the Guardians traversing across the galaxy (no pun intended) to collect money to pay for the fine, and the rest you can find out on your own. It’s a plot that starts simple but gets complex as you keep playing, with tons of hilarious and emotional moments peppered throughout. The game does a fantastic job of showcasing the uneasy alliance our heroes share with each other since they have joined forces quite recently and the mischief they get into. These characters are represented earnestly with tons of fan service, easter eggs, and popular characters from the mythos who you’ll come across as you journey through the game. I’ll give one minor character spoiler here incase you didn’t know about it, but Cosmo The SpaceDog is in the game, and that automatically means a win from me! I’ll end this section by saying that the story and representation of the characters are fantastic here, and in my opinion, this story is leagues above and better than the ones in the movies.

The Gameplay

Alright, this is where the game falls short a bit, but at the same time, it works, and it’s alright. “Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy” is a third-person, linear, action-adventure game that features good combat and very interesting levels. You play as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, here exclusively, which means the other Guardians are not playable, unfortunately. That doesn’t matter that much because they do play a big part in your combat, and you can command them to use different moves, which adds a bunch of flair and gives you some control over them.

The game is spread across 16 chapters that will take you to different parts of the galaxy, where each level looks incredible and highly detailed(more on that later). The combat here is very basic, with Star-Lord being able to punch and shoot people using his blasters. He can also sweep across the area, perform double jumps, and slide across thanks to his rocket boots, and that’s the extent of what you’ll be doing. Shooting all manner of aliens and other folks in the face for roughly 15 hours till the game comes to its end There are upgrades that you can unlock which add some moves to your arsenal, but it’s not a skill tree like other games; these are static upgrades (4-5 of them) that once unlocked can be used as special moves during combat. What you see is what you get, as the game focuses on old-school linear design, and it’s very appreciated.

As you can probably tell, the combat gets boring rather quickly, so what keeps it interesting then? Decent enemy variety, gorgeous levels, and the ability to command other guardians to use special moves as you fight is what keeps things interesting. Groot, for instance, can hold enemies in place while Drax can stun them, and Gamora can deal massive damage all the while Rocket focuses on AOE attacks. This gives the game a pseudo-sense of strategy as you study the enemies and use the right move by the right ally when the time comes. There’s another thing/mechanic here which is called a “huddle” and adds more visual flair than anything else, but the way it works is as you fight enemies, your “huddle” bar will fill up. Once that happens, you can activate it, and the gang huddles around you, and it’s your job as their leader to give them a motivational speech of sorts that will increase their and your damage output. Fail in giving the right speech, and only you’ll get those benefits. It’s after a huddle when the game plays a random licensed track, with my favorite among them being “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. Yes, the game is trying to literally Rick-Roll you here. The “huddle” system is a novelty of sorts at best, doesn’t add much, and brings your combat encounter to a halt, but it’s fun just like everything else in the game and fits the attitude and vibe perfectly.

One more thing to note is that as you progress through the game, you’ll unlock elements for Star-Lord’s guns like Ice, Fire, Electricity, and Wind. Some enemies are weak to certain elements, so having these and matching them with their weaknesses can make encounters go by rather fast. These elemental effects also come in handy and help you unlock alternate/hidden passageways throughout levels and help you solve puzzles.

Speaking of which, each level has hidden collectables, lore, and outfits that you can find. The outfits are something I have to give massive Kudos to Eidos for, as they are varied enough and awesome, and I love that they are rewarded for playing the game and exploring the environment and not bought from a cash shop.

This pretty much sums up the gameplay loop of “Guardians Of The Galaxy”. You’ll go through levels and fight a bunch of enemies, all the while unraveling an interesting story and facing a few boss battles here and there. The game falls short in the combat as it gets extremely boring and repetitive rather quickly but makes up for it with lots of style, flair and overall good ol fun so I can’t complain a lot. 

The Characters/ Level Design

The reason we have this section is because of how well the game handles the characters and the environments, and this needs to get proper attention and respect; it deserves it. For starters, each character here is represented so well when compared to their comic counterpart. One thing you’ll immediately notice—and I loved this—is how they never stop talking. The Guardians are constantly bickering, chatting, and mocking each other, and their interactions are priceless. There’s not a single moment in the game that doesn’t feature someone talking, which makes me wonder how much dialogue they wrote and recorded for the game. The same can be said for the entirety of the supporting cast, as they are all handled so incredibly well and are true to the source material.

The levels, on the other hand, are awe-inspiring, and you’ll be stuck in place as you gaze upon these vistas and wonder, “How can someone be so creative and have the time to design and model all of this?” Each level is bathing with charm, personality and color. So many colors. Everywhere you look, your eyes will catch hold of something interesting and unique, and I must reiterate and say again: how creative and talented are these guys working at Eidos Montreal?

The visual splendor that this game offers is a testament towards how creativity and originality is not dead yet when it comes to modern AAA studios, and my god, it left me in awe.

The Technical Stuff

As mentioned, the game is gorgeous. Period. Everything on offer here is fantastic, and the game offers two visual modes on current-gen machines. One with raytracing which runs at 30fps and native 4K I think whereas the other drops the resolution to 1440p and gives us buttery smooth 60fps. Whether you want high visual fidelity or smooth performance, both of them are covered here. The voice acting and sound design are also very well done, with the characters sounding believable and everything else sounds as it looks. The game also features tons of licensed tracks that chime in from time to time, which fits the vibe so well. There are minor inconsistencies here and there, but overall, this game looks and runs incredibly well.

The Verdict

“Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy” is fantastic. Simple as that. There is so much heart and love in this game that it might as well be developed by an indie studio and not a major AAA publisher. The best part about this game, in my opinion, is how it doesn’t fall victim to modern gaming tropes and gives us a complete package, all on disc. No DLC, no microtransactions, no updates adding unnecessary features What you buy is what you get, and hey, not every game has to be an open-world, liver service MMORPG after all. The combat is the one place where the game sort of falls apart, but it’s their first attempt and after the disaster that was “Marvel’s Avengers.” I’d much rather prefer this. It’ll be interesting to see if this game gets a sequel as Square Enix sold off a bunch of studios and IP, including Eidos, and if we get a sequel, let’s see how they update it and what they add to it. “Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy” was a game that came out of nowhere and I am glad it did. Despite its shortcomings, it’s an incredible superhero game and one well worth investing your time in. With time, we’ll know what the future of superhero games holds for us, but as of now, my personal hall of fame of superhero games gained another inductee with “Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy.”

See more: ‘Hi-Fi Rush’ Review & Gameplay, Explained: What Makes ‘Hi-Fi Rush’ Worth Playing?

Kartik Sharma
Kartik Sharma
Kartik is sometimes a freelance content writer and an actor. He loves spending his time reading books, playing videogames, dabbling in music, exploring different cultures and languages, etc. loves everything that is art and loves to explore new horizons.