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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Review

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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Fox on the Run... 

I love video games. I love gaming. There are moments where you can’t judge a book by its cover, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a prime example of why. A commercial campaign that seemed ambitious in selling its title, but was met with a mixed reception, but has done a splendid job in concealing its best moments. You know when you see a movie trailer and it gives away everything? Well, Square Enix has delivered the polar opposite. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has come rocking out the gate as one of the best titles of 2021, bar none. For a property that has an established hype-train steamrolling through Hollywood, due to the success of its star-studded cast and magnanimous delivery, there is the casual market that are unaware of its roots dating all the way back to 1969.

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The modernised Guardians surrounds a grouping of misfits that were established in the revamped comic series, first seen in 2008. An attempt in adaptation during the foreclosure of Telltale Games, with Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series using their notorious point-and-click formula. The title was met with criticism due to poor writing, lacking action and monotonous humour, as well as technical issues. While the latter may apply within this title in some variant, Eidos-Montreal have developed a quintessential cinematic experience that cannot be missed by gamers in general. A Marvellous – no pun intended – retelling of Peter’s origin story, and an original take on the Galaxy’s mightiest heroes. Its implied by the Deus Ex developers, that the aforementioned action title drew heavy inspiration for many sequences that take place, and don’t tend to hide it.

See You, Space Cowboy...

It takes a stroke of magnificence to translate art into interactivity, and that is exactly what Guardians of the Galaxy has always prided itself on as a property. An aesthetic aura that trumps its overarching premise, in which is just as imperative to its existence, as it is completely wondrous. Its campaign definitely tries to intertwine many elements of possibility, not forcing a completely fixed experience. While linear, subtleties are optional in either dialogue or outcome which weigh on your story’s approach. Portraying “Starlord” Peter Quill, the self-appointed leader of the Guardians finds himself awoken from a flashback of his teenage years. The projection see’s him on his 13th birthday, laying in his childhood home on Earth, jamming out to his favourite rock band “Starlord”.

I’ll avoid major spoilers or story-beats as the title and campaign itself is quite narrative driven. Peter’s mom enters his room and invites him to cut his birthday cake upstairs. Moments later, an adult Quill is alerted by Drax the Destroyer, that his team have arrived to the outlawed Quarantine Zone, where the band of misfits hope to earn needed Units – the Galaxy’s form of currency. Scavenging the broken the bonds of a corroding metropolis, the group are met with multiple hazards that make their journey a turbulent one. Split into two teams, Team Green and Team Rocket – that has to be a Pokémon reference for sure – Quill, Groot and Rocket take the surface while Gamora and Drax steer The Milano; Starlord’s ship named after “Who’s the Boss?” star and the character’s childhood crush, Alyssa Milano.

As the trio traverse across crumbling platforms, Groot is separated from Rocket and Quill, with the Flora lifeform taking an alternate route. Both Peter and Rocket are trapped into an enclosure where they fight over a loose gold jewel, in which Quill obtains. The translucent gemstone begins to burn Peter’s skin, which seemingly releases a foreboding creature that tries to attack them both from the exterior of the room. After making their way through the labyrinth like structure, Gamora, Groot and Drax reconvene with Quill and Rocket, so that the group may be able to complete their task and deliver a rare monster to Lady Hellbender in exchange for money. The group manages to capture the enigmatic force that seemed to evade them, only to find a specie that looked much like a llama. Knowing they could not deliver the animal to the patron, they are suddenly confronted with a mammoth beast known as an Acanti.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is an unexpected contender for Game of the Year. Most definitely an exciting addition to the 2021 line-up and one of the best action-adventure platformers I've had the pleasure of experiencing in quite some time.

The space whale boars towards the Guardians, only to be killed by the unknown alien creature Peter had let loose from the stone. The group retreats back to the Milano, where Peter commandeers the ship outwards of the quarantine zone. Unfortunately, the group are spotted by Nova Corps, with Centurian, and Quill’s ex-girlfriend Ko-Rel, captaining the troops. Arresting the Guardians on grounds of trespassing, Peter hopes to come to an agreement with Ko-Rel, that see’s the group walk free from Jail. Cadet Nikki Gold, escorts the handcuffed group towards the Captain’s quarters when an armoured rig suddenly explodes and throws Nikki over a guardrail. Starlord quickly leaps into action, jumping the rail in an attempt to save the youngster. The two then trek back towards the upper deck of the ship where Ko-Rel’s office happens to be.

After acquainting themselves with one another, it’s revealed that Nikki is the daughter of the captain, who supposedly had her after Quill and Ko-Rel had broken up. The pair are confronted by an angered captain who, beredes her daughter in front of Quill. Sending Nikki back to her room, Peter and Ko-Rel discuss the implication of the Guardians’ misdemeanour, fining them 8000 Units – translation? A lot of money – or they would be arrested and thrown back into jail. Left without any options, the Guardians plan to scam Lady Hellbender, and pay off their debt to Ko-Rel. The campaign’s narrative is exceptional, if anything an excellent example of how to adapt a snarky crew of oddities. The exposition in cutscenes are engrossing, sometimes hilarious to break the tension or tediousness. A continuous dialogue rolls between cinematics and gameplay which melds the experience into one giant presentation. The lack of awkward silence is welcoming.

I'm Mary Poppins, Y'all...

SOLID POINTS

✔️An astonishing feat; Absolutely gorgeous and engaging.

✔️Perfect Portrayal of the entire Guardians cast and cohorts.

✔️Third person platforming, action-adventure with light RPG mechanics.

❌Some hitches and bugs that can be ironed out.

❌Slight gameplay repetition can be cumbersome.

So, is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy an anomaly? Should it really be this good? The answer is an obvious and emphatic yes, but expectations were tempered heading into the title that’s for sure. I can’t say that it’s completely polished, as there are evident hitches in its gameplay that are somewhat jarring, but in everything else, the game runs smooth as silk. An optional presentation mode is afforded to players on PlayStation 5, allowing you to switch between Graphics or Performance mode in real time. Without a doubt, I can say that Guardians is easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing, and incredibly designed games of this year.

I was awestruck exploring an alien terrain that had been completely soaked by the planet’s stormy weather. The simple task of leaping from one raised platform to another can be mundane as it does become a repetitious task to deal with throughout the onset. The loop itself does essentially translate to Peter activating his Jet boots every time you need to cross a cavity or sinkhole. But there are moments where you’ll need to rely on your trusty teammates to make it across closed bridges or tall cliffsides. The only issue I found with this mechanism is how confusing it can be without pointers. Steering your camera towards a marking and holding L1, you can appoint the appropriate member towards a task that will help you progress to your next objective.

While you primarily control Peter in the duration of Guardians, in battle you can command your party to use signature attacks by again holding L1 and choosing a member. Quill will use his jet boots to hover over the attended area, while Drax and Gamora deal heavy ranged attacks using their blades of choice. Rocket uses grenades to blast the enemy while tagging Groot in to neatly wrap an opponent between naturally grown tree roots. Standard attacks from each member are dealt but your focus will be on Quill’s hand guns. Much like any title that utilises loaded artillery on the PS5, the Dualsense will recoil its triggers when using the laser weapon towards an enemy. In a lengthy episode between your crew and a swarm, you can build up towards a huddle that can be activated by pressing down on L1+R1. An ultimatum is given to the player with the correct outcome allowing you to go ham, endlessly activating the Guardians signature attacks without awaiting the allotted recharge.

Collectables that you will come across are imperative to upgrading and improving your offense. Skill tree upgrades are earned in points during battle, and can be appointed to each Guardian, while coming across work benches you can afford Rocket different trinkets that will unlock specific upgrades to a character’s arsenal. I can say with confidence that encounters carry a sensational charm about them that make you definitely feel immersed and part of the action. Peter’s fluid motion in dodging and dipping, while leap frogging or moonsaulting while your party deals out some major punishment is quite the dynamic demonstration. It’s not simply just running and gunning that makes for most of Guardians techniques, but a lot of perfect timing and placement.

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Scaling monolithic structures, and leaping across multiple conclaves, I began to notice some hitches in camera animation. It does throw me off that the Peter’s third person hard camera has a tendency to skip a beat when leaping in the air, but that can be easily patched. But I found myself also clipping through the floor in some areas, but nothing that imposed a soft-lock. It can be rough around the edges, but character animation, AI and level design are awesome. Facial animation during cinematics are astounding, some of the best in video games without question. The gameplay itself can become cumbersome near midway through the campaign, as it certainly cycles between, run, jump, slide down a slope, shoot, collect, upgrade and repeat. The interactions between the group make up for most of the title’s tedious antics.

Moments like Drax insisting he throws Rocket across a closed bridge gap, then to leave that choice up to you is fantastic. Yes, I chose to throw Rocket and the Raccoon was quite mouthy but made for one of the most hilarious moments of the entire game. But there multiple sequences that will put Peter at an impasse, in which could affect his journey and how his team interact with him. The role-playing mechanic is certainly an attraction to the campaign and delivers a quality of life aspect. It’s not as impacting as a Telltale story, but does pose replayability to witness multiple outcomes to certain scenarios. Of course, you can’t have Guardians of the Galaxy without commercially licensed hits that were massive in the 80’s. Booting the game to hear Europe’s “The Final Countdown”, to escaping a deteriorating quarantine zone to the Flock of Seagulls “I ran” was epic. 

Oh, and don’t choose the wrong option when in a huddle – Just… don’t ask. Again, I need to give a hand to the cast that portrayed the Guardians and the characters our heroes come across, and the most befuddling part is that the actors are not the usual suspects within the industry. Jon McLaren leads the way as Peter Quill, along with Kimberly-Sue Murray as Gamora. Jason Cavalier is so good as Drax, with Alex Weiner coming through with his interpretation of Rocket Raccoon and yes, it’s close to Bradley Cooper’s portrayal. Robert Montcalm has one line “I am Groot” and delivers it with great range, while my favourite of the lot, Mantis, and her eccentric personality is witty and charmingly displayed by Emmanuelle Lussier-Martinez.

In closing, I have to say that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is an unexpected contender for Game of the Year. Most definitely an exciting addition to the 2021 line-up and one of the best action-adventure platformers I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in quite some time. There aren’t many Marvel or DC properties that I’m a fan of, due to some lackluster gaming adaptations that bear questionable presentation, but Guardians of the Galaxy from Eidos-Montreal breaks the cycle and demonstrates that pre-existing IP’s, with a team capable of out classing itself is more than reliable in delivering an exemplary and engrossing tale within an established universe. I’m hopeful that this is the beginning of a great relationship between the developer and its publisher to bring more Marvel adaptations like this in the future. An essential, most definitely.

Guardians of the Galaxy - Square Enix

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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is an action-adventure video game developed by Eidos-Montréal and published by Square Enix’s European subsidiary. Based on Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series.

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