Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Richard Walker

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is little like Marvel’s Avengers—Crystal Dynamics’ online co-op action game—although it feels as if, in the run-up to release, it has been tarred with the same brush. The truth is that this is a resolutely single-player affair, which should perhaps comes as no surprise, given Eidos-Montréal’s propensity for crafting meticulously authored linear experiences, like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Thief, which allow plenty of room for player agency. With Guardians, Eidos-Montréal keeps things considerably more linear than those efforts, and the ride it sends you and protagonist Peter Quill on, is nothing short of utterly joyful. For the most part, anyway.


Jet-propelled punch, go!

The game opens in the 1980s, with you staring out from the eyes of a pre-pubescent Quill as he rocks out to original music, created specifically for the game, by fictional band 'Star-Lord', from whence he eventually derives the name of his superhero alter-ego, emblazoned on the back of his red leather jacket. The shock of seeing the blonde heavy-metal mullet resting on his shoulders and a black eye inflicted by bullies, as the camera zooms out into third-person, is a smart way to introduce the character and the tender relationship he shares with his mother. And Eidos-Montréal knows exactly when to take you back to Quill's childhood home for a brief flashback during the 15-20 hour narrative, deftly fleshing out the backstory of its central character.

Like the 2014 MCU movie and its sequel, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is an ensemble piece, with Peter Quill at its heart. As Star-Lord, you'll visit exotic planets and explore Nova space stations, battling strange alien creatures, including, but not limited to gelatinous cubes or roly-poly blobs covered in eyeballs. Taking place in the wake of a war against the Chitauri, Guardians throws you together with Gamora, the most deadly woman in the galaxy; Drax the destroyer, famed for slaughtering Thanos; Rocket, the tinkering technician who definitely isn't a raccoon; and his closest ally, Groot, a powerful living tree and the last of his kind.

Aboard the Milano, you can talk and interact with your fellow Guardians, certain trinkets found during missions unlocking further opportunities to engage in expository dialogue with each character. The interplay between the Guardians sparks with zinging dialogue that responds to almost every action you perform - and it elicits a grin, rather than a tired eye-roll. Go off-piste to explore, and you'll be yelled at for going the wrong way. Accidentally fire off your weapons and one of the team will have a dig at you for being careless.

When you're not exploring and engaging in a spot of jet-boot-powered platforming, you can blast enemies with Star-Lord's dual-wielded, shapeshifting laser guns until they overheat, while elemental projectiles, like ice, fire, wind, and electricity, unlock ways to better incapacitate enemies. A 'stagger bar', meanwhile, acts like Sekiro's posture meter, filling and rendering foes temporarily vulnerable in response to sustained fire, or a volley of frosty bullets. Freezing an enemy then smashing them to pieces with a leaping punch seldom grows old. Elemental projectiles also provide the means to solve various puzzles, locking mechanisms in place with ice, rerouting power using bursts of crackling energy, or pulling objects using sucking gusts of wind.


Bouncing between planets and systems, you'll visit recognisable locations, like Knowhere or a Nova Corps. Outpost facility, in a rip-roaring adventure that strikes exactly the right balance between adapting the comic books and remaining somewhat close to the MCU movies, without being in thrall to either source. There are nods to the wider Marvel universe to be found via various Easter eggs, while fans of the James Gunn-directed flicks can seek out unlockable outfits, so you can deck your Guardians out in duds faithful to the films. Decisions and their ensuing consequences also succeed in keeping things interesting, and, although none ultimately impact the overall course of the narrative, they add a little extra texture to the story.

During your journey, you'll also collect components, used by Rocket to craft helpful perks, while 'momentum,' which is built up during combat, is turned into ability points, which unlock new skills for the Guardians. These include support abilities, which you execute with a simple command in the midst of battle; Gamora can slice through foes, Drax will fill their stagger meter, Groot can hold enemies in place, and Rocket will happily toss an explosive into the mix. Over time, a 'Huddle' gauge can be topped off, too, enabling you to call the Guardians together for a pep talk and a temporary buff, soundtracked by one of thirty licensed '80s pop songs. Nothing quite beats letting loose to the upbeat sounds of Wham!, Pat Benetar, A-ha, Rainbow, or Rick Astley.

The quality of the minute-to-minute action, the cinematic cut-scenes, and the relationships between the five Guardians ensures that Eidos-Montréal's original take on the superhero team is punchy, funny, heartfelt, and, crucially, enormously good fun. There are a few technical issues, like the odd flickering texture, or the occasional, slightly bizarre progress-hampering bug – the latter easily remedied by a reload to the last checkpoint. Mercifully, though I encountered a handful of bugs, I never lost more than a few seconds of progress – they seem like minor flaws that will no doubt be ironed out with a patch.


You got this…

Beyond the bugs, Guardians of the Galaxy is, unfortunately, not without its frustrations – one particular moment during Chapter 10, involving a foggy cave, is shoddily designed, the solution for escaping its unending loop poorly communicated. Such scuffs do little to detract from what Eidos-Montréal has achieved here, however. The studio has set out to make a compelling narrative-driven single-player experience, and in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, it succeeds, with combat, exploration, and narrative beats that are never anything less than engaging. What's more, the developer has nailed the gang's fraught, tentative relationship, with all of the bickering, wisecracking, and banter you'd expect. Also, Cosmo the Spacedog. Nuff’ said.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

While it has one or two irksome flaws, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is, nonetheless, a fine solo experience, with characters that you'll enjoy spending time with, fast-paced combat, and an engaging original story.

Form widget
85%
Audio
80%

A fantastic '80s soundtrack and excellent voice performances across the board, Guardians of the Galaxy simply sounds great.

Visuals
85%

In Quality Mode, GotG looks lovely, but the frame rate can occasionally chug, even on new-gen consoles. Performance Mode is far better, still looking slick, locked to 60fps.

Playability
90%

Combat is fast, frenetic, and fun, while traversal, exploration, and platforming is tight and enjoyable. There's little, if anything, not to like here.

Delivery
80%

A well-paced story, marred only by occasional visual bugs or bothersome glitches that require a quick checkpoint reload. Nothing major.

Trophies
80%

A good, robust list with the perfect spread, covering story progression, collectibles, combat accomplishments, and more besides. Pretty much spot on.

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