Guardians of the Galaxy game assembles its team better than the Avengers did
In just three hours of our hands-on preview, the Guardians game felt more about leading a team of heroes than Avengers did
In just three hours of varied gameplay, we got a great insight into what lessons they've learned from 2020's Avengers and how the GotG game could be the first big Marvel success outside of Insomniac's Spider-Man franchise.
The next thing that strikes as you launch into the first 10-15 minutes of the game is the visuals: vivid and varied as you'd hope from what is essentially galactic caper. The Guardians colour palette demands to be near garish and the devs deliver. They're not the best we've seen in terms of fidelity, but that isn't exactly a deal breaker here and it still looks slick running on next-gen hardware.
Admittedly, it takes a minute to get used to the character aesthetics (as it did with Avengers). Rocket looks like a racoon and Groot looks like a tree, but other designs aren't so different you don't quickly get used to not seeing the stars from the film. The same goes for the performances - hard as it may be to accept. Eidos-Montréal has done their own take - good on 'em.
It looks crisper and brighter than SE's previous Marvel title (next-gen hardware likely a factor), so you'll still get plenty of lovely 4k detail throughout cutscenes and gameplay. And most importantly, from what we've seen so far, it does a good job of interpreting the heavily cosmic nature of this particular part of the Marvel universe.
Now, on to the bread and butter stuff. Naturally, you play as Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord - at least in the limited build we got to play - and on a surface level, gameplay revolves around simple but satisfying beat 'em up style, mixed with grab and go gunplay.
While the blaster is a key component of Quill's combat, the most satisfying option comes by combining your hits with other skills and craftable resources such as freezing enemies with your Element Gun and then drop-kicking them. Th
It may not be as finessed as, say, Batman: Arkham's hand-to-hand or as pure run and gun as other third-person action-adventure shooters, but unlocking new abilities and upgrades will no doubt help add variation and remedy that. However, it's when using teamwork and enlisting the other Guardians that things get really fun.
You can rope in any one of Rocket, Groot, Gamora or Drax to not only perform special attacks but interact with the environment in combat; the same goes for some of the decent low-level puzzle stuff we got a taste of. Certain Guardians are suitable for specific tasks and we expect managing your own skills and that of your team will be key throughout.
Banger after banger
Aside from the unmistakable personality, it's the soundtrack that absolutely makes this game: making it feel instantly recognisable and familiar; moreover, 'The Huddle' game mechanic, which is deeply wrapped up in the music of the game, is utterly brilliant, hilarious and rewarding - Inverse have already suggested that Madden should take it on board too.
The soundtrack itself is exclusively an all 80s romp of some of the most iconic pop, rock and electronic tunes of all time - we probably spent just as much energy singing along and air-guitaring as we did playing. The team behind Guardians have even produced Star-Lord's band's debut single and totally nailed the album artwork. "Dance off, bro".
— Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (@GOTGTheGame) September 9, 2021
Guarded by the right studio and just the right genre
One of the key things that sets the Guardians of the Galaxy game apart from SE's first Marvel outing is that a different studio's fingerprints can be noticed straight away. As opposed to Crystal Dynamics taking on this one too, Eidos-Montréal are at the helm this time around, best known for the Tomb Raider games and the Deus Ex series.
While they may not be the deepest RPG out there, you can sense the genre's influence at every turn with plenty of room to experiment in gameplay, such as using a party system to manage the team and their bespoke perk finishers and cooldowns, a la Mass Effect, The Outer Worlds and even the newer Assassin's Creeds.
You are encouraged to build parts of the narrative yourself by opting for different dialogue options and embrace the choose-your-own adventure elements of Telltale's iteration of the series. All of which seems to fit well with the IP, narrative, and gameplay dynamics.
Step in the right direction
While the Avengers may have faced criticism for how much content there was on launch for one closer to the 'games as a service' model, you could not fault it for telling a genuinely compelling Marvel story from an important and different angle than expected.
All that being said, we're getting good vibes from the Guardians of the Galaxy game too, so far, and we can only hope that the team at Eidos and Square Enix deliver the same narrative experience fitting of a place in the expanded Marvel universe. It's due for release on October 26th 2021.
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