Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is just as good as the movies
A love letter to the comics and all things 80s that easily stands alongside the movies
A few weeks back, we were fortunate enough to get our hands on a three-hour preview of Eidos-Montréal and Square Enix's first Guardians of the Galaxy game, where we were excited by the prospect of a title that learned from some of the mistakes that held the publisher's take on the Avengers back and promised one of the best video game soundtracks we'd ever hear.
With the game finally set for release tomorrow (October 26), we can confirm that the developers have lived up to that expectation. We can only hope there is a sequel to this first entry in the series, as this is an undeniably fun experience from start to finish, full of personality, a deeper exploration of the comics, 80s nostalgia and a compelling story that stands alongside what we've seen from the films.
So, without further ado - here is our Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy review.
We're starting with the story because that's what this game does best. It was always going to be difficult emerging from the shadow of the movies given how much everyone quickly grew to love this IP, but Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy genuinely delivers one of the best superhero narratives I've played in many years - alongside Sony's Spider-Man games.
I had reservations going in knowing you only play as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord but they were quickly quelled when the narrative and quality of the performances kicked in. Once again, following the films was some obstacle but the voice acting is brilliant - Drax and my new favourite character Cosmo being the crowning performances throughout - but above all else, it's just funny.
The story is one of the gang still trying to find their feet as a team and having to overcome various differences. I don't want to spoil too much about any of the other characters you come across (I want to keep any fanboying/fangirling intact) but the compelling caper is driven by them. I'll even declare that I actually preferred this story to the one in Vol. 2. Big words, I know.
Onto gameplay. This first outing delivers a satisfying albeit simplistic set of gameplay mechanics that serve for fun, fast-paced action that fills the screen. There are some basic environmental puzzles that don't require much skill and while Star-Lord's arsenal can feel a bit limited at times - even with all his perks and abilities at your disposal - it's using the party system that makes combat fun.
As with the story, your teammates are what lift the core gameplay: double-teaming opponents and managing their presence on the battlefield is where the most concentration is needed and - most importantly of all - it's enjoyable. The 'Huddle' feature is absolutely excellent and while there is repetition in every game, this never got old. There's nothing like kicking ass to Mötley Crüe.
As for the dialogue tree and decision system, though it isn't a fleshed out and punishing as I'd hoped, it still led to clear branches such as being able to avoid some skirmishes entirely. Lastly, there are, of course, bugs; they happen in every game: little things like a prompt not disappearing after a button press. They're annoying but no way near enough to detract from your enjoyment.
First off, it must be said: this game looks much better and crisper than first thought. Having played the preview remotely, it was difficult to get a grasp of just how good it would look but on PS5 at least, character models looked surprisingly realistic, the colour palette beyond vivid and the whole thing was downright gorgeous at times – all that was without ray-tracing live, no less.
The cosmic nature of the IP's universe meant that a lot of fun could be had with the scenery, creatures and overall art style. I was not a fan of the weird jelly cubes and bouncing eyeball enemies primarily found in the tutorial - it felt like someone dropped PEGI 3 mobile game assets into the mix - but you quickly get over it when you realise pretty much anything goes in the space.
Last but not least, no take on Guardians of the Galaxy is complete without looking at the soundtrack and in this case the selection is just as good - if not better - than what we've heard in the movies themselves. Square Enix serve up an all-80's showstopper, featuring everyone from Wham! and Rick Astley, to Def Leppard, Culture Club and more. You love to see (or hear) it.
Before the game even properly kicks in - the whole damn thing awash with 80s pop culture references as it is - I spent a good 15 minutes just listening to banger after banger as I made myself a brew. The music is the first thing you are greeted with on the menu screen; it comes in during cutscenes and scores certain sections of gameplay perfectly.
In our preview, we said that the soundtrack absolutely makes this game and while having played it means we know there's plenty more substance to it, it still captures the whole spirit of the franchise. They even made their own original songs as the fictional band 'Star-Lord'. True world-building. It makes you feel like the team behind this genuinely know and love the source material.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy steps out of the shadow of the movies and delivers a blockbuster story that firmly holds its own when compared to the films we've come to know and love. While the pressure from that audience is there, it doesn't show - they focus on paying homage to the comics, a slick 1980s style and, best of all, doing their own thing. It's different and better for it.
While the gameplay might not reinvent the wheel, it relies on tried and true mechanics that you can't go far wrong with, dishing out plenty of action and looking good whilst doing it - especially when ripping guitars and synth keyboards play in the background. This is a fast, fun and heartfelt foray into the franchise that we're sure won't be the last.
If you're impatient and counting the days until Vol. 3 is out, this is just the thing to tide you over.
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