GotG game review: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a superb space opera
Star-Lord and pals embark on their barmiest adventure yet in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy game.
Square Enix's Eidos Montreal team has delivered a soaringly successful space opera with Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, a GotG game that does justice to that infamous 'bunch of A-holes' that has already taken cinema screens and comic books by storm.
Launching tomorrow on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and Nintendo Switch (with the Switch version being a Cloud-only affair), Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy packs in plenty of humour, heart and handsome visuals throughout its 16 story chapters, and it's enough to make you fall in love with this franchise all over again.
The game is set in an all-new continuity - it does not connect to the films or the comics on a story level, but there are plenty of Easter eggs peppered throughout, especially in the form of costumes (there are additional outfits hidden around each area, and some of them are ripped straight out of other media).
- Pre-order Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (£59.99 from Amazon)
The GotG game's story kicks off with the Guardians team already assembled, although they aren't exactly best buds yet. Drax hasn't forgiven Gamora for being part of Thanos' family, Rocket and Groot aren't quite trusting anybody, and Peter Quill hasn't found his footing as a leader just yet. The galaxy itself is still reeling from a relatively recent galactic war, too, which means tensions are high and there are wrecked ships everywhere. It's an exciting place to jump into.
As you'd expect, luck isn't really on the Guardians' side here - the game opens with a monster-hunting mission that goes wrong, leaving our spacefaring heroes between a rock and a hard place (or 'in the place between hard rocks', as Drax puts it). And when they try to con a monster-wrangler in the hopes of making a quick buck to pay off a fine with, they only make matters worse. One thing leads to another and it's not long before a universe-threatening menace is on the rise.
We soon got used to the fact that you can only play as Star-Lord, a game design choice that many of us questioned at first. The game is experienced from Peter Quill's perspective, tied to his personal history, and it makes sense that he is the main character. That being said, each other Guardian gets their little side stories that you can explore through conversations with them.
We should've trusted that the team from Eidos Montreal know how to craft a compelling single-player story - just as they did with their Tomb Raider trilogy and the Avengers game's main campaign, here the writers from Eidos weave together a story that ticks along at pace and really ramps up the emotions towards the end. (OK, yes, I cried in the penultimate chapter!)
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It's worth stressing that, in a similar fashion to what you'd expect from the Mass Effect franchise or even Star Wars: Republic Commando, Star-Lord is able to give commands to his fellow Guardians during combat and exploratory sequences - Groot can build bridges (literally), Rocket can crawl into nooks and crannies, Gamora can help you climb up high structures, and Drax can smash through lots of surfaces.
Teaming up with your fellow Guardians to unlock areas is a fun way to explore each world, with every planet you visit having a handful of secret areas. It's sort of like a light version of the exploration you'd do in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order or God of War, with each new ability you gain allowing you to access more hidden treats. You might find a bit of lore, or a new costume, or just some resources for crafting upgrades at Rocket's workbench.
And in the consistently enjoyable combat, each Guardian brings their own unique skills to the fore. Groot can tie enemies in place, Gamora wields her blades with unrivalled intensity, Rocket has an unlimited supply of explosives, and Drax's ferocity can help stagger your foes for some handy crowd control. Meanwhile, Star-Lord can perform a mix of ranged and melee attacks as well as whizzing around with his jet boots.
As the game progresses, every aspect of the design unfolds impressively in front of you - there are stunning new worlds to discover, memorable new characters to meet, loads of eye-catching costumes to collect, satisfying new attacks to learn and lots of lore to piece together as the story takes shape. It's a sweeping, cinematic space opera in video game form.
One thing that's particularly great about the Guardians of the Galaxy game is that it can do things that might not work in a film. The game goes to some truly bizarre, unexpected places and it's hard to imagine how some of them could possibly be realised in a live-action MCU entry. We're dancing around spoilers here, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you see how the third act finale comes together.
In terms of negatives, there really aren't that many, and none of them are dealbreakers. The wisecracking comedy dialogue doesn't always hit its mark, but the cast members are all likeable in their roles. You'll soon get over the fact that Star-Lord isn't played by Chris Pratt, and you might even end up preferring the video game versions of certain characters over their movie counterparts.
The story is so linear that you might find yourself wishing for more in the way of alternate endings and branching paths, but you do get to make a few choices that pay off later on. The game might also feel quite difficult to start with for some players, as wrangling the Guardians through waves of enemies isn't always easy, but there is a really impressive array of difficulty options that you can alter at any time.
Overall, this is a very admirable effort from Eidos Montreal. The Guardians of the Galaxy game is a joy throughout, and it's great to see a new take on these characters while they're absent from the big screen. It feels familiar and fresh at the same time, and fans of the franchise will probably love it. If you had any doubts that Marvel characters could make for great gaming experiences - after the Avengers game, perhaps - this thrill ride should quell them. Oh, and the soundtrack is superb too.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy launches 26th October for PlayStation, Xbox, PC and Switch and you can pre-order your copy now. We reviewed on Xbox Series X.
Read more on the Guardians of the Galaxy game:
- How long is the Guardians of the Galaxy game?
- Guardians of the Galaxy game outfits - full list of skins/costumes
- Why you can only play as Star-Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy game
- Guardians of the Galaxy game multiplayer - why there's no online co-op
- Guardians of the Galaxy game PC requirements & settings
- Guardians of the galaxy game soundtrack
- Guardians of the Galaxy game trophy list
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