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Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Review [PS5] | A Star-Lord Is Born

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After Square Enix announced its latest Marvel game at E3 2021 in June, Guardians of Galaxy had a level of anticipation weighing on its shoulders. There is great hope that the game will reach fans who enjoy the Marvel movies while selling a new take on these characters. On the other hand, there is the pressure to appeal to those who have never engaged in media involving Peter Quill and his gang of thugs.

As a third-person single-player adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy has many similarities to previous games. However, these familiar ingredients combined with the cast of iconic characters in the game, along with the gameplay tweaks that go with them, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy manages to be a truly unique experience – an experience that is surprisingly as deep as it is fun to play.

The Guardians of the Galaxy game review cast
Credit: Square Enix

What’s the premise?

When the going gets tough, five misfits follow a chain of events that brings the fate of the galaxy itself into play. While needing to grow both individually and as a team in order to save the day. If you know a bit about the characters from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy property, you know what to expect here.

Players who have only seen the Guardians in the MCU movies will immediately feel right at home with the same cast of characters. Simultaneously, there’s something new on offer with an alternate story that is more comic-book-like than the team’s cinematic counterparts. Peter Quill is remarkable from the start with an entirely different parenting heritage, a completely different appearance than Chris Pratt, and a more seasoned but still carefree character.

Comparatively, Rocket still has a jaded temper and an unfiltered sense of humor. Drax remains a muscular head who does not understand metaphors. Gamora has the same sharp but guarded mind. Groot is still a talking tree that can only say, well, “I’m Groot”.

guardians of the galaxy game review characters
Credit: Square Enix

Should I be a fan of the movies?

Yet even the less educated newcomer who has never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy won’t be lost for long. In the opening minutes on the Milano, the base of Peter Quill and co’s spaceship, the personalities and dynamics between each limb quickly show through – with pleasant drops of exposure that educate you on the rhythms of the story needed. Otherwise, the in-game menu features the Galactic Compendium, giving you everything you need to know about the characters, factions, planets, and the stories that accompany them.

guardians of the galaxy review decision-making
Credit: Square Enix

Throughout 16 chapters of one to two hours, Guardians of the Galaxy is a roller coaster of sci-fi action, humor and drama. What starts off as a laid-back monster hunt gradually becomes more and more wacky, taking them to various unique planets and environments, all featuring a fantastic selection of intriguing alien races and a charismatic selection of characters; with narrative twists that will even surprise some fans of the franchise.

A welcome surprise at the announcement of the game was the decision-making mechanism. Following its preview demo, dialogue options and teammate interactions resulted in RPG titles like Mass Effect that were released in critical comparisons. Now, with the full version of the game, another awesome discovery was that not only can you possibly engage with your team between missions to learn more about them, but certain choices can completely change the course of subsequent chapters.

An example is a particularly important choice made in the early hours of the game. In this case, choose Groot or Rocket to sell to a monster collector. The cutscenes play out differently, of course, but the next mission then becomes either a fortress scale battle with blazing guns or a stealth heist mission. Not all choices carry the same weight, but there are others that can completely affect a character’s fate. These possibilities add a soft layer of pressure to every decision. Another indisputable benefit is the instant replay value.

Guardians of the Galaxy game review lady hellbender
Credit: Square Enix

Sweet and gentle character development

No matter where the journey takes them, it’s the relationships between this adorable group of misfits that keep the adventure going.

As in other media, each Guardian is a flawed individual with a checkered past and scars to bear. Literally as well as figuratively. Movies and comics have generally done a good job of fleshing out these issues. But it wasn’t until he was in the wide range of an action-adventure video game that every passenger of Milan’s character development had time to breathe properly. Let even small, optional but meaningful conversations fuel the main story’s relationship with that character.

guardians of the galaxy aliens game review
Credit: Square Enix

Although they are covered in humor and other vices as a means of escape, their problems naturally and regularly come to the surface. Rocket’s trauma at the hands of experiences, Drax’s twisted grief, Gamora’s depression. Even Peter succumbing to the pressures of being a leader. Each has their own arc which combines beautifully as part of the main story. Part of an out of this world tale, these space heroes are metaphorically dragged to earth. The personalities clash. The tension felt across particular levels is palpable, fueled by a gripping sense of drama. And yet, the tale still manages to effortlessly cross that fine line between intensity and comedy. Never do the next steps in a chapter with one item over the other.

Every detail of character development is a pleasure to watch – seeing your efforts to reach out to each of your friends pay off. Then it’s how they are integrated with the Guardians to become a full team as a whole, which is all the more heartwarming. Some of the levels you go through with your team might feel a bit too long. Nonetheless, it’s thanks to the Guardian’s constantly evolving jokes and connections that keep the adventure continually refreshing.

Guardians of the Galaxy hand-to-hand combat game review
Credit: Square Enix

How is the gameplay?

This Guardians of the Galaxy story could make a compelling comic book or series on its own. Its multifaceted gameplay is therefore a much more important bonus. Each level of Guardians of includes a mix of exploration, combat and puzzle solving. Of course, there are the ribs between you and your fellow guardians who keep you entertained along the way. One tool you’ll be using a lot is the switch to Quill highlighting the next way forward, collectibles, and crafting components. Displayed in the manner of Detective Batman Arkham-verse mode, you are enticed to explore each area as much as possible.

Another is a control system that players of other series, like Mass Effect and Final Fantasy, will be able to grasp very easily. Each Guardian has their own strengths and skills, the latter of which you unlock more with skill points and crafting components. It’s up to you to determine how and where to use your teammates most effectively, which makes successful combos seem like a triumph.

guardians of the galaxy squad game review mode
Credit: Square Enix

What kind of skills?

For example, Groot is great for crowd control – allowing you to immobilize multiple enemies at once, to strike simultaneously with one of Rocket’s long-range grenades. Alternatively, Gamora is ideal for high damage singular attacks. Meanwhile, Drax deals massive damage, leaving baddies more vulnerable to follow-up attacks. Star-Lord himself has his own abilities, including jet boots and elemental pistols – the latter of which are essential in hitting certain enemies with their weakness in order to stun them more easily.

The gameplay similarities of Guardians of the Galaxy to other games are obvious. Even the animation when picking up crafting components is identical to that of 2018’s God of War. Surprisingly, this all actually works in this game’s favor. Instead of needing time to learn new mechanics from base, you learn to make the most of each guardian’s attacks. As a result, you can perform the best and deadliest combos much faster.

Each AI companion can fight on their own – in a way that suits their personality. They simply won’t be anywhere near this useful without your order. In a full and often chaotic battle, face your enemies yourself while dodging damage, also knowing which companion attack to use, where and when – that’s a lot to take. Like the Guardians themselves as a team, you trip over and take a few hits. Sooner or later as you become more in tune with Peter and his comrades, muscle memory kicks in, making you feel like a powerhouse and each encounter more explosive.

Guardians of the Galaxy game review caucus
Credit: Square Enix

Huddle!

The icing on the cake is the unique caucus mechanism. This is a featured command that gives you the opportunity for a team-wide pep talk and power-up. In it, the other Guardians give you their thoughts on the battle so far. Then you choose the correct answer to either psychedelize them or rule over their overconfidence. Pick the correct answer and the whole team deals greater damage with shorter cooldowns. Making it better is all to the sound of a deliciously audible selection of the game’s soundtrack from the ’80s. I will never tire of blasting monsters in their faces, ordering Drax to throw a giant stone at them. someone’s face, to the melody of “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. Iconic.

Guardians of the Galaxy review the group's successful power-up
Credit: Square Enix

Speaking of melodies …

Music, especially 70s-80s pop and rock, was a big part of the Guardians brand. This game’s take on heroes is no different. This is thanks to a large and varied selection of songs in its soundtrack. KISS, Iron Maiden, Hot Chocolate, Gary Newman, Bonnie Tyler and many more; as well as successful caucuses, can be played after successful caucuses or at any time on the Milano. It’s a shame that these can’t be played all the time. All the same, having such a diverse soundtrack for downtime and key moments in combat is always a delight.

To have such a large amount of licensed music playing at certain times is nice. Of course, however, it’s a content creator’s nightmare for copyright claims. So the streaming mode of the audio setting is a fantastic addition. This mode disables all licensed music, leaving only the selection of the game’s own tracks. A handful by the game’s fictional band and namesake of Peter, Star-Lord. On the flip side, the lack of more substitute stock music left a few empty moments in the game. In a particular spaceship chase during one of the first acts, one of the rock tracks. licensed has been replaced by a simple silence. Without a copyright-friendly replacement, it made the footage much duller.

Guardians of the Galaxy game review graphics
Credit: Square Enix

Appearance and performance on PS5

Despite playing without the next patch which includes ray tracing for current gen consoles, Guardians is still visually impressive. Its well-crafted styling from character models and the plethora of environments they venture into is even better at 4K 60FPS. It might not be the most graphically stunning title on the market. Nonetheless, the details of each level truly immerse you in a futuristic galaxy marked by war. It is bursting with life and futuristic technology, but also worn and rustic.

The post-release patch will include more detailed haptic feedback for the DualSense. At the time of this review, however, Guardians of the Galaxy’s DualSense integration still felt good while playing. Built into Star-Lord’s abilities like trigger resistance on quick reload, the haptic feedback so far makes Guardian combat all the more satisfying.

Where the game unfortunately falters is with the large number of technical bugs encountered throughout the game. The strange glitchy alien corpse could be forgiven. Unfortunately, there are many cases of unstable animation transitions, frame rate drops, and freezing. The latter needing me to reload until the last checkpoint. All of them interfere with the immersive experience a lot more times than one would like. Although the recent Day One patch was installed, I still encountered Gamora doing glitchy star hopping in front of me while trying to take down an enemy. In the grand scheme of things, there is nothing that the next patch (and maybe the next one) can’t fix. It also does not hinder the overall vision of Eidos-Montreal. However, it looks like the Guardians of the Galaxy could have used an extra week or two in the oven.

Credit: Square Enix

Final thoughts

Once the credits roll and return to the main menu, you might feel an immediate draw to get back to the start of Guardians of the Galaxy on New Game Plus. This is understandable. That’s because the story of Star-Lord and his dysfunctional family of former criminals hits hard in a number of ways. Dealing with various forms of grieving, shaking the consequences of our actions, and facing the unknown with impossible odds.

Beautifully, Eidos-Montreal also caught the light at the end of these dark tunnels. Support from your friends, laughs, music, adventure and life. It’s about making the most of what you have left with who you have left; and most importantly, kick ass together.

There are a few common but minor performance issues aside. Either way, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most enjoyable games you’ll be playing all year round. You may never have been in any of the comics or movies. Still, there is something about this epic space adventure for everyone. You can wait until the last of the technical folds are ironed out, but none ruin the base experience. If you’re looking for a game that is bursting with heart in both story and gameplay, this is the one for you.

A PS5 copy of the game has been provided by PR for review.



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