*Spoiler free review*
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is far from perfect, but there’s a reason it won best narrative at The Game Awards. It does an incredible job of making you feel like you’re pretty much a part of one giant Guardians of the Galaxy film, and that is basically what the game is; a very well-polished story with hilarious dialogue, that acts as a vessel for enjoying all your favourite characters.
The story itself is relatively compelling, but it is the dynamic between the main characters that really makes the game so entertaining. There are a lot of things to be critical of however, with the combat being the most mediocre part of the experience. So, with that said, let’s take a look at the drawbacks first to make sure that none of them are deal-breakers for any potential players out there.
A minor thing to get out the way first, is that of the Field of View. Even on PC the game has a locked FOV, which for some might be quite frustrating. Being a console player, I’m pretty used to games not having an FOV slider, but it is quite noticeable how zoomed in the perspective feels. If you’re someone that gets easily nauseous and really doesn’t like a forced field of view, then this might be something to consider.
The main downside of the gameplay itself is the combat. It’s not even that bad in its own individual right, but it only really acts as a filler to the cutscenes and the further you get through the game, the more repetitive it feels. The movement can often at times feel clunky and the increasing sense of repetition is exacerbated by the dialogue that comes from the characters during fights. I must have heard Gamora say the same cheesy line at least 100 times and it definitely contributed to the stale feeling that came with fights near the end of the game. I found myself trying to finish the combat sections as quickly as possible, which is either a testament to how good the narrative is, or how mundane the mechanics are.
Either way, the lack of skill and depth to the combat is definitely noticeable, especially with the way that aiming functions. You effectively get auto-aim for all your weapons, with the main drive of the mechanics being the strategy that comes from co-ordinating everyone’s abilities and their respective cooldowns. At first this is actually quite fun, but you soon get used to which combinations work best and things become tedious pretty quickly.
In spite of that, the combat is entertaining enough to keep you going and makes you feel like you’ve earned the cutscenes and narrative choice segments. There’s also a lot of merit to be found in the style and aesthetic that comes along with the team fights and it should be noted that any issues with the combat are ultimately not a massive cause for concern with the type of game that it is. You don’t play this game for the combat, it’s not the focus of the gameplay and you should not go into the experience expecting it to be so.
A final criticism to mention is that of interrupted dialogue. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but it got quite jarring after a while when I would be interested in something that a character was saying, just to have them cut off abruptly without any form of transition or delay. In a lot of games this would be a non-issue, but when the whole format of the game is based around dialogue it is definitely something simple that could have been improved.
One of the redeeming things about the combat mechanics, is how stylised it all is. While you’re fighting you really do feel like you’re Star-lord, flying around during a scene from one of the films. The abilities are satisfying to use in quick succession which is helped along by the flashy comic book style scoring system. There isn’t really any other way to say it besides you just feel awesome. This works in tandem with the huddle up mechanic, which is just the right amount of corny to make it funny rather than cringe. All of this together really does make the combat segments feel like they fit in well with the narrative structure, even if the shooting mechanics get a bit tedious and repetitive at times.
The quick time events integrate seamlessly with the cinematic segments, and one of the best things about the whole experience is that it is all in engine. Whenever you go from combat to cutscenes, to branching narrative choices, the transition visually is made a lot smoother by the fact that it is all sequenced in engine. The cinematics and camera angles are to the standard of a well-polished Hollywood film and things like the facial animations are of an incredibly high quality.
In classic Guardians of the Galaxy fashion, the soundtrack is of course absolutely phenomenal. It brings the whole game together and fits the jovial thematic style perfectly. The story itself is also fairly engaging, with a solid villain and a coherent goal throughout. Drax’s storyline in particular demonstrated some incredible writing, finding that perfect mix between comedy and authentic emotion. It should also be noted that this authenticity is in part due to how good the voice actors are. I was hesitant at first, as to whether or not I would be put off by how the character looked and sounded, but the essences of their personalities are exactly the same, if not better than they are in the films and comics.
This brings me to what really makes this game so entertaining, the dynamic between the cast. The whole game would be nothing without the constant banter and back and forth between the guardians. It truly does make the game what it is. The dialogue, timing and delivery of the lines are top tier in every regard, and I genuinely found myself laughing the entire time.
|Written recommendation||Gameplay types|
|If you are a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, then I would highly recommend playing this game. It has all the same humour and brings an interactive element to the universe you know. The combat is mediocre, but this is easily overshadowed by the quality of the narrative.||-Casual
Summary and final words
The game is effectively one giant interactive film, with branching narratives based on the decisions you make and an upgradable combat system that is fairly tolerable. Like I mentioned earlier however, you do not play this game for the combat mechanics. You should go into the experience with the intention of watching all of your favourite Guardians of the Galaxy characters embark on a fun adventure, supported by an amazing soundtrack, brilliant writing and some truly awe-inspiring environments.
Pearce is a recent masters graduate with a passion for games. He thinks they can be seen as a form of art, conveying stories and narratives that can have an immense impact on players. Outside of game design, he has an interest in Twitch, music and animals.