Release Date : October 26, 2021
Developers : Eidos-Montréal
Publisher : Square Enix
Platforms : PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch
Last September, Square Enix invited us to take Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy in hand. We came out of this game session with mixed feelings of amusement and concern. The sympathy generated by the Guardians was indeed counterbalanced by a gameplay that was not particularly engaging. Now it’s time to discover the full version of the game. It seems that in this game, the qualities allow closing the eyes on the defects.
The inconvenience of writing a preview a few weeks before the release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was the risk of having to repeat itself in the test. And this risk turned into reality. Indeed, nothing we said last month was contradicted by the discovery of the full game. That being said, the game has logically answered our questions and reassured some of our fears.
As we told you then, the preview version plunged us directly into chapter 5 of the game. And it only allowed us to discover this chapter. If it gave an idea of the atmosphere of the game, this passage did not allow us to really understand what Eidos Montreal proposes here. At the beginning of the adventure, the player joins an already formed Guardians of the Galaxy team. However, they haven’t been working together for very long. The trust between the members is not yet completed and disputes are very frequent.
Things begin in a usual way with penniless Guardians, looking for lucrative missions. Unlucky for them, they quickly get into trouble with the Nova Corps, a kind of galactic police force. Forced to pay a heavy fine, Star-Lord and his company come up with a risky plan to collect the money.
Unfortunately for them, the money problems are the least of their worries. A dangerous cult will threaten the entire galaxy and the Guardians will have to find a way to save it. Behind the space, drama is also a touching story about family and grief that may well move more than one player.
Plenty of punchlines
Reading these first paragraphs, the lack of references to humor may come as a surprise. But the Guardians of the Galaxy fans can rest assured. The game is really funny and the atmosphere that one can expect in their adventures is perfectly respected. The hilarious quotes are all over the place and yours truly even found himself laughing out loud a few times. Which doesn’t happen often in video games.
In our preview last month, we mentioned the balancing act the developers performed to make the game look like the Guardians of the Galaxy movies while offering something new. If this remark concerned the in-game appearance of the heroes, it also applies to the narrative. The initial line-up alone shows that Eidos Montreal wanted to bring the Guardians to the center of attention. But the studio didn’t stop there. And they did it well.
If some elements are clearly inspired by the movies, the Guardians’ mythology is rewritten here. And readers of the comics should also be surprised by some of the choices made by the writers. Without going into detail to leave the pleasure of discovery to the players, some characters are not necessarily where you expect them to be.
Moreover, the individual stories of the characters have been rewritten for the occasion. And the pleasure of discovery is real here. In addition to the “mandatory” dialogues heard during the adventure, optional dialogues obtained under certain conditions are also present. These are smart enough to allow players to learn more about the Guardians while the heroes get to know each other better.
In addition to all this, Eidos Montreal has integrated a choice system into Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The player has to choose what Peter Quill should say on numerous occasions. And he also has to take a stand when there is a disagreement between the members of his team. This has an impact on the relationships he has with the different protagonists.
And it also affects the course of events. For example, if Star-Lord manages to establish a good relationship with certain NPCs, his task will be simplified later in the adventure. These choices have no real impact on the outcome of the adventure. They do, however, influence how you get there. It is quite possible that two players who finish the title did not see the same sequences before getting there.
We are Groot
Another nice detail related to the narrative is the discreet evolution of the relationship between Star-Lord and the other Guardians. The more their journey progresses, the more trust is built within the team. In the end, the Guardians don’t even have to be asked to do certain things, they do it on their own. Groot’s powers give him the ability to create wooden walkways, for example. If he has to be asked to do it initially, he’ll do it himself as the end of the game approaches. And this applies to all heroes. Ideas like this help to make the game both lively and natural.
It is impossible to talk about the game’s story and narrative without mentioning its audio production. Eidos Montreal has done a titanic job here. Indeed, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy contains a more than considerable amount of dialogue. It’s very simple, the heroes of the game don’t stop talking throughout the adventure. And that’s not a criticism at all. In order to make the exchanges as natural as possible, an impressive number of lines have been recorded. Even for situations that usually don’t have dialogues in games.
That’s 80s game
For example, when the player decides to leave the path that moves the plot forward, members of the Guardians will ask Star-Lord why he is going in another direction. For example, if Star-Lord starts shooting for nothing, Gamora will ask him if he saw something. The latter will then answer her something like “no, I’m just trying to stay ready.” This may seem like a detail, but it really adds to the authenticity of the whole thing.
It’s also impossible to talk about the game’s audio achievement without mentioning its soundtrack. The developers were obviously inspired by the soundtracks of the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies. And they went even further. Indeed, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy includes a big playlist of hits from the 80s (along with tracks written especially for the game). And the least we can say is that these songs are varied. Pop, Metal, New Wave can be heard here. Even the Boys Band are represented…
A blessing for the voice talents
These songs can be listened to at leisure during the sequences in the Milano. At first glance, it may be possible to think that all these songs were included to make it “like in the movies.” However, it appears at various times that choices are cleverly tied to the narrative. For anyone who appreciates the commercial music of the 80s, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is clearly a pleasure.
When it comes down to it, the only complaint that can be made about Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’s storytelling and sound direction is in the gatherings. When a special gauge is filled, Star-Lord can rally his team during battle to motivate them. The hero must listen to his teammates’ impressions and respond in a way that motivates them. If he succeeds, everyone returns to battle with temporarily boosted stats.
The problem is that the choice of lines offered here is never very clear. And yours truly has mostly missed his speeches throughout the adventure. That’s why only Peter Quill came back to the battle boosted. This does not have a negative impact on the impression left by the game. But since the return to battle is accompanied by the release of one of the songs of the soundtrack, the potentially epic side of the situation is not exploited as it could be.
Marvel’s Guardians of the PS3
If the narration and the audio direction of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy made a strong impression on us, the same cannot be said about the rest. Visually, the game does well on PS5. The environments are varied and the characters are well designed. Moreover, a successful work has been done on the colors and lighting of the scenery. The game transports to different planets well known to Guardians of the Galaxy fans and it is a pleasure to discover them.
On the other hand, it is obvious that the game is a title released on both the new and old generation consoles. The game never really impresses with its graphics. However, when running on PS5, the game has the advantage of being clean and smooth.
As for action, the majority of the game lies in the fights. Contrary to what we feared from the preview, the bestiary proposed here is varied. Depending on the situation and the place, the Guardians will not always face the same enemies. These enemies do not have the same abilities and weaknesses.
However, the full game confirmed that the fighting is really basic. Star-Lord can use his guns, hit in close combat, jump, dodge, and use various abilities. His teammates also have their own abilities. And all of this can be combined for greater effectiveness. Logically, new abilities are unlocked over time. The hero can also craft equipment and skills using items collected during the missions.
Unfortunately, and even if the bestiary changes from one world to another, the fights follow the same pattern. Because of the number of allies and enemies on the screen simultaneously, the action is frequently confused. It is possible to get lost in what is happening. And the transitions between the animations are pretty rough, which doesn’t help. During the confrontations, we sometimes have the impression of being in front of a game from another era. Or a title whose development is not quite finished yet.
Too much is the worst enemy of goodness.
To highlight this unpleasant impression, some confrontations seem unnecessarily long. Enemies that aren’t even bosses take an insane amount of time to eliminate. Given the frequency of the fights, this is not a pleasant feeling. All this is a shame because the rest of the game really deserved to have a more advanced combat system.
Out of combat, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy offers overall straight-line progression with little touches of platforming. Bugs that make Peter Quill sometimes get stuck against elements of the scenery aside, these “exploration” phases are quite decent.
Without going into details, the game also requires several times to think about the situation in order to progress. A player who doesn’t pay enough attention could end up going in circles without realizing it at first. A few gimmicks/twists that should not be spoiled also spice up the progression a bit. The developers wanted to have fun, and it shows.
Let’s put it back?
Also, note that the developers had a good idea of integrating dogfight phases. As space travel is part of the Guardians’ daily life, these sequences have their place here. Although they are relatively short and simple, they also add some welcome variety to the adventure. Basically, yours truly would have preferred the game team to go even further in its various delusions. And that they would have taken their foot off the pedal when it comes to the long and frequent combat phases.
At the very end of our preview, we said that the game’s narrative “will have to be particularly strong overtime to make us turn a blind eye to the limitations” present elsewhere. Good news for fans of Marvel heroes, it is indeed the case. With Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Eidos Montreal offers a story that honors the license. And yours truly is already looking forward to meeting these funny, endearing, and touching heroes in a new adventure. If there is a sequel, it will simply have to be more ambitious and innovative on the gameplay side.
The impression left by Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will strongly depend on your interest in Star-Lord and his company. If the two GotG movies directed by James Gunn are among your favorite MCU movies, then chances are you’ll get hooked with Eidos Montreal’s game. And maybe you’ll even love it. The Guardians are funny, endearing, and (intentionally) heavy-handed. And the player enjoys discovering the whys and hows with them. All of this is accompanied by a musical journey into the 80s that fits. If the atmosphere of the Guardians’ adventures doesn’t make you feel hot or cold, it will certainly be more difficult to get past the not particularly interesting and sometimes long combat phases. The fact that Eidos Montreal didn’t try to make its title a service game, by all means, is in any case appreciable. The adventure proposed here is complete, with a well-controlled structure and narration.