Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a generic third-person shooter that’s copying a tried-and-tested blueprint rather than attempting to redefine the genre. But with a vibrant cast of characters that are just as entertaining as their MCU counterparts, I’m still excited to jump into this adventure and see how it develops.
- UKRRP: £59.99
- Single-player adventureMarvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a single-player outing, so a good alternative to Marvel’s Avengers if you prefer to play alone
- PlatformsWill be available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC and Switch
- Release dateMarvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will be available to buy on 26 October 2021
The Guardians of the Galaxy seems like the perfect IP to turn into a video game. It was a massive success in the cinema, has a huge range of alien worlds to visit, and features the side-tickling kind of humour that should keep you entertained from start to finish.
Square Enix clearly feels the same, choosing to give the loveable group their own action game ahead of solo outings for the likes of Iron Man, Captain America or Thor.
But with the failings of the Marvel’s Avengers game – which scored a low 4.9 out of 10 user rating on Metacritic – still fresh in the memory of fans, Square Enix has a lot to prove to convince us that this is a journey worth taking.
- Based on the comics rather than the MCU
- Characters all have entertaining and familiar personalities
- Can only player as Star-Lord, with no multiplayer option
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is based on the comic book series rather than the MCU movie that launched back in 2014. This is immediately obvious from the characters’ appearances: Star-Lord looks nothing like Chris Pratt thanks to his bright blonde quiff, while Rocket Raccoon is rocking a surprisingly well-groomed beard.
That said, this is still very much the same recognisable roster of characters we fell in love with at the cinema, with Rocket being overly sensitive and confrontational, and Gamora remaining just as cool and steely as she was in the MCU.
All of the staple jokes return, with frequent “I am Groot” grunts and Drax’s inability to understand metaphors – you’d think these gags would be getting stale at this point, but they still managed to keep me smirking.
But, of course, this version of the Guardians of the Galaxy has a different back story to its MCU counterpart, with the Square Enix game taking place several years after an intergalactic war. The Guardians of the Galaxy crew are no heroes – at least not yet – as they wander around the universe searching for their next big score.
For my hands-on demo, I was plonked three hours into the story, as Peter Quill decides to visit the Nova Corps to pay up the Guardians’ bounty. However, something immediately feels off, with no soldiers in sight to greet them.
While it initially appears that the Nova Corps are embroiled in a civil war, it soon becomes clear that something more sinister is afoot, with alien mind control influencing the intergalactic military and turning them against us. My demo didn’t delve too much deeper into the plot, but it’s a refreshing new tale for those who watched the MCU, with no sign of Thanos or the Infinity Stones.
You take control of Peter Quill, and Peter Quill only. This means you won’t be able to play as Drax, Gamora, Groot or Rocket during your adventure, and there’s no option for co-op play as there is in Marvel’s Avengers.
Eidos-Montréal made this decision to allow Star-Lord to order around his squadmates, emphasising his role as the captain. I was also surprised to see that you can make your own story-led decisions throughout your adventure, which can affect the relationships with your crew. I didn’t get to see the full effect of this during the demo, but I did snub a dialogue option that – according to a member of the Square Enix team – could have seen me swamped with enemies prematurely.
I’ve definitely noticed faint shades of Mass Effect in Guardians of the Galaxy, with the ability to improve (or worsen) relationships with your teammates. However, since this is a linear story, I highly doubt that there’s as much freedom as there is with Command Shephard’s outing, instead just serving as a way of creating dynamic relationships with your squad of outlaws.
- Star-Lord can only use his fists and iconic blasters for combat
- Can use the elemental gun to freeze enemies in place
- Hover boots are essential for avoiding damage in chaotic battlefields
The combat in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy feels generic for the third-person shooter genre, offering little that I haven’t seen before. But with the many quips of the Guardians and the thrill of darting around the arena with Star-Lord’s hover boots, I still enjoyed fighting off the countless waves of enemies.
Taking the role of Star-Lord, you get access to his dual blasters to take down foes. You get unlimited ammunition, but if you mistime a reload then your guns will jam, leaving you vulnerable to counter-attacks. It’s a pity that you can’t seemingly pick up or purchase new weapons, although that’s understandable given how iconic Star-Lord’s loadout is – it would be strange to see him use a shotgun or sniper rifle.
Instead, Eidos-Montréal makes use of Star-Lord’s Elemental Gun from the comic book series, which can cause additional effects beyond dealing damage. It quickly became clear that these elemental attacks aren’t a fun optional attack, but are essential for defeating certain enemies, with the ice blasts enabling me to freeze shield-toting grunts in place and flank their defenceless rear. Frozen enemies also take additional damage, which is incredibly important, since most of the enemies I faced were frustratingly adept at soaking up my laser blasts.
However, since I only had one elemental ammunition unlocked (three vacant slots implies more will be available later on in the game), combat became very repetitive after just two hours. I’m hopeful that unlocking additional special attacks and elemental ammunition further into the game will vary things up, but the demo does leave me a little concerned in this respect.
That said, combat certainly isn’t easy. I died three times during my playthrough on ‘normal’ difficulty, while Square Enix team members informed me that previous journalists over in the US even struggled to push past certain segments.
I can see why. The battlefield is often chaotic, with laser shots, grenades and blasts of lightning proving difficult to avoid. In order to come out unscathed, you’ll need to master your hover boots, which enable you to speed across the arena and dive between the legs of enemies to pull off some stylish stunts. You’ll also need to keep an eye on your teammates, as you may need to revive them if they take too much damage – neglect your friends, and you’ll soon find yourself greatly outnumbered.
The likes of Gamora and Drax can prove very useful in combat, too, as you can order them to interact with environmental objects to deal substantial damage. Gamora can chop down hanging crates to crush anyone standing below, while Drax can pick up and throw certain objects.
You’ll also be able to unlock more moves by spending experience points, which must be shared out across your entire squad. Personally, I was tempted to use them all on Star-Lord, since he’s the only person I can control, but there does seem to be some handy upgrades for other characters.
The one combat feature that I really wasn’t a fan of was ‘Team Huddle’. Down enough enemies, and you’ll be able to trigger a motivational speech cutscene in the middle of battle, which can boost the strength of your squadmates. I can understand the reason that Eidos-Montréal introduced this feature – it fits into the character of Star-Lord very well – but it breaks up the flow of combat and ruins the immersion. Fortunately, you can ignore this feature if it isn’t for you.
Puzzles and exploration
- Can command your crewmates to remove obstacles
- Features basic puzzles to vary up the gameplay
- Collectibles can be used to unlock upgrades
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy seems to primarily focus on combat, but there are also a number of puzzle segments to vary up the gameplay.
Each character in your squad is capable of bypassing certain obstacles. For the demo, I had to direct Rocket to squeeze through small passageways and hack open security systems. I imagine other character abilities will be unlocked in the future, but I’m still concerned that this mechanic will be overused, since it isn’t exactly a rewarding puzzle to solve.
Star-Lord is also able to use his own toolset for solving puzzles. His ice blasts can freeze objects in place, while his sensors can detect hidden power sources. For one segment, I needed to redirect the power to a locked door, which involved rotating a number of panels until all the power cables lined up. It was a very generic puzzle, but was still an enjoyable and refreshing break from the many intense shootouts.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is very much a linear game, with my demo having a very clear route through the Nova Corps station. I’m hoping that Eidos-Montréal will play around with the format for other levels, with alien planets proving a great opportunity for mini open-world hubs. But, honestly, given the enemy wave system and what I’ve seen so far, I’m doubtful that we’ll see much experimentation on this front.
That said, there are still lots of collectibles to be be found, so it’s worth keeping your eyes open for hidden rooms. Rocket can even use your collected materials to upgrade your weapons and gadgets, proving to be a good incentive to ransack every area.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy launches on 26 October 2021, so be sure to keep an eye on Trusted Reviews in the meantime for a full review and final verdict.
I had a good time playing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The vibrant personalities of the Guardians are just as entertaining as their MCU counterparts, and the story is shaping up to be an intriguing adventure that won’t retread the same Infinity Stone plot we saw in the cinema.
While I enjoyed the chaotic combat, I’m also concerned that the lack of weapon and gadget variety could see it become repetitive. But since this is just a two-hour snippet of the game, I still have hope that more options will come into play further down the line. If you’re a Marvel fan, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.