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Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Release Date: Oct. 26, 2021

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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Switch/PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Sept. 22, 2021 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Play as Star-Lord with the unpredictable Guardians at your side. Blast your way from one explosive situation to another in a struggle for the fate of the universe.

Buy Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

I didn't exactly know what to expect going into the preview build of the upcoming Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy game. What I feared was yet another movie tie-in that oddly released in a window between entries in the movie series. After playing about an hour and a half of hands-on time with the game, I can happily admit that my fears were unfounded. GotG genuinely seems to be its own thing that's not tied to the movies but to the characters. More importantly, it was truly fun to play, and it was charming in unexpected ways.

The section that I played is set about four hours into the experience, with the Guardians having recently escaped from captivity. They're making their way to a Nova Corps station to pay a fine and get a tracker removed from their ship. The hands-on time beginning with the crew still in transit to the station on board the Milano. Players control Peter Quill, and the interior of the Milano is a place to interact with the other Guardians. Each Guardian has their own quarters on the ship, and each room is decorated differently. Players can interact with some items in each room to trigger a conversation cut scene.

The conversations yield insight into the characters, but it's important to know that the game doesn't follow the beats that the movies established. If anything, I got the impression that the game is making a concerted effort to establish itself independent of the movies. The character likenesses look nothing like the movies, and the voice actors are talented actors who aren't meant to be sound-alikes. It's an oddly compelling aspect, as it makes things feel separate enough that it removes any fears of it being a "movie cash-in" game but retains the same sort of comedy featured in the films — and presumably the comics.

Upon arrival at the station, the group finds … no one. A station that would normally have a bustling amount of activity is oddly empty, with nary a soul to be found. It becomes a detective mystery as the Guardians search the station, only to find a helmet lying in one of the rooms. In my playthrough, I had Peter attempt to communicate by using the radio contained within the helmet, but that caused a group of Nova Corps officers — who were glowing purple for some reason? — to enter the room and start a fight.

Fighting in the game feels like a fairly traditional third-person action game, and at a very basic level, it amounts to moving or dodging while unloading Peter's twin weapons against distant foes or using them to bash enemies who are within melee range. That would sell the game short, though; while you directly control Peter, it is up to you to take advantage of the abilities of the other Guardians.

The other Guardians fight alongside you under AI control, and they do a decent job of spreading out and getting into the mix. Enemies target them just as readily as they target you, and they'll do some damage to each other with basic attacks. However, it is up to you to instruct a Guardian to execute a special ability by holding a bumper button, pressing a face button to select the Guardian (Drax, Gamora, Groot or Rocket Raccoon), and finally a face button again to choose which ability. Each Guardian has different abilities and different roles in a fight, and using them effectively is just as important as using Peter's abilities.

Some stronger enemies have a stagger bar, and once filled, it causes them to take far more damage for a short period of time. In the preview build, Drax's ability causes a high amount of stagger damage, while Groot provides for an area-of-effect root to hold enemies in place. Gamora did great single-target damage, while Rocket lobbed explosives to deal damage in an area. You can see how using these tactical abilities would be useful, but more importantly, they're downright fun. At no point does it feel like you're babysitting the AI; it feels more like it's the five of you busting some heads, and occasionally, you get to orchestrate some stylish powerful abilities to wreck the fools in your way.

It's the smaller beats that sell the illusion that the Guardians are more than just random AI to be largely ignored. Uppercut someone into the air, and if they're nearby, there's a chance that a Guardian may jump-kick them out of it. Do it again with Rocket relatively nearby, and he might shoot them out of the sky. Fight well, and you might also trigger events where you and another Guardian tag-team an enemy in a short cut scene. At times, taking out the last big enemy of a group might have all the Guardians getting in that one last hit.

As you fight, you build momentum, which you can spend by … giving the Guardians a pep talk. It's a super-stylized cut scene with Peter holding up his Walkman and the other members of the team rushing over. What they say is seemingly random but revolves around a theme, and it results in two pep talk speech options to select from. Pick the wrong one, and Peter gets a boost to his ability cooldowns. Pick the correct one, and the whole team gets that boost, and a song from his Walkman takes over the game's soundtrack. I never thought "Call Me" by Blondie would end up being an amazing fight song to crack some heads to, but here we are.

The rest of the play time saw the group fighting its way past more Nova Corps troops before finally freeing the ship and escaping the station, but not without also spying a priest-like figure alongside other Nova Corps personnel worshiping a strange artifact. Clearly, not all is well within that station — if not Nova Corps as a whole — and I'm interested to see how the plot plays out.

I came away from my time with Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy simply wanting to play more. The gameplay is fun because it clearly doesn't take itself seriously. The combat is surprisingly nuanced due to the use of Guardian abilities to take advantage of some enemy weaknesses. If nothing else, I'd really like to know why there is a surprisingly colorful alpaca aboard the Milano. I am genuinely looking forward to finding out, and I would not have predicted that before my session.

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