Last month I had the pleasure of joining Square Enix for a preview of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. I raved about the game, highly anticipating the full experience. Now, the game releases this week on October 26, and I was spoiled again, being able to spend the last couple of weeks diving in, and my feelings have been mixed so far.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy had me itching for a new action-adventure. After a lifetime of playing games like Dragon Age, Fable, Zelda, Fallout, Mass Effect and any Elder Scrolls title, jumping into this one felt right. I’ve longed for team missions, action-packed combat, and a story that I could really immerse myself in. GOTG has all of these things, but I’m still searching for something more.
Jumping into the game, you’re immediately thrown into the story, past and present. Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a cinematic experience. Each conversation becomes an interactive cutscene, and though in the preview I could skip through the dialogue (which is great for multiple playthroughs), I haven’t been able to skip anything in my first run. Though I normally wouldn’t mind this, especially for the first time playing, GOTG has a lot of dialogue, without the option of at least speeding things up, there is so much time spent watching instead of actually playing. Some people won’t mind this, as story-rich games are often welcome, but if you’re one of the ones craving action, beware that it takes some patience to get there.
“Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a cinematic experience.”
Here is where things get tricky. Though the game is a slow burn, it gives us an in-depth look at our Guardians. Star-Lord is played by Canadian-born Jon McLaren, and he manages to pull at the heart strings. I thought the lines were a tad cheesy with the back-and-forth banter, but once you get into Peter Quill’s past, different sides of his character are revealed, and I found myself really investing in the characters’ emotions multiple times during the course of the story.
Brandon Paul as Drax the Destroyer, Adam Harrington as Rocket and Groot, and Kimberly-Sue Murray as Gamora round out the rest of the Guardians, and each has the opportunity to shine. Because Guardians of the Galaxy is so choice-oriented, you get to pick and choose how deep you dive into each character.
I’m the sort of person who searches every nook and cranny of a game, so I spent a lot of time chatting with the Guardians, and their stories are worth it if you enjoy a well-rounded gaming experience…especially watching Drax flirt. Unfortunately, I found Gamora’s character rather thin. Her dialogue seemed shallow, and the other characters seemed to have quite a bit more range in their stories and delivery.
The team at Square Enix really played into the characters, with the animation helping to pull the player (viewer?) into the scene. Facial expressions are the key to emotional connection, and they did this perfectly. My only complaint here was the quality of mouth animations while the characters were speaking. It often looked very stiff, resembling something of a game from the original Xbox era. With the rest of the game being so beautiful, this seemed like a massive oversight.
“The team at Square Enix really played into the characters, with the animation helping to pull the player (viewer?) into the scene.”
Every new location explored was rich with colour, story and lore. You can use Star-Lord’s helmet to scan the area around you and find information about your surroundings, whether they help you in conversation, battle, with puzzles or are purely just interesting. There is a lot to uncover here, and if you aren’t careful, you could miss small details, like objects for your crewmates or new costumes.
Both in and out of scanning mode, I often found it difficult to interact with objects. Sometimes the RT wouldn’t scan what I was locked on, other times the Y button wouldn’t appear, leaving me to run back and forth trying to get it to trigger the prompt. Again, small issues that shouldn’t be there, taking me out of the game and leaving me frustrated.
Basically, the game I’ve been waiting ages for, is riddled with bugs. The buttons were just the beginning. Often, gameplay would get bugged, like on the way to see Lady Hellbender. I happened to veer off course and there was no way to get myself back. The wind was so strong that if I let go of the stick, jumped, or tried to use my blasters, I would be launched backwards off of the platform.
I thought this was just a really, really hard level, but after I was sent flying repeatedly, I died and had to restart. This time, the wind wasn’t a problem at all, and the game had just been stuck in a single wind gust, not letting me proceed. This is just one example of the issues I came across.
Outside of bugs, be prepared to spend the majority of your game time walking. Everywhere. In cities like Knowhere, Star-Lord paces around, finding games, museums, and people to talk to. Most of it seems irrelevant, though you are able to find some collectables this way. Conversations lead nowhere as there are no side quests, but sometimes you can get a good chuckle from what the NPCs are talking about. This part of the game is where a lot of Easter eggs can be found, so if you’re a fan of the MCU, keep an eye out.
Battle is where the game gets the most complicated. In most video games where you control a team, I would often ignore my teammates and fight my way to victory. In Guardians of the Galaxy, that was never an option for me. The fight sequences were not simple, I was knocked down a lot, having to restart the fights regularly. Once you get into the swing of things, and purchase more and more upgrades, it gets a little easier, but I wouldn’t say it is ever simple. It is very much a team-oriented game.
“Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is great for anyone who enjoys a slow-burn adventure.”
This brings me to the team huddles, arguably the worst mechanic in the game. Once you fill up a bar in combat, you’re able to enter your huddle, with the goal being to motivate your team and gain a power up. Not only do you have to pull yourself out of combat for these sequences, but the dialogue that follows is really corny.
If you give the right response based on what your team is saying, everyone gains a boost. If you’re wrong, only you gain a boost. I’d rather just skip it when I can. Between the cheesy dialogue and less-than design in each huddle, it just pulls me out of the moment, and I have to reorient myself when I dive back in to fight. In theory, this could be an interesting concept, but the execution is sorely lacking.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is great for anyone who enjoys a slow-burn adventure. You will find plenty of RP walking, dialogue, collections, backstory and relationships, meaning if a good story is what you enjoy in your game, you’ll like this one. It is really more of a cinematic experience with some fight scenes added in. So, if you’re looking to explore, search and have rich experiences outside the main story, Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t the game for you.