You may have played Marvel‘s Guardians of the Galaxy, published by Square Enix, and thought to yourself, “I wish this had just focused on the single-player campaign instead of all this game-as-service stuff,” but I have some good news for you: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will be released as a single-player campaign in the near future. The Guardians of the Galaxy, a Marvel franchise that is also published by Square Enix, have arrived to rescue the day. This game, which has no microtransactions, no multiplayer, and a very lengthy plot, serves as more confirmation that linear single-player campaigns are still alive and well today. There’s nothing revolutionary about Guardians of the Galaxy’s simple but entertaining combat or its relatively straightforward level design, but those solid fundamentals, combined with the metric ton of personality slathered on top of them, are more than enough to make it some good old-fashioned fun.
Contrary to its name, you will be playing as Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, for the length of this approximately 18-hour campaign. That was an unexpected decision on my part, but it turns out to be one that works really well for the tale being conveyed in the film. This is a gigantic comic book tale about the Guardians attempting to get out of debt, learning to work together, and maybe even rescuing the galaxy along the way – but it’s framed by circumstances that are far more personal to Peter than the rest of the story. In the end, Peter and the rest of the crew (Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot) have some very meaningful moments, which makes for an interesting plot that balances its continual bombardment of spectacle and humor with some genuinely heartfelt moments for themselves.
While that tale is likewise totally linear, the developer Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex origins are evident in the number of conversation options available. You’re constantly given options for how Peter will react to various conversations, whether they’re important story moments or just walking around chatting with your teammates – there’s rarely a moment when the Guardians aren’t talking, which is welcome when the writing and performances are all so amusing. These conversation options are primarily simply for fun in an otherwise predictable plot, but some of them may have a surprising consequence.
Making the appropriate speech choices to save a character at one time, for example, may lead to their returning to assist you later. On another occasion, I made a decision that resulted in the following level being a simple stealth segment, only to discover after the tale was completed that the alternative option would have converted the whole level into big combat. Although the great bulk of this campaign will likely look the same for everyone, these little deviations gave my playing a personal touch and piqued my curiosity in attempting New Game Plus to see what else may have occurred.
Each game has a lovely little unique touch thanks to your decisions.
Not only is the tale told through Peter’s point of view, but you also have direct control of him and his twin pistols in battle. Instead of putting themselves in the shoes of the other Guardians, they gain a total of four skills that you may tell them to employ. Groot may be sending out roots to tie adversaries, while Gamora could be doing tremendous damage to a single target. This approach provides you a lot of choices at any one time, and the speed with which they’re added and how intuitively they’re mapped to your controller makes juggling them in the middle of a battle a rewardingly achievable activity.
Of course, Peter has a few tricks up his sleeve. He’ll have four special abilities, including the ability to activate his jet boots and fly for a brief period, as well as four distinct kinds of elemental shots that can freeze or burn bad guys in addition to his standard laser blasts. Combat is a lot of fun since there are so many different alternatives, even if it isn’t the deepest or most intricate dance I’ve ever done. You’ll largely be holding the left trigger to latch on to an adversary and the right trigger to unleash a fire hose of lasers when you’re not issuing commands to your fellow Guardians. A basic active-reload system will reward you with additional damage and keep you focused, but you’ll be holding down the right trigger for the most part.
Even yet, fighting remained fun throughout the whole game. That’s owing in part to the diverse adversary design, which forces you to employ various elemental assaults to exploit vulnerabilities or remove shields, as well as larger adversaries that may be staggered by specific skills. Gamora’s skills offer high damage, Drax’s is more about stagger, Rocket has the highest AOE, and Groot can bind targets, thus each of your comrades has a distinct duty to play. It’s also important that their skills seem powerful since you’ll be dealing practically all of the damage without them; your teammates’ auto-attacks produce roughly as much damage as a vigorous massage.
The banter is another element that keeps the battle new. Seriously, this game has a ton of spoken conversation, and the interaction between each team member is both fun and educational, as you can witness their relationships develop throughout the plot. There were definitely instances when I heard the same sentence repeated a few times too many times, but overall, the range of barking is astounding. As a result, even battles that are superficially identical might have new appeal depending on their setting or the dialogues that take place during them.
With a superpower called The Huddle, dialogue choice is even incorporated into battle. Peter gathers everyone around to chat about the battle when it’s triggered (which may be done unintentionally by pressing L1 and R1 at the same time), and then you have to select a pep talk answer based on what they’ve said to get a boost. It will also play one of the numerous licensed ‘80s songs from Guardians of the Galaxy for the length of the buff, which may be exhilarating or hilarious depending on the outcome. Fighting a big alien squid monster while Wang Chung’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” was one of the most crazily euphoric moments I’ve had in a game this year, while Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” suddenly came on during a dramatic endgame confrontation was a different kind of amusing.
Combat isn’t the most in-depth, but it’s never been boring.
You’ll travel around Guardians of the Galaxy’s many settings, which vary from Nova Corp space ships to stunning extraterrestrial planets, in between combat and cutscenes. These parts, like the game itself, follow a rather straight course with the odd environmental puzzle or optional treasure to uncover, interspersed with combat in larger open areas. And, like the battle, they’re more enjoyable because of the banter and visual diversity than because they’re particularly profound or fascinating on their own.
You’ll need to issue orders to your friends from time to time, such as ordering Rocket to hack a terminal or Drax to transport something large and heavy from one location to another. As you find out the best method to combine various talents, this may provide for some really easy but yet quite entertaining problem-solving. Having your team around adds a little more life to these paths, with them wandering off to look at things on their own or standing around bored while you search a side route – their presence also helps solve the completionist problem of knowing whether a path is a right way or the “wrong” way full of goodies since they’ll usually move toward the next main path on their own and make comments when you go off in search of loot.
The collectibles you’ll find are either crafting currency to upgrade Peter’s abilities, cosmetic costumes for different team members to wear (all of which are cooler than a recolor, with new outfits and throwback references), written logs for some story flavor, or special items that unlock new conversations when you’re hanging out back on your ship between chapters. Collecting these items was always satisfying, even though the side roads were frequently just as simple to locate and follow as the major ones. The only genuine criticism is that making money is so common that it becomes monotonous to learn, but that’s largely due to the absence of a sprint button.