Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy on PS4
Like many, I had a lot of questions going into Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Would it try to simply replicate the success and style of its MCU movie counterparts? How does it compare to Marvel’s Avengers and Marvel’s Spider-Man? What new and fun things does it bring to the table?
Thankfully, despite having some preconceived notions, expectations, and comparisons already at the forefront of my mind, I’m happy to say that not only does Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy stand out in its own right, it does so marvelously.
Unlike the movies, which sees everyone on their own at the start (except for Rocket and Groot), Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy starts with the team already being established. Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot have all already met and done 14 missions together, though they are still as dysfunctional as ever.
Issues like Drax still calling Gamora either “daughter of Thanos” or “traitorous assassin” or Rocket just being a selfish ass are still prevalent, despite the fact that they are a “team.” It is also interesting to note that it is stated that Thanos is dead from the outset, meaning that he won’t be the main driving force of the game, though the fallout from his Galatic War is still very important.
This is the perfect point at which to start the game’s story. Doing so provides enough time for the group to have already established connections and opinions of one another while also offering plenty of opportunity for growth.
It is that growth and team-building that serves as a foundational core of both the game’s gameplay and narrative.
While you only control Peter “Starlord” Quill, in a physical sense at least, the gameplay of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is built around instructing your teammates on what to do alongside killing enemies yourself. Each character has four different skills that can be unlocked via skill points earned through battles.
Once unlocked, skills are directed via a real-time weapon wheel, with each character getting a button and subset skill prompt assigned to them. While they will attack enemies of their own accord as well, these special moves do serious damage.
To execute these moves, Peter first indicates the enemy that he wants his teammates to attack. Once used, each special will have a cooldown that must finish before it can be activated again.
While this might seem simple enough, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy does a great job at providing the right amount of nuance to its combat. Instead of every attack doing damage to every opponent, Peter needs to make sure he’s aware of his enemy’s strengths and weaknesses.
For example, Nova Corp members who can fly aren’t going to be as easy to hit because of their air maneuverability. As such, it doesn’t make sense to try and have Gamora or Drax overwhelm them with brute force. Instead, Groot’s stagger abilities or Rocket’s ranged grenades should be used to either slow them down or dwindle their health with a large area of effect attack that is hard to dodge.
This back and forth strategy of different enemy types and attack variation continues as the game goes on, making it so that combat always feels fresh. Just about every time one of the Guardians unlocks a new skill, there is a new challenge to overcome enemy-wise as well.
I will say that the one warning I’ll give players is that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy does have bits and pieces where it’ll chug on previous-gen consoles. While playing on PS4, there were a few times where a lot of enemies got on screen made it so that the FPS dropped and audio became distorted.
Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often, but it was enough to take me out of combat here and there. It is also worth noting that this wasn’t an issue at all when played on the PS5 version.
Alongside combat, there are also plenty of puzzles to figure out while exploring each level too. You’ll need to use a number of different mechanics to unlock paths, like Peter Quill’s element blasters or Groot’s vine bridges.
While they’re a smaller part of the game, getting to solve some of these puzzles is pretty fun, especially since there are a lot of hidden rewards that give you cool outfits for each character. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy also throws in some space combat scenes in the Milano every now and then, though they are pretty bare bones.
Regardless of the lack of depth, I was still glad these flying sequences were included, as it added to the space pirate vibe that the Guardians always give off to anyone who meets them.
This clever gameplay loop really wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if it weren’t for the game’s music, which occurs via a feature known as the Huddle. Whenever the Guardians have dealt enough damage, a bar will fill up, allowing Peter to bring them into a huddle.
Once huddled, Peter must pick between one of two dialogue choices, with the correct answer being based on words that his teammates say prior to picking. If he chooses correctly, the team not only gets sweet buffs that increase damage and skill cooldown, but it also plays a licensed rock song from the 80s while the fight continues.
And man, I tell you what, you haven’t lived until you’ve fought enemies in space flying around with jet boots and blasters to the tune of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Every single song blends into the fight and action seamlessly, making the chaotic gameplay that much more fun as a result.
Alongside getting to hear the killer soundtrack in battle, with the track changing with each new huddle, the licensed music is also available to listen to freely on the Milano. I found myself walking over to the tracklist and setting the mood every time I had the opportunity between each mission, helping make the ship feel like home.
The music wasn’t the only thing that made the Milano feel cozy, though, as the conversations on it led to significant character development and backstory. Whether I was prompting Peter to talk to his crewmates or simply listening to the others talk amongst themselves, I found myself fascinated by how natural the dialogue flows, especially within the context of the story.
The evolution of Gamora and Drax’s relationship is especially heartwarming to hear when you pay attention to these small bits of dialogue. What starts as a tumultuous relationship between former enemies eventually becomes a blossoming friendship built on respect and understanding, something that can be said for all the Guardians.
The Guardians that are introduced in Chapter 1 are much different than the crew that ends the game. I’m not ashamed to admit that I teared up more than once while playing this game, as its themes of loss, grief, fear, acceptance, perseverance, and friendship make for one of the most touching narratives I’ve ever played.
I cannot recommend playing Marvel’s Guardians enough for the experience it provides. Its decision to focus on story, characters, and ambiance instead of trying to throw in a bunch of content that pads the adventure results in an amazing game. It is right up there with the Arkham Trilogy and Marvel’s Spider-Man as one of the best superhero video games of all time.
- Amazing story, themes, and characters.
- Combat and narrative growth feels natural.
- Liscensed sountrack fits perfectly.
- I Am Groot.
- Framerate and audio issues occur here on last gen consoles.
- I Am Groot.
Oct. 26, 2021
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC
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