Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy review for PS5, Xbox Series X, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC, Switch (Cloud Version)
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

In this new era of Covid, supply shortages, and delays it?s surprising to see a game announced and released in the same year, let alone a ?Triple-A? major licensed property, but here we are. That will be the last Covid reference as I like for my entertainment to be an escape with as little of real life as possible, so now it?s time for song and comic references. Guardians of the Galaxy from Square Enix took me by surprise when it was announced. Seeing how far along it was, then to see it was given an October release date. I thought surely it would be delayed like everything recently, but here we are at the end of October and I?ve been enjoying Guardians of the Galaxy on my PS5 for more than a week. Following last year?s release of The Avengers, expectations were tepid to say the least. So where does Guardians fall? Let?s break out the cowbell and get right into it.

I?m going to mix up my typical review style a bit and go right into the soundtrack. Following the release of James Gunn?s 2014 ?Guardians of the Galaxy? film, not only did the team become a household name, but their ties to some great 80?s tunes have also become a well known attribute to this team. Eidos Montreal did not cut any corners when it came to licensed music. I?m not going to go through them all but this is an absolutely top notch soundtrack filled with plenty of 80?s songs, some I?m expecting to be in ?Guardians Vol. 3? (unless Gunn doesn?t want to include them out of their video game usage). Europe, Flock of Seagulls, Bonnie Tyler, New Kids on the Block, Twisted Sister, and so much more! I didn?t care for how some of the songs are mixed with game audio and thought it might be my home theater set up but I looked over some of the day 1 patch notes and it included a note that they were improving the sound mix.

Other than boomboxes scattered throughout the game and the addition of some songs at certain moments of the game, you also get a random jam when you use the huddle up feature during battle. So throughout the action scenes you?re filling up the huddle up meter and when you trigger it, the team? you guessed it, huddles up. So you have all the Guardians huddled up and based on how the battle is going you get some unique dialogue from the team. Then you?re given two options of how to respond to the team and pump them up. Picking the correct option gives the entire team a battle buff. Whether you get it right or wrong, Peter plays a random song off his Walkman. Following one of my many huddles the Culture Club?s ?I?ll Tumble 4 Ya? started playing and I just started laughing. Cracking up as I shot enemies and coordinated attacks of the other Guardians, this was exactly what I wanted out of this release.

Coordinating attacks of the other Guardians is fun and seamless, but it does make me wish for more. As I have mentioned in some of my previous reviews as the resident Marvel reviewer, I?m a big fan of the Ultimate Alliance franchise, including being in the minority of those who really enjoyed the 3rd title (The Black Order). For those unfamiliar, you have a team of 4 heroes you select and you can switch between them on the fly and control each character how you choose. So when I found out you would just control Peter and kind of give orders to the other members of the Guardians, I was let down. That continued as I played because as repetition set in I just wished I could switch to Groot to use his branches to beat enemies or Drax?s blades to slash enemies. Guardians would have really went up another level if I could play as each member of the team, but I do understand the amount of work that would have been required and I don?t want to again talk about the C word I mentioned earlier in the review. I will say, this game is a great representation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but the center of the story is very much focused on the Peter Quill life and backstory.

Gameplay-wise get ready to do a lot of shooting. If you?re not a big Marvel fan you might need to be told that Peter Quill has no special powers per se. Outside of using his rocket boots you?ll be using his blasters for nearly all of his attacks (there?s also a melee attack I rarely used outside of the early sections of the game). So if you?re not a fan of shooters, this might be a tough sell. The action does get wild with the team fighting dozens of characters on the screen at the same time and that chaos is what kept me hooked. Your blasters have an active reload, think of Gears of War, so if you?re good at Gears you?ll feel right at home here. I don?t generally gravitate to the shooting variety of heroes, so again my slant on it might be slightly different than the general population. Give me Batman with all his gadgets any day. So the repetition of the action did hit me early on, but fear (the reaper) not there?s plenty of upgrades to be acquired, along with ability points and elemental blaster modifications that help vary the attacks from fight to fight.

Rocket?s work bench will provide you with character upgrades from health, shield, dash, charged shots, and more. In order to get these upgrades you have to find materials scattered throughout the levels of the story. It?s worth mentioning that this game is a strictly single player linear story with absolutely ZERO micro-transactions! Every item can be acquired as you play through the story and I also read that the trophies/achievements can all be completed on a single play through without needing multiple difficulty completions. These are all great moves by Square Enix, and really a good PR call on their part especially following the Avengers debacle (it?s gotten much better since launch). So on top of collecting the materials for the work bench upgrades, you also will find story logs scattered throughout the game to give a bit more backstory. You will also find additional costumes hidden throughout the levels. One of my biggest checklist items in superhero games are the alternate costume choices and Guardians of the Galaxy is no slouch. I really loved digging through levels to find costumes that could be immediately equipped and would reflect in cut scenes as well. I?m not going to spoil any of these but I will say comic and MCU fans will be pleased.

Whew, that?s a lot of stuff, but I haven?t even touched on my favorite part of the Guardians experience yet? the story! I was truly immersed in the story and I?ll admit it, this is probably one of the only times I?ve ever got a little teary eyed from a video game. The journey across the galaxy to many different comic locations and other little comic and pop culture references, kept me saying just a few more minutes. The banter between the Guardians is exactly what you would expect if you?re a fan of the MCU, comics, or the often forgotten Telltale game (which I recommend as well). Drax?s ultra dry, literal personality, Rocket?s sarcasm, and Groot?s ?I Am Groot.? The more you play the more attached you get and it just feels like an extended movie with one really long storyline. Game length surprised me as well, even without going for every collectible and costume. Since I mentioned the Telltale Guardians game, I should also tell you that the huddles aren?t the only spot you will have dialogue choices. Throughout the story you will make dialogue decisions that will impact gameplay and story. (Throw Rocket across a ravine or figure out a way across with the trash panda staying on the ground.) Some of these decisions will dictate how characters react to you throughout the story. It really just all adds to a top notch story that sets the bar pretty high for anything else Square Enix or anyone else puts out for that matter.

So, you go through the galaxy building a bad reputation and Peter is never gonna give up on the Guardians? Ok, I think that?s enough of the soundtrack references in this review. As many of the people who read my reviews know, I?m a huge Marvel fan so I can be tough on these reviews. I can be tough (Avengers) but I can also be glowing (Spider-Man) and minor nitpicks and repetition aside, the story of Guardians of the Galaxy hooked me enough to nearly look past all its flaws. I?m a simple man (not in game), give me a comic interpretation made by people who appreciate and understand the source material and tell a captivating story and you?ve got me hooked. There?s not much to do outside of the bit of collectibles and costumes after you beat the game but maybe if Guardians does well enough we?ll see some strong DLC content. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is built to be a holiday season blockbuster (I mean is anything else even coming out this holiday?), and all of its accessibility options make it the perfect gift for anyone.

Square Enix provided us with a Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+