Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Eidos-Montreal nailed the vibe, but other parts are lacking.

by Diego Perez

Although licensed games aren’t nearly as big as they were in the 2000s, Marvel video games have been making a huge comeback over the past few years. Existing releases like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Avengers have shown fans the highest of highs and lowest of lows when it comes to licensed superhero games, and with exciting new entries like Marvel’s Wolverine on the horizon, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has some pretty big shoes to fill. Eidos-Montreal’s take on the band of intergalactic misfits avoids most of the pitfalls that Marvel’s Avengers suffered from, but it doesn’t manage to reach the highs that the Guardians are capable of. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a game with a whole lot of heart, but its variety and ideas can only do so much to hold up an average plot and lack of polish.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a fully single-player, narrative-driven adventure that places players into the jet boots of Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, leader of the newly-formed Guardians of the Galaxy. In this game, the team is still working through their differences and learning to work together. It’s not quite an origin story, but the team is still new enough at this point in the story where it basically feels like one. It turns out, a setup like this works great for a Guardians of the Galaxy game.

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Because the story is set up in such a way, Eidos-Montreal places a huge emphasis on being the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Star-Lord is the only playable Guardian, and while many felt like this was a strange decision when it was first revealed, it’s actually one of the game’s strongest aspects. In combat, you give commands to the other members of the team and try to come up with creative combos for their unique skills. You can give Groot the order to bind a group of enemies with his roots and then capitalize on that by yelling at Rocket to throw a grenade, for example. Each Guardian excels in certain areas, and discovering how to best utilize them is the most engaging part of this game’s combat system.

After filling up a meter during a fight, you can activate the Huddle, which pulls the team aside for a quick motivational speech. The Guardians will say different things depending on how the fight is going, and it’s up to you to choose the right thing to say. Choose the right thing, the whole team gets a buff. Choose the wrong thing, only Quill gets the boost. Regardless of the outcome, Quill loads up a song on his MP3 player and music begins to play from the game’s extensive 80s soundtrack. The music is amazing, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from a Guardians of the Galaxy game. It’s little touches like these that demonstrate Eidos-Montreal’s love for the IP.

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The leadership theme doesn’t stop once combat ends, however. Although it doesn’t branch as much as a Telltale game, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy features frequent dialogue choices with larger story decisions sprinkled in between. These choices are mostly inconsequential, but they can lead to unique gameplay sections or special bonuses later down the line that other players might miss based on their decisions. These choices primarily affect how the other Guardians feel about Quill’s leadership, resulting in different dialogue and character dynamics. It sounds small on paper, but it really makes the story feel much more personal even though all players go down the same path.

The main plot itself, however, isn’t very interesting. It does have some good moments and a few surprises, but the team’s dynamic is what carries the main story. While the main plot is nothing to write home about, the best moments happen outside of the main story beats. A casual chat with Rocket on the Milano, an introspective conversation with Drax on Knowhere, these one on one moments between Quill and the other Guardians are some of the best in the entire game. Returning to the Milano in between chapters and catching up with the team was always a pleasure.

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Just like the movies and comics, this game understands that the Guardians are at their best when they’re not being shot at. Eidos-Montreal nailed the characterizations. They get these characters. They’re not afraid to let Gamora show her soft side. Drax is more than just a punchline. It’s obvious that there was a lot of care and attention put into getting these characters right.

This game also goes the extra mile to cater to Guardians of the Galaxy fans. It’s got all the music you would expect, a new joke is cracked before you can even process the last one, and the team’s journey somehow takes them to every fan-favorite location from both the movies and comics. If all you want to do is fight battle some aliens, giving commands to Groot, Gamora, and the rest of the gang while classic 80s tracks blast in the background, then you’ll have a wonderful time with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Unfortunately, the Guardians’ journey isn’t a completely stable one. The game is marred with consistent bugs across last-gen and current-gen systems. The experience is definitely better if you’re playing on PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S, but PS4 and Xbox One owners are going to have a lesser experience. On last-gen consoles like PS4, the game runs at 30 FPS with drops. The game can struggle to maintain that target in later sections with plentiful enemies and particle effects. There are also occasional audio glitches where sound effects will stutter. The next-gen versions seem to have been the priority during development, but even these aren’t perfectly stable.

On PS5, I didn’t encounter anything game-breaking, but there were plenty of instances where I had to reload an earlier checkpoint because the game wouldn’t allow me to interact with anything. Serious story moments would lose all their weight because the interaction prompt just wouldn’t appear and I’d have to reload a checkpoint or dialogue would constantly repeat and I’d miss out on what was being said. Other times, interaction prompts would appear but the buttons would remain on-screen for much longer than they should have. Again, the worst bugs could be fixed with a simple reload, but the issues were frequent enough that they became frustrating. This game could have used another month or two in the oven to add an additional layer of polish.

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Things can also start to get fairly repetitive as the game goes on. Once you get a feel for the combat, it’s easy to settle into a rhythm and stop experimenting with your abilities as much. I wish it leaned harder into the strategy aspect of combat and implemented something like the Gambit system from Final Fantasy XII. Combat encounters can really start to feel like just going through the motions, especially in the second half of the game. Exploration isn’t super rewarding either, as you’ll usually just find a small batch of crafting components if you go out of your way to find secrets. You can find unlockable costumes, however, but these are dished out so infrequently and the best ones are saved for last, so it’s hard to get excited about them.

Overall, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a good time. It has its dull moments, sure, but I’m still looking forward to spending a few more hours with Star-Lord and the crew as I clean up trophies and shoot for the Platinum. When you break from a Huddle with music blasting and everyone’s abilities going off, it’s hard not to have a blast. This game nailed the vibe and nailed the look, even if the middling story, technical issues, and repetition hold it back from being truly great.

This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.

- This article was updated on October 25th, 2021

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Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

  • Score: 3.5 / 5
  • Available On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
  • Published By: Square Enix
  • Developed By: Eidos-Montreal
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • US Release Date: October 26, 2021
  • Reviewed On: PS5
  • Quote: "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy absolutely nails the vibe and look, even if the middling story, technical issues, and repetition hold it back from being truly great."
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