Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Review)

Marvel has literally changed the face of cinema with its superhero universe, but it’s been quite a bit harder for them to impact gaming.  And while I’m working on a backlog review of Avengers, I decided that in the short time I put into that game, it was also worth giving Guardians of the Galaxy a chance.  Let’s find out what I was in store for.


GAMEPLAY

The overall handling is just plain wonky.

I’m always one to give you warnings and this is a game that needs one.  The overall handling is just plain wonky.  Movement and platforming feel rough and unpolished, and the lock-on combat focus never feels intuitive.  Sure, you get used to it, and by the end you have a decent amount of abilities at your disposal, but it never felt like it had enough time to fully form as if the game was pushed to release before the final stage of polish had been put on the gameplay.  Having said that, they did at least craft worlds worth exploring for upgrade items, and though there are times that the upgrades seem mostly useless, it wasn’t hard to unlock them all simply by smelling the roses a bit.  Further gameplay elements, however, do bring in some interesting hybridization: namely RPG-like dialogue.  This ranges from spending time getting to know the characters and build their lore to making branching decisions in the storyline.  Granted, all roads lead to the same place, but I purposely restarted checkpoints just to see how things can pan out differently on a minor level.  It’s a very nice thing to see and it made me feel more involved in the story than I had anticipated.  So despite the platforming and combat clearly coming out of the oven way too soon, the game’s world itself did continue to simply pull me along thanks to dialogue elements.


CONTENT

…a nice touch to be able to chase something other than achievements.

And those dialogue elements do comprise a lot of your time in the game.  If you take some time to smell the Lady Hellbende-err-roses, you’ll likely beat the game somewhere in the realm of 15-17 hours.  Fortunately, once again thanks to branching dialogue, there is no denying you will either want to: a) play through the game again (and there’s a New Game Plus option and additional outfits for this!) simply to choose all the worst dialogue options possible for shits and giggles, or b) replay chapters to simply get a taste for the different things characters would have said or done.  It’s not quite infinite replayability, and I’d say at max you would really only play the game twice, but it’s still a nice touch to be able to chase something other than achievements.


PRESENTATION

…it definitely became a genuine adventure.

This has really been a rough area with current gen consoles.  It’s a good-looking game, but in a sort of vacuum between last gen and current gen.  First and foremost, if you’re on current gen, don’t bother with the performance mode: the loss in resolution is far too great and the game just seriously becomes blurry if you’re gaming like I am on a 4K TV.  It’s not worth it.  That leaves what I consider to be the “regular” quality mode, and while this is locked to 30fps, it does indeed show off a mix of current gen lighting with last gen lack of polish.  Thus, it looks great, but has its shortcomings in simple things like character animations and shadows in the environment.  However, the cinematics pull out all the stops and look absolutely fantastic as it seems this is where a larger amount of development time was spent.  The focus on the cinematics also pans out in the story: I can’t spoil it, but it definitely became a genuine adventure.  It is the primary part of the game world that, indeed, pulled me along.  When you combine the branching dialogue gameplay elements with a story that actually puts so many moving pieces together, it compels you to keep playing.  Unfortunately, I do have to end on a simply negative note: there IS such a thing as too much dialogue, and there definitely were moments where the characters simply didn’t shut up.  I can safely say there is more unnecessary chatter than combat, and that’s… well that’s not a good thing even if it’s supposed to be “in character” for the team.


CONCLUSION

It becomes clear the focus was on the cinematics and storyline…

I like games that are easy to review because I can come to a summation that is clear cut.  This game’s biggest flaw is a huge markdown: gameplay handling.  Enough hours in any game and you can get used to it, but it’s simply a very unpolished control experience.  It becomes clear the focus was on the cinematics and storyline, both of which are finely done using high-quality graphics and branching dialogue options.  And thanks to those branching dialogue options, you’ll even want to replay scenes just to see how it pans out.  But it’s still marred a bit by the last gen and current gen transition, and sometimes… well sometimes I’d wish they’d all just stop talking for more than 30 seconds.

I give Guardians of the Galaxy

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