Star-Lord and Company are Coming Soon
With the release of Eidos Montreal’s Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy now upon us, anticipation is building among fans of the superheroes, as well as doubt expressed by skeptical players who have been burned by games like Avengers. I can’t claim an encyclopedic grasp of the Guardians rich history through decades of comics and multiple reboots, but until I played the new game, I was pretty sure the two Guardians films represented the best possible live-action version of the team. But now, I wonder…does Square Enix’s game do the Guardians one better? Or three?
Let’s Start with the Obvious: The Guardians are Interactive
Watching Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Star-Lord and Groot blast their way through the film is a roller coaster of fun, but in the end, it’s a passive experience. On the other hand, the game allows for the player to step into the shoes of Peter Quill, as well as manage the abilities of the team in battle, and even the easiest of enemy encounters requires a fair amount of teamwork and the smart use of everyone’s strengths. I know some skeptics were disappointed that the player assumes the role of Star-Lord, but the actual game experience is much more varied and inclusive, and combat is an engaging blast. Speaking of interactivity, the verbal interplay, one-liners and general team vibe of the Guardians is far more nuanced and developed than in the films.
If You Want Fan Service, this is Your Game
The most recent incarnation of the Guardians first appeared in the comics in 2008, and each of the team has had solo story spinoffs, resulting in a pretty deep treasure trove of lore. The 2014 film and its sequel naturally narrowed their focus to a small slice of the Guardians universe, but over 20+ hours of gameplay, Guardians of the Galaxy not only pays deep homage to the comics, but it also references costumes from the films as well, complete with designer/artist credits. In fact, there are dozens of costumes to find, pulled from decades of the comics and the films, all credited. The game’s dialogue and story are encyclopedically full of callbacks and references as well. Yes, this game is definitely its own take on the Guardians, but it’s well aware of its sources.
Additionally, the game pulls enemies and allies from the comics (and the writers’ imaginations) that weren’t seen or referenced in the film to create a compelling yet utterly authentic cast of characters. It’s a well-written story that would not be out of place in the books. And, speaking of story…
There’s Time for Character Development and Story
I loved the movies, but let’s face it if you didn’t know the comics the plot and references were an arcane and incomprehensible jumble of names and places, never stopping long enough to make sense to the uninitiated. In contrast, Eidos’ Guardians of the Galaxy game takes its time to establish the characters and their relationships, and there are literally hours of backstory, richly written dialogue, and character-building that simply can’t happen in a live-action film. Although the game’s structure is linear, there are dozens of story points that can take slightly divergent paths depending on player choice,
Anyone hoping for digital copies of the film’s cast will be disappointed, but that would be missing the point and failing to appreciate the uniformly stellar work of the game’s cast, as well as the design team’s vision of the Guardians. All the snark and humor of the film and comics comes through, and a fair amount of emotional complexity as well. Perhaps my favorite superheroes, any film or game has to capture the dysfunctional and conflicted “family dynamics” of the group, and the game absolutely nails this aspect.
Superheroes have had a spotty and inconsistent relationship to video games, inspiring both some amazing and disappointing products. The game should satisfy fans of both fast-paced third-person action as well as the Guardians themselves, but check out our review and chime in with your own opinion.
Who is your favorite Guardian? What are you hoping for in the new game? Let us know below!
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