Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Gameplay Review: Hands-On Reaction - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Gameplay Review: Hands-On Reaction

If you loved Marvel's Spider-Man and Marvel's Avengers​​​​​​, and can't wait for Marvel's Wolverine, there's another "Marvel's" video game coming your way you might wanna know about. Eidos-Montréal and Square Enix's forthcoming Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (not to be confused with Telltale's 2017 episodic game) features that lovably roguish gang of heroic misfits on an epic space adventure filled with frenetic combat, power-ups, customizable dialogue trees, and more. I recently got my classic rock-loving hands on this sucker via a special preview event, and I'm delighted to report this new take on GotG feels by and large like an absolute dang blast.

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The level I played, Chapter 5, begins with our familiar quintet — Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot — docking aboard a spaceport to pay a routine fine for a routine set of space shenanigans. As you might expect, things get pretty not-routine pretty quickly, resulting in an inadvertent prison escape, cult fiasco, and need to blast the hell out of there.

This chunk of gameplay gave me a fairly balanced look at what to expect from the overall title. Its first half was appreciably slow, with seamless transitions between gameplay and cinematics as your Star-Lord (the only character you directly control, a quality I enjoyed as an intentionally centralizing force) and his Guardians explores their surroundings, talk to each other, and solve puzzles. Initially, some of the rapport of the Guardians felt a little forced; the writing and voice performances ached to reach the vibes cultivated by James Gunn's MCU films rather than finding their own identity, and that strain was palpable. But, the actual mechanics of bantering with your fellow Guardians via dialogue trees felt fluid, fun, and of notable consequence, easing the tension of what they were saying until I started to gel with them further (plus, to reiterate, I was dumped in mid-game instead of getting to know them from level one). The puzzles solved in this portion ranged from Uncharted-style simplicity ("find the yellow thing and interact with it!") to strikingly clever interactivity ("select Rocket Raccoon from your wheel of Guardians and have him deal with tech!") to somewhat unintuitive chin-scratchers ("select Rocket Raccoon twice in a row for some reason!").

When the gameplay shifted to all-out combat, Marvel's GotG really started to click with consistency for me. I had a blast with these combat encounters, at times reaching euphoric heights of emotion, invention, and just plain dang fun. As noted, you solely control Star-Lord, who runs, jumps, and slides with '80s action hero-feeling agility, punches the crap out of people with brutal melee attacks, blasts the crap out of enemies with his blaster, and has specially powered blaster effects he can charge and use (this segment features his freeze gun, and it was very, very satisfying to freeze somebody so bad I shattered their asses into tiny pieces). He's a hoot to control in a firefight, a hoot that becomes exponentially hootier (roll with me) when the other Guardians come into play.

Beyond your teammates fighting enemies as NPC allies on their own, there are plenty of opportunities for you to trigger team interactions, both in location-driven constants (if you see a barrel, run over and trigger Drax hurling it at enemies) and QTE-driven spontaneity (if a button pops up at a crucial moment, press it and watch your Guardians raise some heck). These elements drive home a subtle emotional arc of teamwork making the dream work, adding a welcome set of dynamics to its combat to boot — though I must gripe that moments involving helping or healing your teammates, while nice in theory, often felt unresponsive or death-inducing to Star-Lord himself. And while I'm gripin', one key combat encounter simply needed another checkpoint to achieve its maximum fun-over-frustration level; I kept dying far into the encounter, and every time I had to restart at its very beginning, I grimaced with a little more emphasis.

The greatest fusion of the game's sparky combat, emphasis on collaboration, and straight-up joy comes with its team huddles. As you fight, a kind of Guardians Meter fills up on the side; when it's completely full, hit your two bumper buttons and your Guardians stop the action to literally huddle up like a football team. You watch as your teammates share how they're feeling about the fight, their keywords of emotion and intuition floating through the air for emphasis. Then, in a surprising, engaging implementation of "emotional intelligence" as a gameplay mechanic, you are tasked with choosing the most empathetic dialogue tree option; i.e., if the Guardians seem overly cocky, you would want to pick a piece of dialogue encouraging them to stay focused and humble. Pick the right option, and you go back into the battle with a brief, shimmery power-up of invulnerability and increased power — and a beyond-dope licensed tune kicks in on the soundtrack. I went through this rodeo multiple times and never once got sick of it; it gave me adrenaline and dopamine every single time, a perfect synthesis of interesting gameplay, emotional engagement, and, well, the goddamn New Kids on the Block.

There were some asteroid bumps felt during my time playing the intergalactic action-adventures offered by Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, moments that added undue frustration to what should've been a smooth, intuitive ride. Overall, however, I'm flying away with plenty of good vibes and excitement about continuing to make, and fight with, my space friends.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy comes to Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on October 26, 2021. This preview event was played on a PlayStation 5 controller through a remote computer system.

KEEP READING: 'Guardians of the Galaxy 3': James Gunn Says Mantis and Nebula Are Getting Bigger Roles in Sequel



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