Beating the Backlog: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
It's taken some time, but I got around to checking out Eidos Montreal's action-adventure game, and boy am I glad I did.
If there's one thing that truly unites all gamers, it's having an enormous backlog of video games to complete. If anything, this has become less of luxury in the present thanks to the many, many available subscription services that offer up vast catalogues of titles to play at a far more reasonable price tag than if you bought each game individually. But while the plentiful array of options is pleasant, there's just never enough hours in the day to truly check out everything. Hence, the formation of the backlog.
Which brings me to this very article, or rather the start of a new series of articles. With this summer being rather barren when it comes to new game releases, there's really no better time than the present to work through that backlog, and that's precisely what I've been doing as of late. I'm going to be chronicling my journey, with a new article each week, and I'm kicking things off with a relatively new game; Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, a title that debuted back in October last year, and yet despite that, has taken me around seven months to get round to beating it - and boy, am I glad I did.
Because this game is truly stellar. Anyone who knows Marvel, be that through the comic books or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will know by this point who the Guardians of the Galaxy are, and what sorts of wacky, cosmic adventures they find themselves on. This isn't a group of heroes that are as intelligent, powerful, as compassionate and truly morally good as the Avengers are. No, this is a team that has friction, a team who irritate each other, will insult and undermine each other, but at the same time, do anything to protect any member of the group: aka a family. And what the developer, Eidos Montreal has done is serve up an experience that checks all of these boxes, and also refuses to skimp on the subtle and hilarious humour that the Guardians have become known for.
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You may not get the opportunity to play as each individual Guardian, but that's handled really well, as the game uses Star-Lord as a central pillar and builds the narrative and the rest of the team, and the way you interact with them around him. It gives you a true sense of the responsibility that Peter Quill finds on his shoulders all the time, as it's up to you to lead the rest of the Guardians, to keep them in good spirits, and to coordinate them in battle, all while minding what you say and do as the leader.
The combat is also handled in such a way where you never really have to worry about what the Guardians are doing. You can shoot, punch, kick, and generally cause chaos as Quill, and then when the need arises, call out to Gamora or Drax to focus their efforts on a particular target and use a crowd-control or a high-damage ability. And this sort of gameplay stretches to exploration as well, as you'll need to guide Rocket into small spaces to reach new areas, or tell Groot to create a bridge that the rest of the team can travel over. It's all handled very well.
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But these gameplay systems aren't why I've fallen in love with this game. Rather it's the storyline, the narrative, and the complex relationship between the Guardians and the supporting cast that they meet and usually terrorise. Between Quill and Rocket's ability to get under the skin and thoroughly annoy anyone, to Drax's dry and literal sense of humour that always catches you off guard, Eidos Montreal has captured the essence of this team perfectly, and that even extends to the character designs as well, which made for a lot of criticism when the game was originally unveiled.
But the point is, as far as an action-adventure game goes, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the better ones as of late, and is perhaps one of the best games that arrived last year altogether. And in my eyes, that's a rather impressive feat, especially when considering the absolute botched job that was Marvel's Avengers, another Marvel video game coming from publisher Square Enix (granted that was handled by Crystal Dynamics instead). I think it would be fair to say that the sour aftertaste left by Marvel's Avengers affected the standing of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy to some degree, and I'd go as far as saying that it did play into why it took me so long to get around to playing this in the first place.
Still, as I said earlier, I'm glad I did, because the weekend I spent engrossed in this title, the weekend I clocked around 15 hours in just this game, ended up being a weekend truly well spent. Not only did this game give me faith in future projects like this, but it also made me realise why I used to truly love the Marvel brand, something that has slipped away a bit over the last couple of years due to generally forgettable and unimportant Marvel series and projects. Considering you can check out Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy on Game Pass (both PC and Xbox) today, I would highly recommend doing so, as I can almost guarantee it won't disappoint.