So you’ve upped your PS Plus subscription.
I too took the plunge. Not fully, I only opted to move up to the middle tier, PlayStation Plus Extra. I wanted something on PlayStation that was more like Game Pass. The game collection offered from the Extra tier gets me close to that. I haven’t bought a game on PlayStation for ages so it’s an easy way for me to get back into the system and experience some games that I missed.
First on my list, after perusing the collection was Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Made by Eidos Montreal and Square Enix it’s one of the more recently released games in the collection. We’ve just got Stray as a day and date addition on its release date, but Guardians feels new enough to be a big name game for the service in my eyes. Yeah it’s on GP already and I could have played it there but I’ve got enough games to tide me over on the PC.
The first thing I’ll say about Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is it’s a slick experience. I’m enjoying the presentation across the game. It reeks of a high budget and that time was taken to test and refine the feel of the play and the user’s experience. I’ve no idea if this is true, yet combined with an absolutely kick ass soundtrack the dev team have excelled at that GotG tone.
I was expecting it to be more akin to the Avengers game Square Enix put out, the looter/shooter style of an MMO, or to have to constantly switch between characters to perform tasks and fight. I like that the player’s focus is on Peter, whilst giving commands to the other Guardians in fights and during exploration. Who knew a single player game could be a hit ehh, and on PlayStation to boot. Joking aside, Square Enix hasn’t had a good PR time of it lately with big budget flops, studio sales, and all the shite Web 3.0 chat. Guardians seems like a win and maybe one they didn’t take much advantage of.
The pacing of the game is well thought out and almost equal time is given to story vs combat vs exploration. This pace hasn’t had me feeling bored at all, although I am playing it in small 20 or 30 minute chunks with the very occasional hour or two session. The game is strongest when the characters are chatting. Both in the exploration areas and when back on the Milano. Their interactions provide good story points and allow a more personal set of conversations between the Guardians. Out and about the player will only be able to give responses as Peter, giving either response A or B. It’s another part of that tight character focus, which allows for some great exchanges. These conversations and some of the main story’s writing are great, being best when there’s a more aggressive or sarcastic back and forth between the team or the wider cast.
A slightly bum note on the writing is that the story feels all over the place. There is a central plot running through yet it flits about a lot between locations and to different characters. This has it feeling discontinued rather than expansive. It does make sense to provide different locations during each chapter but it’s getting a little too complicated and convoluted in its story. Some of the locations feel used just as different backgrounds for extended combat sections.
Another slight criticism for me is the combat. A focus on Peter is great and generally, combat is twitchy enough not to get boring. Like the story, however, it starts to get complicated. Providing the option of giving the team orders makes sense for the style of play the game has. The ‘attack’ then perform special moves, all on cooldowns is tried and tested and this has a familiar loop, stagger or stun an enemy then blow them to holy hell. It becomes a lot though when each character has three moves to choose from, all with different abilities. It is easy for a little choice paralysis to creep in. Keeping track of all these move and the different enemy types, especially with my shorter play sessions, is difficult. My combat encounters are a mess rather than a more coherent fight from an experienced team as the Guardians are. Something more akin to Transistor where combat can be paused for a set of moves to be implemented and then undertaken would have worked well here. That would take away from the more action feel of the game but I think for the better.
Finally, let’s talk about Music. GotG has one of the best licensed soundtracks of a game in years. Every song is a banger and their implementation as both background music on the Milano and for Peter putting in his headphones during combat plays up to that Guardians tone. The frantic, chaotic combat played out to Kickstart My Heart or Hit Me With Your Best Shot enhances the mood of those encounters. It adds to the combat so much that even with its complicated play it is really enjoyable. The licensed song span 80s genres and there will be something everyone knows. As with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and the new season of Stranger Things for Kate Bush, it will introduce players to new artists and an expansive range of music. There is also a full metal album produced for the game from the fictional band Star Lord (sounds familiar). This heavier set of songs balances out some of the lighter licensed songs for more edge and a thumping combat experience.
I’m really enjoying GotG even with my criticisms. I’ve no idea how far through the convoluted story I am, or if combat will get more complicated the more moves I unlock. I’ll bear through though to experience the journey and the building of those relationships between the team whilst bopping along with Peter.