Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy

PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series


Developer Eidos Montreal Publisher Square Enix

Format PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series Origin Canada Release October 26

Credit to Mary DeMarle, Guardians Of The Galaxy’s executive narrative director, for avoiding the wishy-washy, noncommitt­al answer you might expect. “I would pick Guardians 1,” she says, hesitating for all of two seconds before giving her clear response to the obvious question. “I think it was because it was my introducti­on to the characters. I went to the movie not knowing what to expect and fell in love with it right from the beginning, with Star-Lord kicking the rats and playing his music as he’s stealing the orb. It’s unpredicta­ble, it’s fun; these characters are zany, they have a heart. So that one was my favourite.”

Even so, we do wonder if Square Enix considered calling this ‘Vol 2’. This isn’t, after all, the Guardians’ first videogame rodeo, even if Telltale’s game felt like a bit of a missed opportunit­y: the bickering and sniping we associate with this band of galactic misfits may have been in the studio’s wheelhouse, but its colourful action was limited to the usual simplistic QTEs.

The set-pieces here, on the other hand, crescendo in a way that’s reminiscen­t of the delightful introducti­on to the second film, in which the title characters fight a tentacled alien to the strains of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky. Eidos Montreal’s game captures that wit and energy, not least through the ’80s hits that sound out when your team gauge peaks: the likes of Wham, Blondie and Iron Maiden supply some of the classics from whose lyrics Star-Lord will cobble together a speech in an attempt to boost his colleagues. “You have to read the reactions of the team to see how they are,” DeMarle explains. “Are they in need of being boosted up? Or are they too hyped and they need to calm down? You have to make the choice to either cheer them up or tell them, ‘OK, focus, guys’.” Nail the right tone and their combat abilities will all be boosted. Fail to inspire your friends and only you will gain a temporary buff.

Part of the reason, she says, for having Peter Quill as the game’s protagonis­t was the studio’s history in singleplay­er story-driven games. But she says it was also a creative choice: to lean into the fantasy of being right at the heart of this “group of oddballs” and dealing with their natural unpredicta­bility. It’s not just about branching narrative paths, though you’ll find those here, too, as you’re invited to make the deciding call on group decisions or follow one Guardian’s advice at the cost of upsetting another.

“We’re also very aware that we’re dealing with an ensemble cast here,” DeMarle adds. “Each of these characters is important, so they also have their story arcs through the game. [They’ve] been together for a little bit of time, but not long enough to really gel yet – and Peter doesn’t really know how to be a leader yet.” It’s a setup that allows the game to blend storytelli­ng and systems, as you steadily learn how to harness their strengths in combat, and figure out the most devastatin­g combinatio­ns of abilities. Whether, as DeMarle bullishly puts it, the game “redefines solo teamplay” remains to be seen, but it’s rare to have such a degree of control over three AI characters in realtime while directly controllin­g a fourth. Running, jumping and knee-sliding around enemies while picking out instructio­ns to yell out to the other Guardians sounds like a lot to keep track of, but it seems to flow fairly effortless­ly.

The equivalent of Guardians 2’s Abilisk, then – at least for DeMarle and her writing team – is how to sustain that dysfunctio­nal family dynamic for the duration of a videogame rather than a two-hour film. “Hitting that [balance] so that they’re still dysfunctio­nal, but they’re growing together, that becomes a really interestin­g challenge. And then with the amount of banter that we’re writing in this game, coming up with new ways to do it, and new themes and things for them to hit on – that becomes a very big challenge, too.” Given what the studio previously achieved with an existing property in Deus Ex, you wouldn’t bet against it vanquishin­g that particular beast – and in doing so, there’s a chance it could yet deliver Marvel’s best videogame to date.

“Each of these characters is important, so they have their story arcs through the game”

 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia