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    Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy review

    Need to know

    What is it? A single-player space adventure full of moral choices.
    Expect to pay: $60/£50
    Developer: Eidos Montreal
    Publisher: Square Enix
    Reviewed on: Windows 10, GeForce GTX 1070, Intel Core i7-9700 CPU, 16GB RAM
    Multiplayer? No
    Release date: October 26
    Link: Official site (opens in new tab)

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    I did not expect to root for Guardians of the Galaxy this much. It was weighed down by so many stagnant vibes during its pre-release cycle. The shadow of Marvel’s Avengers, Square Enix’s 2020 attempt to transmute the total media superiority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into a living co-op videogame, loomed particularly large. That game’s cast of Hollywood facsimiles—all of these fake Chris Hemsworths—left customers ice cold, and while the core narrative was decent, nobody enjoyed the meaningless currency grind.

    Guardians comes from the same publisher and appears to be made of the same stock, except that this time, it’s a singleplayer-only campaign and the player is restricted to the least interesting member of the troupe, Star-Lord. There is a pervasive focus-tested coldness that corrodes so many products that bear the Marvel name in 2021, and I wasn’t optimistic that Eidos Montreal would be capable of overcoming the taint.

    (Image credit: Square Enix)

    This makes Guardians of the Galaxy a difficult game to recommend right now. Something clearly went awry during development, because it’s weird for a singleplayer, linear game to have so many bizarre performance issues. This level of jank is expected in the high-entropy continent of Tamriel, not in a series of combat arenas and connective tissue. The closest analogue I can think of is Jedi Fallen Order; another Disney property that shipped with a well-hewn narrative, some neat combat tricks, and a boatload of sundering technical hangups. Unfortunately, I don’t think Guardians is quite good enough to offset those problems the way Respawn did.

    But then I think back to a sequence early on, where Star-Lord runs into an old drinking buddy named Lipless at a slimy dive bar in Knowhere. The two of you fumble through a turgid hair-metal anthem that, apparently, the hero was too blacked-out to remember writing. The player chooses each line in the song, and Star-Lord does his best to half-mumble the lyrics to stay on Lipless’ good side. Guardians of the Galaxy desperately wants to be a technicolor, starfaring adventure worthy of the multimedia powerhouse that shares its namesake. It accomplishes that with its story, its voice cast, and its wonderfully cheeky ’80s pastiche. If only the technical side could better keep up with those ambitions.

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