The characters in this adventure are a far cry from your average comic book superheroes, but this is a must-play game instead of your average comic book superhero one. Much as the Guardians are a motley crew that shouldn't work together but somehow do, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is similarly made up of a lot of wildly different elements that shouldn't work together but somehow do. The game takes an interactive story and mixes in fast-paced action shooting combined with layers of strategy, a healthy dose of puzzle solving and exploration, a touch of arcade space flight, and more fan service and nostalgia than you can shake a Walkman at. Best of all, it manages to deftly balance all of this diverse content in a way that flows naturally from one thing to the next and never takes away from the immersive Guardians experience.
One big surprise is that, despite being a team game, players control only Star-Lord directly. This makes sense in the story portions, as players, through Peter's eyes, make the key decisions to steer the course of the tale while interacting with the rest of the crew, learning more about their backstories and building real bonds. Combat can take a little getting used to. Players run, jump, slide, punch, and, most importantly, shoot their way through swarms of enemies in standard third-person fare. The twist comes in activating Guardian mode, selecting a teammate, and choosing one of their special abilities to use in tandem with Star-Lord's attacks. It seems overwhelming at first, but the game eases the player into it and, before long, they're operating as a single unit, pulling off massive combos of spectacular destruction. Add to all of this a kicking soundtrack of classic hits, a deep dive into the lexicon of Marvel history, and enough Easter eggs to keep fans of the comics and the '80s era in general enthralled, and you've got a must-play adventure as good as, if not better than, a big-screen blockbuster.