Platforms: PC | PS3 | PS4 | Wii U | Xbox 360 | Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Avalanche Software | Ninja Theory (combat)
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Guardians Of The Galaxy deserves a good game. This isn't it.
We were initially thrilled at the news that Disney Infinity 2.0 would be doing the heavy lifting when it came to Guardians' movie tie-in. Instead of a terrible Activision-published atrocity, we were promised a lengthy piece of fanservice including high quality miniatures and production values, boasting a story from none other than Brian Michael Bendis himself, available for £15 alongside the Star-Lord and Gamora figures. What a fantastic idea.
And what horrible execution. Disney Infinty 2.0 ultimately triumphs despite its issues, but the Guardians Of The Galaxy playset is one of the worst games I've suffered through in years. Other sites seem to have included this expansion in their reviews for the base game, but I'd like to discuss what is effectively a DLC pack in detail so you can be forewarned against throwing bad money after good.
Or, in other words, buy the Rocket Raccoon figure and steer clear of this sorry shovelware.
Let's get this train wreck rolling. Instead of telling a sidestory set after the events of the film, the playset bizarrely opts to completely retcon and butcher the movie's premise into a tedious 2-4 hour slog set in a single location: Knowhere. Apparently the Dark Aster is attacking the station and it's up to the Guardians to save the day by completing mundane chores and turret sections.
However, lacking Gunn's script, the original voice cast and unable to retain what little edge the 12A classification granted the flick, the resulting monstrosity sucks out all the personality, wit and fun of the film, replacing it with dire amateurish cutscenes, a howlingly stupid storyline (apparently The Collector is the main franchise hero now?) and characters so bland you'll start wondering if the development team ever watched the film all the way through. It's like watching a pre-school rendition of the movie, even though its original target audience are twelve and above.
Thunderingly idiotic premise established, you're then shoved into an overly large slab of grey space station and tasked with killing three varieties of enemy (and a couple of turrets) in interminable arena combat, performing awful instant-fail escort objectives as Yondu decides to drive a mining pod around (because... no, really, I have no idea), taking part in some of the most boring and soggy turret sections ever coded and finally boarding the Dark Aster for the most pathetic boss battle of all time.
You shoot a shield dome... which makes sparks fly out... and then Ronan The Accuser explodes for no reason at all. Why did Avalanche make no attempt to emulate the most memorable moments of the film? Why did they not just try to flesh out the Knowhere scenes? Who is this playset actually for? As it is, we spend an hour lugging around 'fuel cores' and throwing them into switches, babysitting the world's slowest and most fragile defensive objective and then trying to insert Gamora's sword as far into our nose as possible in order to erase those awful memories [seriously don't try that at home, though - Ed]. The whole thing feels like a thankless chore. Trust me, kids are savvier than most give them credit for (think back to when we were younger!) and will tire of this very quickly. They deserve better, as do you.
The reliance on combat and precision jumping continually shows up Disney Infinity 2.0's sub-par mechanics, the frame rate judders in fits and spurts, the graphics are drab and fuzzy even on the new consoles, while the difficulty curve is utterly macabre. I've never seen anything like it: one moment you'll be fighting yet another small horde of boring recycled henchmen, the next you'll suddenly be forced to pull off some insane precision jumps over a death pit while holding a key, with your only platform being a whirling electrical cheesegrater that stun-locks you and seriously did you even playtest this, Avalanche?!
On the plus side, the two included miniatures are of excellent quality, despite being the least visually engaging of all the characters in the movie. Star-Lord brings dual pistols and can be upgraded with an emphasis on super jumps and gadgetry, while Gamora steals the show. Her voice actor phones it in, but her blisteringly fast attack speed, viable ranged weaponry and unlockable ability to lift objects (or enemies!) of any size make her a truly versatile character once upgraded. She really is "the most dangerous woman in the universe."
The unlockable Toybox content is also excellent, but it's not really worth slogging through the story to complete. There are so few extra features here even after free-roam is unlocked, loosing you into a great big empty wasteland with a few aggravating vehicle challenges and the option to replay those feedback-less, turgid, insulting turret sequences. Just to add insult to injury, you'll keep running into special Rocket Raccoon events that promise fun-filled firearm showdowns and shooting challenges. Which would be great... if Rocket Raccoon was actually included in the box.
I appreciate that selling fan-favourite characters separately is good business, but it hits us fans and consumers square in the wallet. Whether starry-eyed kids or hardcore fans, we all primarily want to play as Rocket Raccoon and Groot, both of whom are the most highly requested, visually interesting and favourite characters in the entire movie (let alone the comics).
Having been given a Groot figurine at Gamescom 2014 for review purposes, I can report that he boasts unique ranged skills and root abilities that makes him feel totally different -- if somewhat underpowered at low levels -- to the rest of the cast... but we've got to pay even more for the privilege. Worse still, just to rub it in, the Rocket model is by far the most detailed and impressive in the entire Infinity 2.0 range.
But every cloud has a silver lining. Regardless of whether you're shelling out for your kids or you're an older fan of Guardians Of The Galaxy, you can buy the Rocket Raccoon and Groot figures and call it a day - either using them with Disney Infinity 2.0's toybox mode or just giving them pride of place on your shelf.
- Some cool unlockable toybox content
- Gamora is a versatile and viable character
- Robust and reasonable miniature quality
- Campaign is utterly awful in every way imaginable
- All personality, humour and soul ripped out
- Rocket Raccoon... AND Groot... sold separately!
The Short Version: "It's just for kids" is no excuse for terrible shovelware, and Guardians Of The Galaxy has received some of the worst we've seen in years. Packing a tragically lazy campaign and lacking the fan-favourite figures that most will actually want, there's no reason to buy this playset beyond the toybox content, solid miniature quality and Gamora's admittedly impressive swordplay.
Disney Infinity 2.0 is well worth a look, but do your best to stay away from this grasping little chore.