Eidos Montreal’s character-packed comedic adventures served as our list of favorite in-game characters this year. For more rewards, visit our GOTY Pole 2021, which we will update throughout the month of December.
Fraser Brown, online editor: My love for Guardians of the Galaxy makes me feel very basic – a great Marvel action game with jokes, what a novelty! – but I can’t help myself. It’s an incredibly entertaining jaunt through colorful alien planets, cop-infested spaceships, and a city that chills out inside the cosmic god’s skull, elevated beyond a popcorn-munching diversion by the Guardians themselves.
Star Lord is a man-child at the head of a squad of bickering and disrespecting semi-reformed criminals. He’s the only member of the Guardians you will directly control, and initially you’re a bit of a punching bag. But during the 3-hour adventure, the team becomes a support system, helping each other overcome trauma in genuinely heartwarming and heartbreaking times. And when things threaten to get sickening and sentimental, there’s bound to be a joke or a fight to give you time to dry your tears.
It’s very 2021, a comedic action game that’s secretly a great therapy session. These different sides never overlap either – everything is holistic. When you’re exploring a planet or fighting space cops, Guardians are always chatting, bonding, working through shit, or throwing meme-like racing gags. The heroes in training and their punchy dialogue might be the highlight, but it also makes everything else so much better. I’ve been a fan of it all since they first teamed up in 2008, but maybe the best they’ve ever been.
Morgan Park, editor: Guardians is basically an Uncharted game with better characters. All the enjoyable hours spent pulling, climbing and walking are really just sponges for hours of engaging and fun chatting with teammates. I love that even in the midst of a firefight or a dangerous climb, Guardians makes you an active participant in every conversation with binary dialogue choices mapped to LB / RB. Not all choices impact the mission, but you often set the vibe of the group with your contribution as a leader. In a short time, keeping everyone’s morale up became just as important to me as shooting straight.
I was scratching my head alongside a lot when Eidos revealed that Guardians was entirely solo and Starlord was the only playable character, but this limitation does wonders for its story and gameplay. In addition to kicking each other in battle, the four teammates serve as conduits for powerful abilities that play into their personalities: Drax stuns so Gamora can kill, Rocket blows everything up for massive area damage, and Groot is the healer / crowd control specialist.
Looks like Eidos really made the most of a bunch of famous characters who are mostly defined by great personalities. With numerous comics and two popular films to compete with, making the Guardians distinctive for a game couldn’t have been an easy task. I certainly didn’t expect to come out of this game with the itch to open my first Guardians comic. As someone who has never cared about the world or the characters of Deus Ex, I am very impressed that Eidos has created a better version of the Guardians than the MCU could ever dream of.
Jody Macgregor, AU / Weekend Editor: Here is Morgan Park, murdered by Deus Ex fans, 2021. Guardians of the Galaxy has a much better build and writing than Mankind Divided, however. It reminds me of how the Arkham games took inspiration from both the cartoons and comedic depictions of the cast of Batman, a true combo of the best of both worlds. Cosmo the space dog and Lady Hellbender are straight out of the comics, as is Mantis being able to see the future, while Drax speaks without a metaphor, like in the movies – he even has a copy of Sarcasm For. Dummies. (Unrelated, but his pecs have a shaking physique, and that’s awesome, too.)
Well done to the cast, made up mainly of Canadian television and film actors who seem to have been mobilized to do the dubbing. The conversation never ends, with characters bouncing on top of each other without any of those awkward pauses and screaming like kids in an 80s movie, and I never got tired of hearing it. Damn, I got annoyed every time I accidentally walked past an arbitrary point and triggered the next conversation before the last one was over.