26th June 2023: Caretakers Of The Space Place
Still working through my PS4 games, and the latest one to join the completed list is Guardians Of The Galaxy from a couple of years back.
The game sees Quill and the rest of the gang out to stop a powerful and malevolent entity that has been released from the soul stone.
Overall my experience with this game was very mixed. For probably two thirds of the game I was very frustrated with the gameplay, until my ancient brain finally started to catch up with the sheer amount of buttons and button combos that were required and I finally started to get into it a bit more.
Of course, it didn't help my anger levels by being a shooter game that I was having to use a controller for. Yes, I've had that whinge a million times, but it's never going to change. And what was worse in this game was the weird acceleration curve on the analogue sticks. The turn rate of the camera didn't seem to speed up while pushing the stick further, until getting nearly to maximum, when the turn speed would rocket right up. Irritating.
And the load times. Sheesh, the load times. What was all that about? I know I've not got an SSD in my PS4, but I don't think I've ever had to wait so long for a game to load since I used to play on my old ZX Spectrum back in the 80s. Even dying and restarting a fight, which should be fresh in the console's memory, would take just as long. I almost had time to go and make a coffee on each reload.
The QTEs also boggled my brain at times. When I've played a game with QTEs in the past, the idea is usually to hit that button as fast as possible when you see the prompt appear. But here, that would often see you fail the task. Instead, you have to wait until the exact moment. It just flew in the face of QTE mechanics I was used to.
The combat in the game can quickly get chaotic. I didn't find it too bad when fighting against one tough enemy like a boss, but when there were loads of weak to medium enemies all over the screen my brain and fingers really did struggle to keep up. Only later in the game when muscle memory had started to form did I begin to find it easier and more enjoyable.
I think my main issue was with my team mates, who don't really do anything unless you tell them what to do. It was also annoying that, whenever one of them is knocked down, the others will expect you to go and help them out rather than doing it themselves. And then when you get knocked down it's game over, with your team given no option to come and help you at all.
Definitely needed to be more like the Ghostbusters 2009 game, where the other Ghostbusters did their part helping out if someone got taken down.
As a last kick in the teeth, the penultimate boss fight against a guy called Raker even bugged out and wouldn't continue, so I had to do the whole thing all over again.
So what about the story? This is a game based on Marvel comics after all. Could the game excel in this area?
Well, unfortunately, I found it very middling here as well. While I really liked the characters, especially how they got better at working together as the game went on, I found the plot kind of "meh" and the villains very very weak indeed. I was not aware of the game's main villain, Magus, before this game, and hopefully I'll never encounter him again. He was just an angry mass of black swirling weirdness, who was using some dumb religious nutjobs to try and bring about an end to the universe.
Simply not that entertaining.
As to whether I would play this again, or recommend it to anyone else: probably not, unless you're a huge Marvel fan, or enjoy 3rd person shooters.
Over the passed few months, a game we have attempted is ToeJam & Earl: Back In The Groove. I have very vague memories of playing an old game in this series on Scoob's Mega Drive way back in the day, and we were both up for re-visiting these weird characters.
In this game, which is essentially a remake of that old original one, you play as aliens who have crashed on Earth. You must then traverse floating islands to find all the pieces of your damaged space ship, so that you can get the hell off this weird rock.
I'm sure I'm not the only one to do this, but often I remember old things being better than they were. Unfortunately, this game turned out to be much the same.
It didn't help that the tutorial world kept bugging out on us, so we were forced to go into the full game without really knowing what we were doing. Sure, I could have scoured the internet for the manual (which I later ended up doing, not that it helped), but I didn't fancy doing that at first.
Our adventures into the main game's "fixed" world started much brighter. Though we still didn't know what we were doing, we got to level 17 of 25 without actually losing any lives. However, somewhere around here, the game's difficulty spiked like crazy, and we were both dead by the time we got to level 19. As neither of us particularly fancied giving it another go, our adventures stopped there.
I can't speak for Scoob, but I got super frustrated by the end, just by how fast the enemies moved compared to the player characters. And by the later stages of the game, if any enemy touched you, they would take off a good 90% of your life bar.
The thing that definitely annoyed us both was the way the split-screen was implemented. Even when I switched the option to fixed, it would still work in this weird dynamic way where player 1 would sometimes be on top of the screen, and sometimes at the bottom, depending on where the two characters were in the level.
So this might not be a game that I ever finish, but that doesn't matter. It was just a freebie from Epic Games after all, and we used it solely to re-visit our childhoods for a few hours.