Guardians of the Galaxy makes its video game debut with The Universal Weapon

Marvel's galactic super hero team Guardians of the Galaxy is heading to theaters Aug. 1, but the franchise's video game debut hits today with Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon.

In The Universal Weapon, players cobble together a team of guardians and do battle in real-time.The game includes six intergalactic worlds and more than 60 levels for players to explore, as well as an Arena Mode and story-driven Battle Mode. Although the game is available shortly before the movie's release, producer Aaron Norstad said The Universal Weapon will introduce its own unique story that draws more heavily from Marvel's comics.

"We started the game before we knew anything about the film, other than the release date," Norstad told Polygon. "We knew from the beginning that although we were going to strategically plan to launch the same time as the film, we knew that we didn't want to be the game that was the same storyline as the film."

Similarly, The Universal Weapon won't pull a specific story from existing comics, either. The narrative fits into what Norstad calls a "parallel time frame" to the movie.

"It's sort of another kind of offshoot of a story that draws references to and from the film, but is different," he said.

Players will start off with only the leader of the Guardians, Star-Lord. As they progress, they'll pick up new characters, including the other four guardians Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket.

"We wanted it to be deep gameplay with a lot of characters," Norstad said. "Certainly the universe is so rich in terms of the characters to draw upon, but we knew the core gameplay had to be about five guardians first and foremost."

Each character will have their own special abilities to use in battle, and players can mix and match accordingly. The producer used Groot, the team's tree-like companion, as an example. Although Groot fits into a tank role, he can also act as a healer early in the game.

"One of the things we really doubled down with was the variety and the depth of characters in terms of the skills and abilities they have, but then also in terms of the broad variety of characters," Norstad said.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon is available for $4.99 on Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices.

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