Head to Head: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy vs. Age of Empires IV

Which Game Gives You The Biggest Bang for Your Buck?

There’s never enough time to play all the games you want, right? And there’s definitely never enough cash floating around to buy every game that gets released. You have to choose, and that’s how we can help. We’re going to look at two recent, highly-rated games and see if we can help you figure out which you should buy. You’re welcome. Now, because the games are from entirely different genres, you may think you already have a preference. Maybe you’re a strategy nerd and never touch action games. Maybe you just like ARPGs and think strategy games are boring and complicated. Well, we think moving out of your gaming comfort zone can be fun.

To help us with this first-ever, head-to-head matchup, we’re going to look at four categories: production values (art, graphics, and sound), mechanics and story, longevity and fun factor.


Both Guardians and AoE IV are pretty polished games with exceptional art design and graphics, excellent music and sound and overall AAA production values. Age of Empires IV has an impressive, documentary style campaign that looks like it was ripped from the History Channel, but its maps and unit design look very similar to that of prior titles in the franchise, albeit with more attention to detail. Guardians of the Galaxy is a knockout when it comes to graphics, character design, environments, motion capture and voice acting and it has both a musical score and dozens of effectively used licensed tracks from the 1980s. At least at launch, it had a few bugs, too, but overall in this category we have to give the nod to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but both games look very good.


Most real time strategy titles — including AoE IV — use story or a campaign mostly to introduce players to the mechanics of the game and allow the players to get to know the civilizations they will be playing in skirmishes against the computer or online. AoE IV has accessible mechanics that are very gradually and clearly introduced in the excellent campaign, and in general they are the definition of easy to learn, difficult to master. AoE IV’s four-chapter campaign does a great job of contextualizing the civilizations, history and heroic figures but there will be RTS veterans who skip it entirely just to get to competitive matches. Guardians of the Galaxy is, first and foremost, a story and character based game and propels the team of dysfunctional heroes through a 20 hour rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, humor, surprises and dramatic conflict. What surprised many people, though, is just how interesting and complex its combat mechanics turned out to be as you control the abilities of all five Guardians. Although I thought some of the battles were a little repetitive, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the clear winner here.


There are some games that are one and done, and although they may be great as long as they last, there’s no reason to return to them. Puzzle and mystery games, for instance, simply aren’t much fun the second time around when the puzzles have been solved and the mysteries aren’t so mysterious any more. Guardians of the Galaxy tells a pretty linear story, with some branching narrative points that definitely impact the game without entirely changing it, and it’s entertaining enough to warrant at least two or more playthroughs, just to catch all the secrets, collect all the costumes, and hear all the dialogue. Unless there’s some DLC down the line, though, Guardians probably has limits on return engagements. On the other hand, Age of Empires IV — like all great strategy games — in nearly infinitely replayable. With new civilizations and features releasing at regular intervals, AoE IV will stay new and challenging for years to come. It’s absolutely the winner in this category.


This is where things get tricky, because what’s fun for you might be a drag for me and we all know a game can have amazing production values and just not float our specific boat. So, I’ll say as just one person who plays a lot of games of all genres, I was always anxious to return to Guardians of the Galaxy and its engaging characters and well written story, but slightly less enthusiastic to play another match of AoE IV, even though I love the franchise and have played prior games for hundreds of hours. What’s the difference? AoE IV intentionally plays it very safe, making incremental improvements on a very well established formula, a template that is fun but one that felt very familiar. As for Guardians, although third person action and superhero games are absolutely nothing new, there aren’t very may good ones, and very few as effectively acted as this one, or as consistently surprising. For me the fun factor prize goes without question to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.


Both games retail for $59.99 US, so we can’t use price as a factor. Both games are great crossover experiences for fans of either genre, and although I can’t imagine anyone being truly disappointed by either title, there are diehard fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe fans who will miss the movie characters, and there are RTS devotees who think AoE IV is a little too conservative. Using our absolutely rock solid, unassailable metrics, however, we declare Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy the winner of this first match up.

What games would you like to see go head-to-head in our next match up? How would you have score these two games? Let us know!