I have finally gotten my hands on a copy of this medieval RTS Simulation game after it being wishlisted since its initial pre-release announcement. The reviews have been a mixed bag of tricks from the start so I wanted to give Firefly Studios plenty of time to bang out any kinks in the ol' armor before launching my assault and possibly bludgeoning this game into fragmented code. After a lengthy (and sometimes exhausting) battle, the dust has settled and as my gaze reflects upon the still-burning fires, the blood-soaked desert sands, and the rubbled remains of what once was a towering and majestic castle, I muster up the strength to utter a few last words with my last breath fading away - "I strongly recommend this game..."
Ok, so why the mixed reviews?
A couple of reasons. First, this is an expensive game even after being released for almost a year. Not uncommon for many AAA titles, but let's face it - this is Steam and the majority of Steam users are known for pinching pennies and expecting everything on the cheap. Not totally unreasonable and for those who pay the hefty full price for this game, I understand why there may be some mixed feelings about it. The game is good, has a lot to offer, and is entertaining. But at the same time, there are a few bugs and issues in it still and don't appear to be getting fixed any time soon. They aren't necessarily being ignored though and Firefly Studios is still actively working on the game and new content for it. Keep in mind, Stronghold Crusader 2 is a AAA title and its normal for periodical updates to be released as major patches that address many things at once rather than a multitude of weekly updates that may address one specific element as seen with smaller indie-type games.
Many gamers who have played the original Stronghold Crusader before grabbing this long awaited sequel have been openly critical because the graphics are only slightly improved after more than a decade. Stronghold Crusader is very similar to the original, in fact, almost identical at first glance. But there are some differences - new units (and special abilities added to others), a modified economic system, a change in the housing dynamic, co-op mode for multiplayer games, an automated purchase/sell system added to the market, weather/natural disaster random events, some new AI characters (and more planned as future DLC), troop formations added and improved, and a few other changes or removed content from the original (such as the removal of moats and feasts). However, for the most part, Stronghold Crusader 2 is identical to its predecessor at a much loftier price so it draws a lot of criticism for this. So why would I give this game my recommendation?
I review games individually based on their own content and whether they offer up gaming enjoyment to its players. This game is a lot of fun and has plenty to offer. The graphics are 3-D, unlike the original Crusader game. They will not leave you with that "wow" feeling, but they are still solid and detailed for a real-time strategy sim. The soundtrack to this game is a harmonic masterpiece that injects the player with a true sense of the environment and time period. There are several different game modes and each of them offer a numerous amount of gameplay. Hundreds of hours can be spent playing without ever trying out each one. There are a multitude of buildings that can be built and a nice variety of units available. A map editor has been included for easily creating and sharing your own designs with the Steam Community. And don't forget the most popular feature - Castle Building. This is what really makes the crusader series so great. Its one of the best castle building systems in gaming and while slightly different from previous versions, it still performs smoothly and allows for simple and fun creativity to give your kingdom its own personal touch.
In Stronghold Crusader 2 players will need to gather resources for building structures, creating weapons to train armed units, and produce enough food to support the populus. Fortifying your base is an important aspect as well, so players will want to protect their kingdom with castle walls and defensive structures like towers and traps. Naturally, you will need an army to defend your kingdom and attack your opponents. Each troop type requires specific weapons or armor to be crafted first and also have a price in gold. Gold can be earned by collecting taxes or by selling excess goods on the market. Troops can also be purchased from a mercenary post with gold. Governing your kingdom is very basic. It is based on overall happiness and there are several ways players can influence this statistic positively or negatively. To claim victory you must simply defeat all of the opposing lords on the map.
Stronghold Crusader 2 is packed full of gameplay content offered in a variety of game modes to ensure countless hours of entertainment. They include single player, co-op and multiplayer options. There are a variety of customization settings available to adjust the level of difficulty a player wishes to encounter, configure for team play, and map selection (in some cases). Computer AI players can be substituted or added in place of additional human players and each AI character has its own habits, strengths, and weaknesses that also influence how challenging the game will be.Learning Campaigns -
Tutorial campaigns that play out as a campaign while progressively teaching the game's concepts.Skirmish Trails -
A chain of skirmishes versus AI characters that increase in difficulty as you progress.Custom Skirmish -
Up to 8 players and team play. Players can be human or AI. Custom settings including map selection.Sandbox -
Build your mighty kingdom in peace and without fear of being attacked from any opponents.Multiplayer -
Players can either join a server from the list or host their own game and can be played individually or as teams. There is also a simple in-game text chat available by pressing "Enter."Community Maps -
Skirmish maps designed by the Steam Community.
The Good:+ Challenging gameplay
+ Solid 3-D graphics
+ Excellent soundtrack and quality voice acting
+ Simple controls and a smooth user interface
+ Beginner's tutorial included
+ Multiple customization settings
+ Variety of game types available
+ Many distinctive units with their own abilities/uses
+ Nice selection of buildings and resources
+ Great castle building system
+ Custom map editor included
+ Steam Trading Cards & Achievements
+ Some DLC content added for free
+ Continued development and support post-release
+ No heavy CPU strain for systems mid-range or above
The Bad:- Very expensive at full price
- Still contains some minor bugs. (Not game breaking)
- The graphics are stale and unimpressive for modern gamers
- Updates are periodic so fixes and improvements are not quickly available
Stronghold Crusader 2 is a very entertaining medieval RTS castle-building simulation that is packed with gameplay and will continue to get better with time as more content is added. However, it does come at a considerable price. I recommend this game to all RTS lovers, but if you're on a tight gaming budget then i would wishlist it and wait for a sale. In the meantime, you might also consider buying the original Stronghold Crusader game to get a taste of the crusader experience.If you liked this review or want to see more recommended games, be sure to follow our curator group: Follow Original Curator Group