This is a long review, so if you want a brief summary of why I recommend Stronghold Crusader skip to Results and read from there.
Firefly Studies strikes again with the best Stronghold game in the series. Stronghold Crusader is a brilliant game that mixes Castle Simulation with RTS combat, and resource management. Story:
As the title depicts Stronghold Crusader takes place in the Crusades. You play through the Asia minor, The Middle East, as Europeans and Arabians alike. The story takes place across four campaigns where you start your journey as Emporer Alexus of the Turkish Army commands you to take ahold of Asia Minor. You spread European influence across the land, but it is short lived as the Salidan rises to power and destroys the settlements of the Europeans and claims back the lands. Unfortunately for him the crusades were not over, and the Germanic armies arrive deploying castles across Asia minor as they claim lay to the holy lands. Stronghold Crusader takes place across the first to third crusades and then creates an alternate reality that is the post-crusade wars that pit you against your worst nightmare: The Rat, The Snake, The Pig, and The Wolf. Campaign:
Stronghold Crusader has four campaigns which teach you how to play the game from the basics to the most advanced.
The Call to Arms
Call to Arms offers five basic missions which although simple are in fact challenging in their own rights. The first mission encompasses basic castle siege, the second basic defense, the third resource management, the fourth resource massing, and the final one a more complicated castle siege. This campaign is a great way to start into the Stronghold Series as it introduces the elements of gameplay in an interesting way that keeps you entertained. Typical tutorials are rather uninteresting, but Call to Arms changes that by providing dynamic missions that introduce the game with diverse scenarios.
After the conquest of Call to Arms you pick up the campaign as Salidan who is retaking the land stolen by the Europeans. All the missions in Salidan’s Conquest are sieges; these involve taking castles from the enemy. All of Salidans missions are rather simple, yet offer diversity in how you conquer your foe. You are limited on units and must use unique units to push through the enemy defenses.
The Kings Crusade
After the Salidan has kicked out most of Europe the quest continues as the third crusade picks up and its up to the Europeans to hold off their fortresses from the Salidans onslaughts. The Kings Crusade mostly focuses on castle building and defense, similar to Mission 4 of The Call to Arms. Each level provides new features which give you a better mechanism to defend you castle and equip you against an ever stronger foe until you eventually must siege castle and rebuild it from the ground up.
The campaign begins after the third crusade and is a fictitious rendition of what we expected after the Third Crusade ended. You play in the Middle East as lord’s squalor over various lands and it is up to you to defeat your foes. Your mission through the Middle East pits you against the foes of the past: The Rat, The Snake, The Pig, and The Wolf. The further you get into the campaign the more enemies you get pit against. Gameplay:
Stronghold Crusader is noted as being the best Stronghold game; it took what was good from the original and expanded upon it beautifully. Stronghold Crusader is a castle simulation game, where you manage a castle politically, economically, and sociologically. You must maintain various food types, keep your people happy, while simultaneously ripping them dry for every penny they have. You need to build a well-oiled machine, but unlike most strategy games Stronghold has many resources. To build units you must obtain gold, you must build their weapons, you must provide peasant, you must feed them with various food stocks, and you must obtain the resources required to build those weapons. For all of this to occur you must keep peasants within your castle by making sure they are happy, once they start to leave your castle will crumble from within before your enemies even hit your walls.
Stronghold Crusader takes that and incorporates mercenaries, units which cost gold and require less work to obtain. Of course they cost almost triple that of a non-hired unit, but offer quick turn-around. Not only did they add mercenaries, but they included Skirmishes with AI, which allow you to play the game without playing the campaign. The AI is rather intelligent and will keep you on your toes, and not only that but the maps are designed to require intense combat. This game will make you fight over limited agrarian land and low wood stocks. Hints:
>When you start a map drop the gamespeed to 20, this gives you loads of time to set yourself up before the match really begins.
>When playing the crusader states the game gives you sometimes up to 7.5k gold, if you drop the game-speed to 20 and place a market you can buy Maces and Leather Armor. Then quickly build an army of Macemen to take out your foes before the match can even begin. This does not work on all missions, but certainly helps.
>Bread is the easiest food to build-up. If you are trying to optimize limited farmland use wheat as its easy to mass. Results:
Stronghold Crusader is the best castle simulation game out there right now. It offers the joy of castle simulation with the intensities of combat. I would recommend this game to anyone who is thinking about taking part in the Stronghold Series, it’s a great place to start as it will pull you right in. Stronghold Crusader is a fantastic game for castle simulation fans and real time strategy fans alike. I would recommend this buying this game even at full price, but if you can get it at a discount its worth every penny and you won’t regret it.
+Four amazing campaigns which teach you how to play the game without being boring or repetitive.
+The AI has various levels of intelligence which makes them fun as well as challenging.
+They added mercenaries which allow you to build emergency armies quick, but cost extraordinary sums of gold.
+Finally Skirmishes have been introduced; you don’t have to play the campaign or multiplayer. You can just mess around by yourself.
+New strategic limitations, such as limited grass for agriculture which makes you consider your strategies.
-I couldn’t minimize the game; it would minimize but not maximize (Windows 8.1)
-When playing you could not open steam overlay, one of the commands for steam overlay is a command for the games GUI display.