Stronghold Crusader 2
The original Stronghold was a kind of RTS often compared to Age of Empires due to similar mechanics, yet there were some differences: Stronghold is more about castle building and supporting than about military campaigns. The long-awaited sequel shifts the balance, so you can both build and destroy. So welcome to the Holy Land with the crusader party!
Though this time Firefly Studios introduced a real 3D engine, that didn’t change the gameplay much. But the new look of the game is a real luxury. Hills and seas, buildings and trees now look much more realistic. Still, there are some conventional elements of RTS style (like castles and workshops not much bigger than people), but we’ve got used to it.
On the other hand, it’s a real pleasure to zoom the terrain in and out and see it detailed or almost map-like. Finally, RTS fans get something worth for this decade.
The RTS genre doesn’t seem to have changed much since. So you have your castle built already, and now you manage the infrastructure around. Create farms and collect wood, fight enemies and adjust rations and taxes.
Politics and economics matter in this world, so get ready to earn your subjects’ loyalty. Feed them, provide with entertainment, build homes and churches, and train soldiers to protect your stronghold. The game includes both tutorial on controls and mechanics and training campaigns to master what you’ve learned.
You can play either for crusaders or their Muslim opponents (like Saladin). That doesn’t affect the mechanics, though parties differ in some nuances.
The most attractive part of it all is online multiplayer. Crusaders can play in PvP mode or cooperate, sharing one castle for two lords. History says it’s a dangerous situation, but let’s hope we have learned something through all these centuries.
A traditional RTS mostly utilizes the mouse to control. Select buildings or units, browse menus, navigate through the map, and don’t touch the keyboard if you don’t really need it. There’s nothing new for RTS fans or for those who have ever tried playing any classic piece (including earlier installments of Stronghold).
Maybe the developers just follow the tradition. And maybe they know their audience and their preferences established for many years.
Replay Value: 4
The replayability of RTS is mostly in its online PvP mode. No matter how advanced the AI is, the longer you play, the more predictable it gets. But playing against a human opponent is quite a different experience, especially in random mode.
We cannot point out many rival games of the 2010s (except for endless extensions of Age of Empires II). And that’s one more reason to spend more hours in the world of Stronghold Crusader 2.
Stronghold Crusader 2 is not as much the long-awaited revival of good old RTS as a kind of nostalgic present to diehard RTS fans who nevertheless got tired of playing classic games over and over. Maybe it can attract new fans, but it’s rather meant for historical RTS players already familiar with the genre. This audience will certainly be satisfied with the revamped appearance and (for good or bad) intact gameplay.
- Graphics 5
- Gameplay 5
- Controls 5
- Replay Value 4
Politics and economics matter
Traditional controls and mechanics are still here
Moderate system requirements
The genre hasn’t evolved much since the first Stronghold