Stronghold Crusader HD Review

Build your city and take down your foes sire. Stronghold Crusader HD is the updated release of the original strategy classic Stronghold Crusader released in 2002 and developed by firefly studios. The game is set in the medieval age and features strategic conflicts and town development from that age. This Version also includes the addition of a Stronghold Crusader Extreme HD patch. It is a small expansion which includes updates that let the player have increased army sizes, access to new buildings and extra missions.

There isn’t much of a story that the game follows however it does include stories that are of the crusades in Arabian lands and as such includes 4 historical campaigns. These campaigns are based on historic battles that place the player in missions where they are required to play either the Europeans led by Richard the first marching onto Arabia or the Arabians led by Saladin trying to push back the European invaders. The other main game mode includes a trail mode which requires the player to complete 50 linked Crusader matches for them to progress along the path of victory and conquer the Arab lands. These missions start out easy for the player but increase in difficulty as the player completes missions by adding new missions, enemies and disadvantages. Another of the game modes is more of a medieval sims mode called Castle builder mode. In this mode, the player is not required to fight any enemies but instead can build their city and expand. This mode also allows the player to activate events to keep the gameplay fresh and interesting. The other game modes available to the player include custom skirmishes and custom scenarios these include features that let the player create their own maps and enemies to fight.

The main mechanics of the game revolve around classic RTS mechanics which involves starting with very little and building up to having a city full of citizens and an army full of different kinds of soldiers. The players goal in the scenario unless playing castle builder mode is to be the last person standing. The player can achieve this by building up their city and army and using strategic skills to break through the enemy’s city and destroy them whilst protecting your own city from enemy attacks. The types of units that can be utilised in your army depend on how you build your city, for example when building your city you will have the option to build from multiple types of buildings each of which yields different advantages and allows the building of different kinds of units. One such building is the engineer’s guild which allows the creation of engineers, engineers are not good fighters but can be used to build things to help defend or attack like catapults and boiling oil. Aside from this the game requires standard city planning similar to those shown in sims games requiring you to manage your citizens and economy by feeding, taxing and supplying jobs to your citizenry. Your management skills are shown to either to be successful or a failure by checking the happiness of your citizens. While the management is very in depth for this old of a game the downside is that the building area isn’t as developed as most other games due to the building element boiling down to plastering around instant buildings everywhere instead of them being built over time.

The Visuals have received some updates since the original, the textures have received an update and had their resolution increased however this isn’t very noticeable. Although while this change isn’t huge it does mean that the whole map is now viewable on the screen when zoomed out. There is also a 4k version of the texture update in the extreme version giving the game an even better experience. The menus could use an update as they only manage to take up a small section of the screen as they are which makes the game feel a lot more dated than it needs to. The way the town feels alive makes the game more interesting as the citizens go about their business in a fairly genuine manner whether they are sitting around a campfire or off performing their work tasks. There is a noticeable visual difference in the lord of the castle from the crusader side and the Arabian leader. However, the troops could use differences added to them between factions this would give the player more incentive to try the other faction and could also allow for faction specific troops.

The Music used for the menus and start-up sounds is made to fit the setting of the game in Arabia by having the music include instruments like flutes and drums. The sounds fit the theme of the crusades well but after a while the repetition of the menu music starts to get annoying. The music in the rest of the game doesn’t get much better, while it does all fit to the main theme of the game the problem is that it is very repetitive. Once the music has died down then there is some very good ambient sounds of animals which adds to how alive the game feels. The voice over actor featured in the game has a very bland style of delivery but it is clear when he speaks this makes any lines he says very easy to understand.

Finally, the games play time is very flexible since it all depends on how skilled the player is and the average length of their matches. Since there is no proper campaign mode either except the historical campaigns the average length of play would also depend on the player’s interest in creating new matches. The rest of the game while improved in the texture department could use some changes in other areas such as the menu and the voice acting in order to bring it up to date.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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