Stronghold Crusader - PC

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Stronghold Crusader (PC)
Viewed: 2D Isometric, Scrolling Genre:
Strategy: Combat
Media: CD Arcade origin:No
Developer: FireFly Studios Soft. Co.: Take 2
Publishers: Take 2 (GB)
Released: 20 Sept 2002 (GB)
Ratings: 11+
No Accessories: No Accessories


One of Take 2's biggest PC games of 2001, Stronghold, quickly climbed the ranks of RTS fame, and while it didn't strictly belong to the genre, it soon became a much loved title among many hardcore RTS followers. Well, it's another year and it's time for another Stronghold. It's not an add-on and it's not a sequel, it's Stronghold Crusader.

Crusader, officially a strategy game and not an RTS, combines the combat elements of classics such as Command and Conquer with in depth 'settlement' games such as, umm, Settlers. Players can begin any of four full-length campaigns as they strive to harvest and manage nearby resources such as wood and water. There are 20 campaign missions alone, and a sizeable 50 single player crusades.

There's a heavy presence of the management simulator in Crusader, but that's not to say the combat element of the game has been neglected. On the contrary, the developers have taken measures to ensure battles are precise. But more interestingly, they have managed to do it without alienating the player with complex statistics screens and overwhelming quantities of information. Each of the missions is goal-orientated, and entails a variety of strategy and combat-based objectives.

Crusader's AI routines have also been subtly altered for an all-round better game. The enemy often attacks in numbers but can be defeated given a little thought and careful planning. Battling against human players can be far more challenging and much more fun. Up to eight players can join in a multi-player skirmish and your opponents' unpredictable behaviour will have you on edge throughout the mission. There's a certain satisfaction to be had from outwitting your friends in battle that is unrivalled in single player mode. And for that reason, strategy aficionados will find Crusader worth its weight in gold.