Stronghold: Crusader

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Stronghold: Crusader
Developer(s)Firefly Studios
Publisher(s)Take 2 Interactive and Gathering of Developers
Designer(s)Simon Bradbury
Artist(s)Mike Best
Writer(s)Casimir C. Windsor
Composer(s)Robert L. Euvino
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
  • NA: September 25, 2002[1]
  • EU: September 27, 2002
Stronghold: Crusaders Extreme
  • NA: June 2, 2008
  • EU: September 18, 2009
Genre(s)Real-time strategy, Simulation
Mode(s)Single player, multiplayer (IPX, TCP/IP or Modem)

Stronghold: Crusader is the successor to Firefly Studios's 2001 real-time strategy video game Stronghold.[2] Crusader has much in common with the original Stronghold, but differs from its predecessor in the fact that the game is no longer set in England, instead being set in the Middle East during the Crusades.[3] The game features a multitude of new Arabian units that can be purchased in a new building, the mercenary post. Though the Arabian troops do not require any weapons to produce, they are rather expensive. The game was also released as Stronghold Warchest. This version was a compendium of Stronghold and an enhanced version of Stronghold: Crusader, containing additional characters and an additional Crusader Trail.

Stronghold Warchest was only released in limited number of countries (i. e. USA or Poland), meaning players in the rest of the world have never encountered the second Crusader Trail, or second set of characters. This changed when an updated version of Stronghold Crusader, Stronghold: Crusader Extreme was released in early 2008.


Stronghold Crusader features several real-time strategy campaign strings. These document the First, Second and Third Crusade, as well as conflicts within the individual Crusader states. Each campaign comprises several battles, such as Nicaea, Heraclea, siege of Antioch, Krak des Chevaliers and the Siege of Jerusalem. The game also features the Crusader Trail, a series of 50 linked missions against various opponents. Stronghold Warchest adds one more Crusader Trail, consisting of 30 linked missions.


The gameplay is similar to the original Stronghold, the major difference being that the game is set in the Middle East. As a consequence, farms can only be built on oasis grass, which leads to rivalry among players for limited farmland and resources. The game adds new AI opponents (the number depending on the version of the game) and several new Arabian units purchasable from a mercenary post. The colour of the player's units have also been changed from blue to red in order to match the colours of the Knights Templar. Other than farms there are other resources such as iron ore, quarry (for stone), marshes (for oil). These resources are deposited on the stockpile and player can choose to either sell or use them for defense purposes. There are two ways to build an army; either make the weapons and then spend a little gold to turn peasants into soldiers, or turn them directly into soldiers using more gold via the mercenary post.

There are historical chapters (mostly fictionalized) which are to be completed using the resources given to the player at the start of the missions. Along with that there are 50 levels designed with increasing difficulty. Each level has one or more Kings who you have to defeat and defend your kingdom from. There is an option of 3 chickens at the start of the game which the player can use to skip a particular level.

There are 30 additional levels were added by the developers in the form of an additional Crusade Trail. The design of these mirrors the original 50 levels with the difficulty raising as you progress through the levels.


The game contains several different characters, available to be selected as allies and enemies. The opponents from the original game make a return, as well as new Arabian lords and crusaders being available. One unique aspect of the game is that the characters have individual binks (small short videos) by which they communicate with the player, asking for goods or help if allied with them or, if they are the players' enemy, taunting them when attacking or expressing worry when under siege. These videos were absent for Stronghold 2 but returned, in new form for Stronghold Crusader II.

There are 16 characters in total. These vary in terms of difficulty and tactics. There are five relatively weak European lords, the Rat, the Snake, King Phillip, the Marshal and the Abbot. The Sheriff and Pig are of medium difficulty and of hard difficulty are the Lionheart, the Wolf, and Emperor Frederick. For the Arabian lords, the Sultan is of easy difficulty. The Wazir, in real life Hassan-i Sabbah, and the Emir are of medium difficulty and of hard difficulty are Nazir, the Caliph, and Saladin.


Stronghold: Crusader
Aggregate score
Review scores
CGM3.5/5 stars[5]
CGW2/5 stars[6]
Game Informer8.75/10[7]
GameSpy4/5 stars[8]
PC Gamer (UK)76%[11]
PC Gamer (US)77%[12]
PC Zone82%[13]

The game received "generally favorable reviews" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[4]

According to Edge, Stronghold: Crusader sold at least 100,000 copies in the United States, but was beaten by the first Stronghold's 220,000 sales in the region. Total US sales of Stronghold games released during the 2000s reached 590,000 copies by August 2006.[14]

Stronghold: Crusader Extreme[edit]

On January 28, 2008, Firefly Studios announced an expanded version of the game: Stronghold: Crusader Extreme. It boasts "new AI opponents and maps", "new crusader extreme trail", "battles featuring over 10,000 units" and Windows Vista compatibility.[15] It was released in June 2008.

It also contains an updated version of the original Stronghold: Crusader, which includes everything except for outposts, the god powers and the Extreme Crusader Trail. However, if the official HD patch is installed, outposts can be built on maps on the original Stronghold Crusader part of Stronghold Crusader Extreme.[16]


Stronghold: Crusader Extreme
Aggregate score
Review scores
PC Gamer (UK)30%[21]
PC Zone42%[22]

The Extreme version received "generally unfavorable reviews" according to Metacritic.[17] It was criticized for extreme difficulty, lack of new audio, and not having graphical quality up to par for a game released in 2008.[citation needed]


On August 30, 2012, Firefly Studios announced Stronghold Crusader II, a sequel to the original Crusader game. The company said that the game would be self-published, with additional funding to be sourced via crowd-funding site Gambitious.[23][24][25] The game was released on September 23, 2014.


  1. ^ Parker, Sam (September 19, 2002). "Stronghold: Crusader goes gold". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Chick, Tom (October 3, 2002). "Stronghold: Crusader Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  3. ^ "Stronghold: Crusader". Firefly Studios. Archived from the original on December 24, 2006.
  4. ^ a b "Stronghold: Crusader for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  5. ^ "Stronghold: Crusader". Computer Games Magazine. January 2003. p. 83.
  6. ^ Luo, Di (January 2003). "Stronghold: Crusader" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 222. Ziff Davis. p. 110. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  7. ^ Brogger, Kristian (December 2002). "Stronghold: Crusader". Game Informer. No. 116. GameStop. p. 149. Archived from the original on August 11, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  8. ^ Abner, William (November 3, 2002). "GameSpy: Stronghold: Crusader". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  9. ^ Giacobbi, Kevin "BIFF" (October 3, 2002). "Stronghold: Crusader Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Polak, Steve (October 8, 2002). "Stronghold Crusader". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  11. ^ "Stronghold: Crusader". PC Gamer UK. Future plc. November 2002.
  12. ^ Peckham, Matthew (December 25, 2002). "Stronghold: Crusader". PC Gamer. Vol. 9 no. 13. Future US. p. 85. Archived from the original on March 15, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  13. ^ Pratchett, Rhianna (October 18, 2002). "PC Review: Stronghold: Crusader". PC Zone. Future plc. Archived from the original on September 21, 2007. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  14. ^ Edge staff (August 25, 2006). "The Top 100 PC Games of the 21st Century". Edge. Future plc. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012.
  15. ^ "Stronghold: Crusader Extreme". Firefly Studios. Archived from the original on February 1, 2008.
  16. ^ a b Todd, Brett (June 23, 2008). "Stronghold Crusader Extreme Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Stronghold: Crusader Extreme for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  18. ^ "Stronghold Crusader Extreme Review". Ziff Davis. June 3, 2008. Archived from the original on November 8, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  19. ^ Hollingshead, Anise (July 21, 2008). "Stronghold Crusader Extreme - PC - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on January 20, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  20. ^ Ocampo, Jason (June 10, 2008). "Stronghold Crusader Extreme Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  21. ^ "Stronghold: Crusader Extreme". PC Gamer UK. Future plc. August 2008. p. 74.
  22. ^ "Review: Stronghold: Crusader Extreme". PC Zone. Future plc. September 2008. p. 72.
  23. ^ "All Game Projects". Gambitious. Archived from the original on September 3, 2012.
  24. ^ Davey, Jamie (August 30, 2012). "Firefly Studios announces Stronghold Crusader II for PC in Late 2013". GameWatcher. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  25. ^ "Firefly Announce Stronghold Crusader 2". Firefly Studios. August 30, 2012. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2018.

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