|Publisher(s)||Take 2 Interactive and Gathering of Developers|
|Writer(s)||Casimir C. Windsor|
|Composer(s)||Robert L. Euvino|
|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. 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 a pseudo-Europe, instead being set in the Middle East during the Crusades. 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 another 30 missions added from the developers to have fun at. Same as first 50, first 10 are very easy
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 story Hassan-i Sabbah, and the Emir are of medium difficulty and of hard difficulty are Nazir, the Caliph, and Saladin.
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.
Stronghold: Crusader Extreme
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. 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.
|Stronghold: Crusader Extreme|
The Extreme version received "generally unfavorable reviews" according to Metacritic. It was criticized for extreme difficulty, lack of new audio, and not having graphical quality up to par for a game released in 2008.
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. The game was released on September 23, 2014.
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