An exciting history-themed game that gives players the opportunity to experience fort defense during the Crusades
Windows 98 SE / Windows NT / Windows 98 / Windows XP / Windows 2000 / Windows ME
One of the great RTS games of the past, Stronghold Crusader takes you on a riveting campaign where you have to handle the conflicts from the age of the Crusades. In the demo version, you can also taste the action before you decide on whether or not you want to buy the full game because admittedly, this might not be the game for everyone.
Since the Age of Empires and the Civilization franchises blazed a path, if you liked either of those games, you will probably like how Stronghold Crusader provides you with a game that resembles those two real-time strategy games. You build your armies up to a dangerous size and attack the heathens of the Middle East. Everything takes place from the First, Second and Third Crusades. Your goal is to bring the balance of power back into the hands of the Christian armies against the Muslim heathens. This bitter conflict between the two is one battle, but you will also have to resolve some of the conflicts among your own men and the separate crusader states.
You may accomplish all these feats of the Stronghold Crusader franchise, and you can purchase supplies and build your own stronghold to a monolithic size for the towns you have taken control over. As you go on the campaigns, you will visit some of the historic locations like Jerusalem, Nicea and Antioch. You can even take advantage of a game feature known as the "Crusader Trail." This consists of over 50 different missions that have all been connected. You must face off against a number of vicious and cunning opponents who want nothing more than victory over their enemies.
What separates Stronghold Crusader from its competition is how you have a variety of different characters. In fact, you even have some of the historical figures of the time period, such as Richard the Lionheart. Meanwhile, you also have some interesting fictional characters like "The Rat." This is the boy who was poor in the beginning, but he later inherits the throne, a crown, gold and land. What's cool about Stronghold Crusader is how each of the characters seem to have been built up with a backstory of their own. It serves to immerse you in the game and make it more interesting.
With all the excellent things aside, one of the biggest disadvantages of Stronghold Crusader is how the graphics look terrible. At the time, we had some fairly advanced graphics, but it hasn't aged well in the coming years. Overall, however, it's a great game of the RTS genre, and it's worth checking out.
If you've been digging around for the old school castle sim that started a revolution in 4X games, Stronghold: Crusader is a pretty good place to start. From around 2002, the Crusader sequel takes players away from the Europe-like settings of the first Stronghold to the Middle Eastern setting during the Crusades.
The ideological battle of Christian versus Muslim is not as heavy handed as some Internet debates, but the unit structure is great. The campaigns go through the First, Second and Third Crusades while giving a deeper look into the power struggles within the Crusader states that held smaller, undermining conflicts.
With over 70 missions available in the Crusader Trail system against different enemies of your faction, Stronghold: Crusader offers a historic set of battles while giving an excellent taste of what castle management stems from.
A few historic battles within Stronghold: Crusader include the Siege of Antioch, Krek des Chevaliers and the Siege of Jerusalem. Don't worry if you're not an extreme history buff; the game gives you a good bit of information without forcing giant books of learning down your throat at one time.
For the European lord, you can play as leaders such as King Phillip, Lionheart and Emperor Frederick. As the Arabian lords, you can chose between the Caliph, the Nizar, Saladin or even as a Sultan for easy mode.
If you enjoy the demo, know that the full version has an expanded release called Stronghold Crusader Extreme. With new tactical powers, AI opponents and maps, you can enjoy everything in the demo plus an amazing set of new modes.
Don't worry about compatibility problems. Run Stronghold: Crusader in compatibility mode for Windows Vista and have fun. If you want to get the Stronghold: Crusader Extreme version after the demo, be at ease knowing that the compatibility issues are mostly taken care of.
If you haven't had a chance to experience Stronghold: Crusader, give this demo a try. Thanks, Firefly!