Siege castles and battle fierce warriors with strong weaponry
Windows XP / Windows 10 / Windows 7 / Windows Vista / Windows 10
Stronghold: Crusader HD takes the original game's unique blend of city building and real time strategy components and adds a whole new polish of high definition graphics. Castle simulators are a rare breed in the modern gaming space, which is perhaps why Stronghold Crusader was given the green light for a new adaptation. Much like the vanilla version of Crusader, this standalone game pus you in charge of defending and maintaining a besieged castle, but it moves the setting from Europe to the Middle East during the Crusades. In addition to providing a brand new setting into which you can dip your toes, it brings with it some changes that mix up the formula in some interesting ways.
The developers listened to what worked and didn't work in the last game, and a lot of that comes down to boiling down and streamlining the more traditional management components. While Stronghold alternated between combat and economic missions, with the latter involving some tedious gameplay, Crusader puts attention almost squarely on the back and forth of laying siege to castles and defending your own. That's not to say that economics play no part in the game, but they've been more seamlessly folded into the systems rather than standing apart and compartmentalizing these two components.
In general, the game is all about expanding on what already works. The fundamentals are still built on the back of a real time strategy game, and you have a number of units available to you, with more specialized an powerful attackers requiring more investment of time and money. Resource management is equally as important, and you'll need to learn to juggle a variety of different resources like lumber and ore with the development of your army and your defenses. As with most RTS games, production vs. demand is the fulcrum on which you need to base much of your decision making. Along with the new setting comes a whole new range of characters and units as well. These include seven unique varieties of Arabian mercenaries. While many of these are essentially variants of existing units with some alterations to their stats, others bring whole new abilities to the table that can change the game in fundamental ways. The shift in how the game plays means that combat is much quicker, and amassing an army generally doesn't take nearly as long as it did in vanilla Stronghold.
The gameplay fundamentals are solid, and the experience is further improved by whole wealth of modes. This is a densely packed game with a lot to do. Traditional AI skirmishes are given more depth through the variety of maps, and many of them present asymmetrical balance, where the map's design gives each side a distinct advantage and disadvantage. There's also a sandbox mode and an extensive campaign stretching over 50 chapters.