Developed by Firefly Studios and published by Take 2 Interactive in 2002, Stronghold Crusader HD is the downloadable successor to the real-time strategy game Stronghold that came out the year before. Unlike Stronghold, this title focuses on the historical period known as the Crusades and eschews the medieval European setting of the previous game. Aside from the addition of new scenario specific Arabian units, a lot of the core mechanics of Stronghold have carried over to its successor.
Download Stronghold Crusader HD
To download the game follow the link at the end of the review. The game is available on Steam or GOG.com.
Stronghold Crusader HD Review
Among the scenarios on offer are simulations of the first, second, and third Crusades which also includes the more micro-conflicts that occur within the Crusader states themselves. The historical campaigns on offer include Nicaea, Heraclea, the siege of Antioch, Krak des Chevaliers and the Siege of Jerusalem as well as so-called Crusader Trail missions which are lengthy campaigns that are chained together in progressing difficulty.
One marked change from its predecessor is the relative unavailability of ever critical farmland and the various pressures that place on the player to compete with others for this vital resource. In Stronghold arable land was relatively plenty but, as you can imagine, this couldn’t possibly be the case in the Middle East and still be true to history. Instead, in Stronghold Crusader HD the only way to make food is to use so-called oasis grasses which allow you to improve and derive resources from it.
In addition to farmland, there are other resource tiles such as iron ore, quarry (for stone), and marshes (for oil) as well as a mercenary mechanic that gives the player the option to purchase expensive though readily available units of which are included the aforementioned unique Arab units.
There are two main ways to acquire soldiers. The first requires the acquisition of resources and then the gradual expenditure on the manufacture of weapons and training people to be foot soldiers or selling the resources on the open market and using the proceeds to speed up the process through the hiring of mercenary units.
Though the game does tie itself in quite intimately with the historical period that it associates itself with it should not be mistaken for a historically accurate game by any stretch of the imagination.
Even as compelling as they are, some of the scenarios in the game are nonetheless the fantastical creations of writers working for Firefly Studios. Towards this end, the game features a cast of characters and a narrative that is engaging and interesting but nothing to write home about.
Crafted from the ground up for the hardcore strategy game player, Stronghold Crusader HD offers as much of a challenge as a game of its type can get away with without being prohibitively difficult. Born of an old school spirit even though it was released 2002 it still held to a lot of the conventions of strategy games of the mid-1990s and this can be jarring for modern gamers who are not used to that kind of punishing gameplay.
A sequel to Stronghold Crusader was released in 2014 under the title Stronghold Crusader II and is considered by many fans to be a refinement of the concepts introduced in the 2002 title.