Stronghold Crusader 2 – Review
Follow Genre: Real Time Strategy
Developer: Firefly Studios
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform: PC

Stronghold Crusader 2 – Review

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Good: A great tutorial that lowers the learning curve for newer players to the genre
Bad: Sandbox mode feels rather limited.
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Stronghold Crusader 2 is the long awaited sequel to Stronghold: Crusader, the original ‘castle sim’. After 12 years the game returns to the deserts of the Middle East. An rts and city builder simulation combined, Castle Crusader 2 will put the fate of the holy land in your clutches. The fact that the gameplay takes place in the desert doesn’t mean that only sandstorms and drought are the only dangers you’ll have to face.



In the learning campaigns you are either Saladin or Lionheart, both very famous warriors from the Crusades. In the Skirmishes you are just a Sire with the beginnings of a kingdom and the possibility of victory over the other camp. It is up to you to make the right decisions and assess the situation on the battlefield. Strategy prevails as you order your troops around and build structures to either further your economy or strengthen your defenses.


Stronghold Crusader 2 doesn’t have extremely beautiful graphics, but there’s a solid reason for that. You can zoom in on the battlefield or parts of the map to see what’s going on, and then you’ll see that some animations clip when executed, like the handle of an axe moving wildly through the air when a character chops wood. Or the Jester’s handstand looking a little too floaty when performed. Rts’s aren’t supposed to be viewed up close, you are the overseer or overseeress of the whole picture. When you zoom out, all these little things become unclear and you won’t even notice that your minions don’t have perfectly formed hands, or the slight clipping actions. You’ll see a city that grows and needs caring, protecting it is your major duty. The map can be rotated so you can see every angle. This is done by pressing down on the scrolling wheel. The map you play in has places with color codes. Green is the oasis, red is a iron mine and off white is where you can mine for stone.



Upon starting the game a smooth tune accompanies the welcoming to the game. The music to the menu is oddly enticing. The sound of the wind buffeting the dunes, an instrument playing a few notes. You’d think that a place as isolated as the desert is completely bereft of sound, and at first the sandy dunes offer little to no sound, but as you raise your city you’ll start to hear more and more sounds. Soon the air will be brimming with it. You’ll hear pig squeal as they are butchered for food. You’ll hear the creaking of wood as the trunks hit the ground. Your troops will comment on your commands, they all have the same voice, so if a soldier died in combat, he’ll have little to be remembered by. Your enemies will taunt you and comment on their thoughts on the battle.

Your right hand man will aid you when decisions have to be made or when certain structures need to be built for the success of the operation. His voice smooth and slick. During timed missions he’ll say things at certain intervals, even though they don’t hold ground anymore. When battle commences, and there’ll be a lot of it, the music becomes more upbeat. When the opposition has been overcome, the music will dissipate.

Stronghold Crusader 2


Stronghold Crusader 2 has been created with all sorts of players in mind. People who are fans of the rts genre will easily conquer battlefield after battlefield, bringing home victories. The newer players to the genre aren’t ignored. The learning campaign has those players in mind. It’s everything you need to teach you the ropes and is just perfectly paced that you’ll be up and running in no time. What it does is slowly ease you into the waters by showing you what does what. You are first taught that you’ll need to keep your farmers happy by lowering taxes and being more lenient on food rations.

The number of farmers is equal to your work capacity, if this drops, then the whole operation slows down. So you should keep them happy. This can be done by building orchards and pig farms, among others, to keep them fed and healthy. Hop farms can be built which are necessary when you want to start a brewery. When the alcohol is prepared you can sell it at an inn. A church will please other farmers. More workers access to faster resources. So taking a step back from gearing up for war can pay out in the long run.

In the previous section the color codes were mentioned. Green is the oasis, where you can build certain items.For example, a logging camp so you can get wood for bows and structures or orchards for food. Red is where you’ll have to build a mine. The off white is where you’ll have to put down a quarry and this will get you stone. These are often scattered across map and you’ll have to build ox tethers. These will transport the goods to your stockpile. Stone will be used up as you build walls around your kingdom or erect buildings, while wood is used for bows and crossbows and some structures. Next to that, iron is used for swords, maces, spears and armour. Weaker soldiers will just need weapons, but the stronger ones need to be outfitted with the latter. They do more damage and last longer in battle, but at the cost of their ‘training’ a.k.a. production rate.

Stronghold Crusader 2

The second mode is Skirmishes. Here you’ll have to eradicate the enemy. You’ll start off with a certain amount of resources and it will be up to you on how to spend them. You can do it all yourself at the cost of time. As mining ore, rocks and chopping wood take up a large portion of this. You can also build an armoury and buy gear to outfit your warriors. You might need that money for other structures or more lower leveled troops so you’ll have to start guessing the odds on whether you want to be armed and ready now and await the enemy’s move or wait it out and created your own army from the resources your farmers have gathered.
Custom Skirmishes lets you set the rules and the map. You decided the terms and agreements of the war and what part of the desert you’ll occupy.

Then there’s the Multiplayer mode. Real time strategy only comes alive when playing against other players. It’s one thing to outsmart a computer, it’s another thing completely to outwit another player. They’ll react more precise to your actions and will adjust accordingly. The A.I. Is often conquered by throwing enough lower leveled peons at them, but another player will build structures with cull de sacs to pin down your troops and take them out before they can mine away at the walls and gain entry. You can either host a match or a join another.

Stronghold Crusader 2
If you aren’t up for the battle aspect of the game then there’s even a mode for you! Sandbox mode will grant you the power to play indefinetly and create a city to your liking! Undeterred by time and enemy forces, you can build sculpt a city to your hearts content. It must be noted that this is a rather limited function as you can’t really do much more than build everything there is to build. A little more customisation would be welcome though.


Stronghold Crusader is a mix between a city simulation and a real time strategy. With different modes catering to different players, not only the combat hardened rulers, the game doesn’t fail to impress. With a story mode that is built around teaching new players the ropes, without making it feel like they are truly being tutored, and a soundtrack that’s both enthralling as it is soothing. Come venture in the desert and build your kingdom or crush the enemies and claim the lands.

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First game ever was Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped, ever since then, gaming has been something that I've gravitated to. Reading's fun but not as interactive. Always up for a bout of online multiplayer. If that multiplayer is co-op. So if you are up for a friendly co-op session, hit me up. Rahenik's the name to search on PSN.

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