- Rated: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
- Updated: October 8, 2002
- Version: 2.4.1
- Size: 562.8 MB
- Platform: Windows
- Languages: English
- Seller: Firefly Studios,Inc.
If you enjoyed the mighty Stronghold, but want a game with even more substance, then sire, your software is ready. Stronghold is one of those rare games that comes along without any fanfare and ends up being really special even though nobody really expected much from it. However Crusader had a few of us salivating before its release, as the original game was such a promising appetizer.
Like the original game Crusader sees you ruling the land, running your own castle, developing your economy and of course smiting anyone who dares threaten your dominance. However this time around you have a lot more combat missions to challenge you, a host of new units and a more polished enemy AI to contend with. The game also sees you leading the Holy Crusades during the 1100s and taking the fight to Saladin and his mates in the medieval Middle East.
In case you haven't come across this excellent game in its original incarnation, here is a little background to get you up to speed. InStronghold (and Crusader) you must manage your economic development as well as oversee your military machine. Indeed the latter is very dependant on all being well with the former and in this sense you will only win games if you have a sound sense of how to best manage a feudal economy. You will then be able to indulge in castle design and tactical combat.
The interface is deep and full of options, but it also delivers very concisely all of the information you need to successfully grow your empire. And there's lot of information to be mastered too. This side of the game was always impressive in the original and no major interface changes have been made for Crusader.
To build a strong army you will have to manage resources like food, leather, stone, ale, wood, bread, and all sorts of weapons that you will have to have hand made by specialist craftsmen. Indeed it is your people who are your most important resource.
These are recruited to help build your economy. Peasants gather in front of your lord's hut, the central structure of your castle. They stand around the campfire rubbing their hands, looking grubby and waiting for you to give them a job worthy of their skills. This is done by building a workplace for them. For example if you want more wood, build woodcutter's huts. If you need more bread you'll need to build bakeries (which cost wood). Your peasants will then wander over to these new buildings and start working for you.
This sounds simple enough, but your people must be kept happy, fed and have somewhere to live. You will also have to make sure they are keen enough on your settlement that you can extract a little coin from them so that you can fund your military expansion. If your people are starving, being taxed too high or have another gripe they will begin buggering off on you, and your economic system will eventually grind to a halt. Your people can be made happy with more food, gardens in your town and even taverns and churches help keep their spirits up. However all of these things cost a lot so you really need to juggle the competing demands the game makes on your resources.
This is the essence of the game's economic model, and this juggling act is also what makes the game so damn enjoyable too. Your reliance on economic judgment as well as solid tactical ability is very much more so important Crusader than it was in the original game as you can command much larger armies this time around, and your settlements become huge too. The maps are also massive, definitely larger, possibly at least four times so.
As was the case in the original game managing a feudal economy requires a lot of understanding. For example if you want to produce the most efficient food type, bread, you have to first get enough wood then setup a farmer to harvest wheat, which he then takes to the storage area where the millers grab it and refine it. Then the flour is picked up by the bakers who get busy with the oven and finally transport the fresh loaves to your granary where your people can finally get the grub. This process is involved and it is the sort of thing that the game tests you to manage well.