Seize A Saladin: Stronghold Crusader 2

Stronghold Crusader 2 skips away from the muddy fields of Wales (I assume most castles are in Wales because I saw one there as a child), returning to the dust and deserts of the Holy Land (not to imply that Wales is the Unholy Land). I think of the first Crusader spin-off as being a more traditional RTS within the Stronghold mould and what I’ve seen of the sequel backs that up. The main difference between this and the first may well be the actual castle construction, which looks like it’ll allow some creative thinking. Slightly dodgy voiceovers aside, the latest trailer has some appeal and the new details on the skirmish mode suggest it’ll be easy to escape the constraints of the campaign.

Here’s the latest on skirmishing:

Crusader 2 will feature a full skirmish mode at launch. This includes eight AI characters and the ability to take your castle siege online, which extends to eight players and the option to play in teams or co-op. It simply wouldn’t be a Crusader game without a skirmish mode and the kind of replayability that offers. This is what we intended to deliver from day one and it’s fundamental to the game’s design.

Our new AI character reveal should also make Crusader 1 fans very happy. Saladin is a classic character returning from the original game, who led his armies against Richard the Lionheart in the Third Crusade. He is at his core a kind hearted person, but on the battlefield he is a fierce warrior fighting for the freedom of his people.

While I enjoy watching walls crumble like biscuits in a lovely mug of tea, I still hope there’ll be an effective follow-up in the main series one day. I have many happy and peaceful memories of time spent planning the perfect walled settlement in Stronghold 2. Maybe Banished 2 will incorporate stonking great castles. Mmmmm.


  1. Ragabhava says:

    Help, I am stuck in time, it is 2002 all over again !
    Help, I am stuck in time, it is 2002 all over again !

    Help, I am stuck in time, it is 2002 all over again !

    Help, I am stuck in time, it is 2002 all over again !Help, I am stuck in time, it is 2002 all over again !Help, I am stuck in time, it is 2002 all over again !

  2. Loque says:

    Well, it seems the developers focused 90% on gameplay and 10% on visuals.

    • Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

      Which is awesome.

      Also, I think these graphics are absolutely perfectly fitting in this type of game.

      I also love the “dodgy voiceovers”, reminds me of C&C Generals. They give a very nice characteristic feel to the game/generals/kings or whatever they are.

      Realism gets tedious. This is a game that actually looks and seems like a game, not some psudo-hyperrealistic simulator.

      • Loque says:

        To be fair, graphics are just ugly in this case.Tehre is no need to add “realism” or anything similar: it’s all about art direction / style. There are tons of games wich don’t have any “realism” in their graphics and look amazing. This one, on the oher side, looks pretty poor in that sense.

        • Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

          I completely disagree that the graphics are “just ugly”. I think they can be great for this type of game. They’re clear and iconic, characteristic, and perfect for a good old unrealistic strategy game like this. Not really ugly.

          Whilst they might improve stuff like animation quality and such, the rest seems highly fitting.

          If you want ‘realistic’ graphics, go play Crysis 3 or whatever.

          • HauntedQuiche says:

            You’re being thick. Like, incredibly so.

            Stop smugly whinging about Crysis 3 and actually read what the guy said – he doesn’t care about realism, but in this case the art direction is just ugly. Realism isn’t the issue. It just looks bad.

            The art style of bad. The design is wonky. The appearance is a pain to look at. It is ugly.

            To be honest, I don’t really think the Stronghold games have looked particularly good since they went 3D. They just don’t seem able to carry across any charm orr warmth or any feeling that this place is an actual…. place.

          • Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

            You’re focusing too much on the crysis 3 comment. It was a single sentence in a longer reply. Disregard it if you find it distracting.

            Anyways, just because you think it’s ugly doesn’t mean I have to. I think this art direction might work very well with the game, if done right. Maybe we need to make a distinction between good graphics and appropriate graphics. In that case I find the visuals of the game very appropriate for what they’re trying to create. They’re most definitly not bad, at least not for what they’re going for.

        • CptPlanet says:

          They are definitely not ugly. They are pretty standard for a strategy game.

  3. FFabian says:

    After I got burned on the latest Stronghold sequel, which was a massive pile of shit, I sit this one out.

  4. Volcanu says:

    I always wanted a ‘Castle Simulator’ that was a bit more in depth when it came to designing your defences. The ‘stronghold’ series always seemed a bit light in that regard, being as much a settlers-y, Knights & Merchants-y, town simulator.

    Nowt wrong with that but I want to dig moats, experiment with concentric walls, construct bastions, upgrade my square towers to round ones, and choose where to site the ruddy thing. It would be fun to recreate Krak des Chevaliers or Caernarfon, or just design your own one and then unleash a tide of enemies upon it and watch the slaughter, or just see how long it could hold out against a never ending tsunami of foes. In other words, the virtual equivalent of building sandcastles and watching them slowly succumb to the incoming tide.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Is there anything like this??

      I’ve not played it yet but I have vague hopes that Castle Story will ever-so-slightly satisfy castle building (although it will obviously have none of the fine detail, it’s just block placing).

    • Skiddywinks says:

      Oh shit; Knights and Merchants. Now that was a long time ago. Fuck that game was hard.

    • HauntedQuiche says:

      Actually, the orginal Stronghold / Stronghold Crusader did have quite a lot of the depth you are talking about. To a lesser extent, so did Stronghold 2.

      The stuf you say about digging moats, choosing where to locate your defences, experimenting with mutiple layers of walls and the like – it had all of that, especially in the later campign missions / a lot of the stand-alone missions.

      One of the particularly difficult standalone missions basically gives you an empty map with a massive, open plain in the center, a bunch of resources spread around it and a shit-ton of stuff in your stockpile and leaves you to prepare your castle however you want for 2 massive attacks, spaced with almost enough time to recover, but not quite. :p

      Stronghold 2 also had some really nice depth to its defences, but I remember the missions being a little less freeform in what you could really do in them. You still had a lot of options, and skirmish mode left you pretty much open to build however you wanted, but the general shape of your castle would be a little more defined for you. Dunno if that helps but there it is. :)

  5. Darth_Pingu says:

    Only one question:
    Can Saladin still get HORSES on top of his walls?

    • salattu says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised, seeing as how footsoldiers can still chip away at a wall and it sinks into the earth.

  6. Retzinsky says:

    I’ve been reading RPS for a very long time and as such I’m prepared for the punny titles. This one however absolutely killed me. Kudos.

  7. fatgleeson says:

    Just this weekend I started Crusader 1 for the first time, having replayed Stronghold 1 this summer. Im playing it following disappointment at Stronghold 2 and 3 which were inexplicably AWFUL compared to 1.

    I hope this turns out better than those two, and that they added measures against the as-yet unbeatable strategy of ‘Make wheat, make weapons, make archers, repeat’

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      “Ar-chers ready!”

      • Surlywombat says:

        I always wondered what happened to you after Gladiators.

    • TWChristine says:

      I absolutely loved Stronghold 1, found Crusaders fun despite the fact that I was awful at it and probably never got further than halfway through the campaign. I was super excited for Stronghold 2, and was flabbergasted to see how awful the game looked in 3D, not to mention just how terribly it played. Due to that (and reviews) I ended up passing on the 3rd game which seems like it was the best option. Gonna end up waiting again for reviews for this one, and probably wait for a sale anyway.

  8. Cinek says:

    This game begs for a proper physic engine and tons of awesome details with buildings collapsing and people being squashed by rocks from enemy catapults…

    Instead though we get something that looks like made in… 2002 as someone mentioned.

  9. Sacarathe says:

    Even with the dodgy walking this game looked awesome… Until the combat started, ah to have played too much banished I’ve a taste for non violent games set in a bygone era.

  10. jkz says:

    I saw two castles in Wales as a child, and that was just the north so I suspect the place is littered with them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      Hmm. The one I saw was in the north as well, which now leads me to believe there are none in the south. Unless somebody else chips in to let us know they’ve seen one down there.

      Did one of the ones you saw have a ruined bit at the front but an impressively solid rear with a couple of pointy bits on? We might have seen the same one if so. Maybe there are only two?

      • Volcanu says:

        The best (preserved) castles are mostly located in the North and North West of Wales. The most famous are those constructed by Edward I, which are some of the best surviving examples of European medieval defensive architecture. Caernarfon, Harlech, Conwy & Beaumaris are the most famous and are World Heritage Sites. What’s particularly nice is the way you can trace the rapid technological development from the construction of one to the next.

        There were castles in the South, but they are generally less well preserved or have later reconstructions / new building on their sites. I believe Swansea castle exists in some form and I believe Cardiff Castle has a Norman keep (although much of the site was remodelled in the 19th century).

        EDIT – Caerphilly Castle is very impressive actually and is very much in South Wales. That’s been used as a TV backdrop for various things…so you may have seen it without realising it.

        • DodgyG33za says:

          Don’t forget Raglan castle. Some of the best crenelated and machicolated stonework to be seen anywhere in the UK.

          • Volcanu says:

            Ooh I love a good crenellation me!

            From a personal standpoint, I find Raglan artistically very impressive but I tend to prefer the earlier 13th – 14th century castles which were very much designed with function in mind, beyond their aesthetic appeal. Raglan is on the cusp of the trend to design castles that served more as an impressive residence than as a defensive structure.

      • slerbal says:

        There are plenty throughout the south! Raglan Castle, Chepstow Castle, the hideous Cardiff Castle (not a real castle) and plenty more! There is a list at: link to

        My personal favourite castles are in the North, but there are plenty in South Wales :)

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      Wales does, in fact, have the highest density of medieval castles of any country in the world.

    • Jazzyboy says:

      Yeah, I live in Wales, and I can confirm that we have a lot of ‘castles’.

      Although, I say ‘castles’ lightly, because a good portion of them are more like stone houses with a couple towers thrown on to them.(or were. Fortunately, a lot of them were mostly destroyed long ago. The only evidence of their measliness is now a few piles of broken stones)

      There are some really impressive ones though. None that I’ve seen are as impressive as some of France’s, but they’re cool nonetheless. Like there’s one up near Chirk somewhere(can’t remember the name. Might actually be Chirk Castle) was the site of a few battles, so it has some nice fortifications.(Though my opinion of it might be a bit biased, since I watched a reenactment there, which had pretty explosions)

      Oh and Powis Castle which I live near to is pretty impressive I suppose, though it’s ruined in my eyes by it’s horrible colour. It looks a little like it came out of a Disney film. Oh and because it’s royal, and royalty visits it sometimes, it doesn’t have many brutish fortifications.

      • Volcanu says:

        Au contraire mon frere. Sorry, I mostly just wanted to say that.

        But for my money, Wales has the more impressive Medieval castles. Of course it’s a matter of opinion – and you are very much entitled to disagree! But most of the French castles that the (majority of) people visit were never intended as defensive structures and are therefore more like stately homes.

        I agree that they are pretty impressive though!

  11. SillyWizard says:

    Banished + Castles and Cathedrals is a game I would be extremely excited about. That would be a pretty sweet end-game — can your town support a centuries-long construction project?

    • Volcanu says:

      That would be fun. Sort of like how the monuments worked in Pharoah I guess…

  12. Donners says:

    Castles: Siege and Conquest offered quite good custom castle building 20 years ago. I’m surprised that feature has been lacking from other castle-related games since.

    • TWChristine says:

      I spent so much time in that game it’s not even funny…despite the fact that it annoyed the heck out of me. I don’t know if I ever conquered more than 6 provinces, I rarely had a decent castle built before I was attacked and my people always seemed to be the worst at defending them (and would get murdered at the enemy castles that always seemed crazily defended). And then it was kind of a minor annoyance that on the packaging you could see there were video clips, but for some reason my Mac didn’t have Quicktime and I’ve never seen them.

      • pendantry says:

        there were video clips, but for some reason my Mac didn’t have Quicktime and I’ve never seen them

        Might this be one?