Stronghold Crusader Extreme has a demo out. There's actually different versions for each language you have to download separately, clocking in between 191.61 Mb (For the English) to 213.68 Mb(For the Spanish). What are the Spaniards getting that we don't? Is it more extreme? Can the Spanish take things which the English constitution wouldn't manage? This isn't fair, Goddammit. Er... Impressions follow.
Yeah, we've been mean about the title of Stronghold Crusader Extreme before, but doesn't mean we're not going to continue to. The demo actually showcases what an oddly MPDy little game this has now become - which isn't actually necessarily a bad thing. Four levels are included - two from the old-skool Crusader campaign, and another two in the new Extreme mode. The compare and contrast, the first two levels feature nothing more violent than four horsemen occasionally turning up to stop you gathering apples. The other two feature hundreds of soldiers spewing forth in seconds and tearing, en masse, towards your castle.
And God powers.
It's actually a fun little package. I always had a softspot for the Stronghold games, despite their obvious flaws. The City-builder-meets-Wargame thing works well, and I did enjoy a morning of gathering apples. And, Extreme mode plays like some of the videogame extreme mods which always amuse me - you know, the ones which let the railgun in Quake 3 fire like a machine gun or whatever. I occasionally hoped for a developer to say fuck it, and just give weapons that brutal in a game to see what that God-like power would feel like. Crusader Extreme, in its own way, kind of does that. It throws away Stronghold's brain and replaces it with a sugary donut coated with meth.
The joy being nowt else has changed - you can still play the old Crusader modes. All the extra content ever is there. It's just that you've got this new mode which is only possible due to the march of processors, which at least has it's own style. While I've yet to beat either mission, the trick seems to be to realise that the initial thing is to get a Mercenary hiring place and start hiring. Make sure you're getting serfs turn up, but get those men out in mobs and causing casualties. Pay attention to the bar you're building on the right, unlocking the God powers. The low-level arrow-storm is just something you generally throw down to thin out enemy ranks, but being able to spawn units of knights or drop rocks from the skies have obvious utility.
I think it's worth a play. God knows I've got things I should have done this morning other than play this, but I don't regret it. Though I probably should have waited for toknight.