Stronghold Crusader II Hands-On Preview

Firefly Studios is returning to the Stronghold Crusader series with their upcoming Stronghold Crusader II. It follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, steeping itself deep within the castle simulation games in the real-time strategy genre.

A direct sequel to the 2002 game, Stronghold Crusader II plays almost identically to the first. Nick Tannahill, Firefly Studios’ Marketing Manager, and Paul Harris, the senior producer on the game, described their goals with their new title, stating they wanted it to feel like the original, albeit with a modern makeover. This new makeover includes a fully 3D engine (a first for the series) and updates to controls, multiplayer, and even more like new units.

I spent time playing the game with both Nick and Paul, getting some coaching in the process. The game’s demo started us with a well-built base, complete with all of the necessary buildings and resources to get moving. The detail on the 3D units and buildings were great, and while I would have liked more time to get myself familiar with a game I hadn’t played in years, Paul started hard and fast bringing the fight to my castle.

The game felt and controlled like other games in the Stronghold series, and it’s almost intuitive with what is required to build up the castle further and grow a massive army. With Nick’s guidance, I fought off Paul’s constant attacks by creating new additions to my keep’s walls, like towers and additions to help turn my archer’s arsenal into flaming arrow attacks. As we traded blows, Paul created a group of Templars, new units to the game. These incredibly powerful units are capable of withstanding an incredible amount of damage and this group quickly overwhelmed my walls.

Yes, it was a bit odd that a bunch of men in armor with swords would be able to take down a castle’s walls, but these did. While I immediately removed my King from his high point on the castle, I was also using catapults and flaming carts to break my own path into Paul’s keep. While my king hid in the midst of battle, the rest of my troops were busy rushing Paul’s own keep and after a terrible struggle amongst his castle, his king fell and I stood victorious.

After that rousing battle, the pair gave us Stronghold Crusader II’s Steam release date, which is scheduled for September 2, 2014. Fans of the original and the Stronghold series overall will definitely enjoy this title. I’m already smitten with it myself, but then again, it���s not everyday you get to beat a game’s producer.

Stronghold Crusader II