|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Firefly Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: GameCock||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
There are plenty of different resources such as metals, wood, and food which can be turned into a variety of items. In order to turn the raw materials into processed items, you will have to create some "value-added" industries. For instance, a mill will turn the harvested wheat into flour. A bakery will then turn the flour into bread, and so on.
As with all economic sims, balance is the key. Materials used to expand your empire must also be used to protect it. Weapons such as swords, spears, and crossbows can be made from woods and metals. You will start out with an army of peasants and eventually graduate to controlling 10,000 professionally trained and outfitted units. That's ten times more than the original version. It's a lot of units to control, and they look terrible onscreen. What you can expect is a lot more mouse action, as you send commands to the various units when engaged in warfare. There is no shortage of combat in this game, whether you are under siege or aggressively attacking a rival's castle; there is a lot to keep track of. Not only do you have to manage your stronghold (castle) and the surrounding villages, but outposts have been added to the mix. They hold various units in strategic locations throughout your kingdom.
To help simplify things in battle, there is an onscreen strategy meter that will assist you with some special attacks. The meter fills during play, and you can choose to use a little or a lot of it depending on the situation you're in. Using only a fraction of it will release an arrow assault on your opponent. The more juice you use, the more destruction, or the more help you will get, such as reinforcements. You won't unleash a screen-clearing nuclear explosion, so in that regard, it's not totally unrealistic. It's more like being assisted by other high-powered generals and their units.
Not only is Stronghold Crusader Extreme dated in terms of graphics and sound, but the interface is also slow and cumbersome. Fortunately, the game does load fast, and there is plenty of action during battles. Still, this is not an easy game to wrap your head around. The original title is very popular and still continues to sell, but it's a game that clearly had its day. The addition of the "Extreme" elements is not going to win over many new fans. And it's doubtful it will appease those looking to rekindle their romance with the original. Sometimes even a facelift can't help some games grow old gracefully.
CCC Senior Writer