Parents' Guide to

Stronghold Crusader II

By Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Historic strategy title has violent battle, few innovations.

Game Windows 2014
Stronghold Crusader II Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Castle & empire building followed by seige & foot soldier warfare

Common Sense is on target with their rating of the categories. One thing they missed is the prisoner torture (stocks, stretching rack, gibbet, ..., hanging, and beheading) involved in correcting/warning criminals as was consistent with the period. However, the big picture of the game involves empire building and property/resource management to enhance the capabilities of your castle for the end game element: battle. This game, one in a series of very similar medieval games from Firefly Studios, was released in the late 90s and the 3D animation is fair. Peasants must be given jobs to work for the betterment of the village and accomplishment of the players goals. There are two primary campaigns: The Path of Peace, and The Path of War in addition to a brief tutorial. There is an element of education revealing what life was like in those early days, the battles and seige machines will probably appeal to those interested in battles. Peasants can be hired to become Knights, Swordsmen, Pikeman, and many others. Players can design and build any shape and reasonable size of Castle across the sprawling landscape from stone or wood, two of many resources needing proper management. The game demonstrates happy peasants resulting from kind leadership while cruel leadership yields frightened and temperamental villagers. Each of the characters in the game deliver unique pre-recorded responses to the players interaction and fitting to the players leadership style. The inevitable violence may be particularly inappropriate for young players. While it is cartoon violence (including torture), it's probably on the level of the Itchy & Scratchy Show portrayed in the TV series, The Simpsons, minus the comedy. The game also includes recreations of historic castles and famous battles the player can reenact. Other titles in this series includes Stronghold, Stronghold Crusader, Stronghold 2, Stronghold Kingdoms, and Stronghold 3. While these games emphasize the value of respect toward your subjects, the prominent aspect of the violence in the game may leave some parents seeing the violence being the *only* part of the game.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Stronghold Crusader II has improved on the original with new enemy AI, making it much smarter in battle. It's also introduced new combat units and buildings. The game feels more intuitive, and the graphics, both from a distance and up close, are solid. The civilization-building elements remain strong, and some interface features that seem to have simplified the game really help when it comes to adjusting taxes and keeping people at your keep happy (which bolsters your forces and resources). The game guides you in this area, giving you a reasonable expectation of the consequences of your actions. Different maps are available, which in turn create different dynamics in the warfare.

Where Stronghold Crusader II falters is the core gameplay; this isn't a fresh take on the strategy genre. The interface is intuitive but doesn't really hold players accountable for micromanaging the keep once it's built. Plus, the game seems to have oversimplified the civic-planning elements to allow players to move into combat without consequences back home. This shift in focus toward combat and away from the civilization aspects weakens the gameplay that exemplifies strategy games. That could be the reason why the multiplayer community seems scarce -- we continually tried to play opponents but never found anyone online. Overall, Stronghold Crusaders II provides a good take on the RTS genre, and it's certainly worth a look for strategy fans, but its issues hold it back from being a great game.

Game Details

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