Many of us will remember the game Rampart many moons ago. I loved the aspect of building up a castle, then protecting it from bombardment. In 2001, Firefly Studios made a game called Stronghold which was a much more intense game, but still had the basic idea of building a castle and protecting it. Five additional titles and collections have come along, paving the road for the newest title, Stronghold Crusader: Extreme. Stronghold Crusader originally came out in 2002, so there have been a few years of gaming under the bridge, as it were. So, what is there to be extreme in a title that is six years old? I had a chance to see the game at Gamecock's EIEIO event before SXSW in Austin, TX. We also had a chance to look at Firefly's new work in progress Dungeon Hero, but we shall save that for the end.
Stronghold Crusader: Extreme has taken everything that made the first version popular as a RTS and added more depth with the use of armies and units to pit against your opponent's castles. Now, when I say they have added units, I don't mean that a small unit of six or seven guys can be built and then run across the screen. When I say units, I mean units, up to 10,000 to be more exact. Add in new maps and new tactics along with this ridiculous number of units and I do believe you have reached a level where you are welcome to call yourself extreme.
Coming soon in the spring of 2008, Stronghold Crusader: Extreme will come accompanied with the original title. So, now to get to the aforementioned Dungeon Hero which is in its early stages of alpha. Lose your preconceived notion of dungeons being these lifeless, arbitrary entities that exist solely for the reason of hiding and protecting treasure, and imagine them as living, breathing, ecosystems. Details are tight as this is very much a work in progress; they have shown early gameplay that presents an interesting and unique look on what a dungeon really is. We look forward to seeing these two titles from Gamecock Media and Firefly Studios as soon as they can get them out the door. Alas we shall obviously see Stronghold Crusader: Extreme before Dungeon Hero, but I can be patient.