Swords and Sandals: Crusader
The Swords and Sandals series has a pretty long history of providing the players with humorous, yet complex strategy games involving turn-based combat and a lot of abilities that can be unlocked as you gain levels and advance through the campaign. Even if the background story is not that solid, the games are very fun and they do pose you with a few challenges along the way.
Build an army and conquer the lands
Unlike in the previous titles, Swords and Sandals: Crusader does not deal with gladiators anymore and you also get the opportunity to control more than one unit at a time. In fact, you can now build entire armies and lead them on the battlefield, where they get to face against the other heroes that fight to gain territory and expand their own kingdom.
Although you start off with a small piece of land and a castle, over the course of the campaign you get to conquer much more than that, as well as search for treasure and buy more powerful unit types. The territories you conquer increase your gold income per turn, but they are also susceptible to being conquered by the enemy, unless you station some troops as a garrison.
Interesting battles, but crude mechanics
Beside the fact that the AI always makes the worst possible decisions out on the map, he is not much of a tactical thinker in battle either, since he always trains very few troops. On the other hand, the combat system is pretty rewarding, but the animations are still rather unfinished and lazy, which kind of takes away from the atmosphere. They do get pretty exciting in later stages, though, when you forget all about graphics and concentrate on taking advantage of your late-tier units.
Last, but not least, the humor that characterizes the series makes a comeback in this episode as well, since the dialog is always riddled with puns and you stumble into a lot of interesting situations as you play along. Moreover, these amusing events can happen randomly as well, in the form of messages received while you are simply walking around on the map.
Lighthearted strategy to pass the time
In the end, Swords and Sandals: Crusader may not feature advanced tactical or strategic options, but it does allow you to choose how to spend your character's experience points and increase various attributes that give you the upper hand in battle, which can prove to be just as useful.