Stronghold 2

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a game by Firefly Studios
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 3 reviews, 2 reviews are shown
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 4 votes
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See also: RTS Games

Fans of real-time-strategy (RTS) games were treated to a wonderful experience when the first Stronghold game released in 2001. Players would build their castles from the ground up, grow their armies, then lay siege to the enemies’ fort. It was a fresh take on the RTS genre that was near the end of its heyday. As more and more developers moved into 3D animation from the original 2D sprites, Firefly Studios figured it was time to take their beloved Stronghold game to the next level. In 2005, they released Stronghold 2 was released for the PC.

The Big Jump to Polygons

I would be amiss not to start with the most obvious change going into the official sequel: the change from 2D to 3D graphics. Notice I didn’t mention upgrade, but we can get to that later. At first, you’ll be excited to be completely immersed into your own castle experience. The camera moves in a complete 360 degrees around your buildings and castle, so you’ll have a much better view of your land than you ever did. The castles themselves look impressive, as well as is some of the detail in the buildings such as the estates. However, the color seems a bit bland. You could argue that this fits the era precisely, but in all honesty, it’s just plain dull.

Now if there’s anything Stronghold 2 does right in terms of graphics and audio, it’s the game’s music. Many of the original tracks were brought over from the first game, but you’re also treated to new tracks as well. They fit the medieval vibe of the game perfectly, helping add to the feel that you’re actually the lord of a castle.

Unfortunately, the sound design and voice acting aren’t quite up to par – especially the voice acting. While none of the game’s sound effects are impressive, the voice acting will at least be memorable, if all for the wrong reasons. It seems a bit over dramatic and, in some instances, a bit annoying. For a game that tries its hardest to immerse you in the world, the voice acting sure does its best to push you away.

Growing Pains

One of the major additions to the game is the number of buildings that can be created. Previous Stronghold games were a bit lacking in the variety of buildings you could build. New buildings such as the bed chambers, beehives, and vineyards all add to your society, thus helping your Stronghold grow.

Where Stronghold 2 really starts to show its growing pains is in the additional layers that were added to the game. You will now not only need to keep track of your food, weapons, and resources, but also your land’s happiness, crime, and cleanliness. These aren’t too difficult to learn and adjust to thanks to the plethora of buildings that were added to help with these. However, that brings me to the biggest issues of Stronghold 2: space.

Space in Stronghold 2 is very limited. Due the new layers in gameplay, you’ll find yourself micromanaging your land to fit everything in. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal if there wasn’t an enemy fort literally right down the cliffside. Keep in mind that this isn’t just an issue in the game’s campaign, but also in skirmish and multiplayer maps as well.

Sir, What End of The Spear Do I Use?

At the end of the day, most players are jumping into a Stronghold game to build an army a lay siege other castle. That was a strong point of the first game, and you would hope it would be continued here, but unfortunately, it falls a bit flat. The game’s AI is truly at fault here as they will have you pulling your hair out in some instances. Sometimes my units would simply abandon the instruction I gave and would wander away from battle.

On top of that, the pathfinding of your units can lead to a lot of frustration. Units will sometimes get stuck inside of buildings, causing it to glitch. That being said, you can use bugs and weaknesses in the AI to exploit it quite easily. For instance, the AI will always attack a wall in front before it moves to the next. That means you can simply build wood walls in front of your castle and watch as your archers pick apart the enemy trying to tear down the wood walls. If the AI were programmed to try and take out archers before a wall in certain circumstances, then this could be avoided.

5

When it comes to developing a sequel, it’s important to try and blend what worked in your previous games with something fresh. What worked for Stronghold 1 and its expansion Stronghold: Crusader were, for the most part, brought over to Stronghold 2. However, you may find this experience a bit different and too be honest – worse in some ways. Still, diehard fans of the RTS genre may find a game worth trying, if not just to build castles with friends virtually.

Pros:

  • Great music
  • Lots of content across the game modes (Campaign, Kingmaker, Multiplayer)
  • Addition of new buildings

Cons:

  • Graphics aren’t too detailed or colorful
  • Runs poorly during certain points
  • Added multiple new layers to increase complexity
  • Bad voice acting

Download Stronghold 2

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

The medieval period has captured the imagination of the gaming world since its inception. Stronghold 2 is a castle building strategy game that allows you to live the life of a feudal lord. At the beginning you’re given a choice between peace and war, and which you choose will decide what sort of game you play.

This decision is pretty much what it sounds like. If you choose peace, you’ll be faced with economic problems, such as reviving a neglected economy and trying to make it prosperous again. Choose the warpath, and you’ll be faced with war. Stronghold 2 is similar to Stronghold Crusader, but with more non-combat options.

Interesting game mechanics

Although Stronghold 2 features relatively simple AI that makes fighting against it predictable, it does have some fairly interesting game mechanics, especially on the “peace” side. Every once in a while, peasants will choose to drop the field they work in and turn to a life of crime instead. In order to fix the problem you’ll have to choose between lenient methods that take a long time, such as time in the stocks, or prompt but brutal methods, such as chopping their heads off.

In order to keep things running smoothly, you also need more than just the usual grain silos and armories. The game also requires you have some sort of poop control to keep things sanitary, and falconers to keep the rat population down. On the war side of things, the developers have added a few new options as well, including the ability to chuck rocks and burning logs off the walls. There’s also a generous number of new traps that can be used against the enemy, if needed.

Simple AI

A drawback to the game is that the AI is relatively unintelligent. If you attempt to fire a catapult somewhere out of range, the catapult does nothing at all, and has to be manually moved to become functional. Layers of wooden walls around the stone fortress can also easily fool the AI into attacking these instead of the stone walls, while making it impossible for enemy ladder men to continue.

This can make playing against the AI a little too easy, but the good news is there is a multiplayer option which pits you against other opponents. Experienced opponents are aware of the weaknesses the game has, and can often find ways to exploit them.

Some game play problems

The simple AI isn’t the only problem with the game players will face. There are also a few issues with game functions themselves. As an example, if you wish to stop production from a building, your only choices are to destroy the entire industry, or sell that particular building. There is no in between. There’s also no alert if a character in an important field goes bad, and if they’re not handled promptly it can cause your entire city to derail as more unhappy people refuse to work.

5

There are better castle building games out there, but there are also worse games. Crusader 2 has some interesting features that help make it a little bit different from other strategy games, but it also has some glitches. Whether you will enjoy this game depends mostly on what you are willing to compromise on.

Pros:

  • Generous game options
  • Engaging battles in multiplayer

Cons:

  • Cheesy graphics
  • Terrible audio and voice actors
  • Simple AI

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

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