on September 21, 2011
Stronghold Collections gives you four different releases of Stronghold all in one for $20, which is an excellent deal. All versions are released by Firefly Studios and all are safe for tweens. Each version has both an economic campaign and a combat campaign. All are Real Time Strategy games, based around the concept of a strong medieval castle defense. In virtually every campaign combat mission you are either defending or besieging a castle, only rarely do you both start with your own castle.
The versions are all similar in that you have to gather resources, which you can use to build your defenses and also manufacture armaments to create more combat units. There is no fog of war, which I found refreshing and a good change from normal RTS fare, but some might find the ability to see everything on the entire map unnerving.
I advise avoiding the Steam compilation at any price.
There are some minor annoyances that exist in the entire series, such as the minimap being virtually useless, but, overall, the Stronghold series is a very good RTS with hundreds of hours of gameplay across four versions of the game.
On the other hand, there are some amazing positives that run throughout the series, like a very strong defense that does not need micromanaging while you concentrate on your attack. I could find no software bugs nor memory leaks in any of the versions, and the game ran perfectly, even on low-end machines and laptops. Path finding was mostly acceptable.
The modes of your soldiers - stand ground, defensive and aggressive, seem to work well. Most versions of the game seem to support a virtually unlimited number of soldiers, unlike an artificial population cap most games have. In one game I had over 1,000 troops! The physics realism are well thought out. Different units have vastly different capabilities and how you place them, what mode they're in and what you tell them to do is vital to success. In most RTS games it is nothing more than crank-them-out and send-them-in. If you do that here, you will suffer huge losses. This game requires strategy and it is very refreshing to see a Real Time Strategy game that actually requires strategy. You will feel like you're playing an old strategy board game, but in real time.
The original game. Graphics are old by today's standards and controls are simple, but still quite adequate - having zoom and fullscreen functions were real innovations when released. The AI does not cheat. There is multiplayer, but only player versus player.
The original continues to have the best combat campaign of the series. It is very well play tested and quite entertaining. Your King is abroad fighting a war, and four Lords have taken over England whilst he was away, killing your family in the process. You start with a rag-tag group, receive instructions from two members of royalty still loyal to the King, and slowly take back the nation. However, due to a patch that increased the firing distance of archers on towers, two of the siege scenarios are unwinnable without cheating - mission 18 and mission 21. To win them, download the mission saves from the Internet from versions before the patch. There is a good 80 hours of gameplay or more in this campaign.
Unfortunately, the original economic campaign is quite annoying. Every scenario is very tightly timed and you have absolutely no time except to meet the minimum requirements specified for victory. Wasting time or resources building, gathering or manufacturing anything except what you need for victory will often yield defeat. Playing the economics campaign is a rushed, frustrating and frenzied hassle.
This update to the original Stronghold is much like the original. Same graphics and controls, but adds some very interesting features. Fire being used as a major weapon and mercenaries being the two most significant. There is nothing like watching an entire enemy castle burn. Again, the AI plays fair. The setting of Crusader is, as you might expect, during the first Crusades. Therefore most scenarios are on a sand-filled map and farms can only be built near oasis. Firefly also added cooperative multiplayer against the AI to Crusader and it is great fun working with your buddies to keep the enemy at bay, then working together to storm their castle using multiple tactics.
The combat campaign in Crusader is much more difficult than the original and not as well tested. There are some balance issues. For example, the horseback archer is such a powerful unit that there is usually no reason to create anything else, and since it is a mercenary unit, it is easy to ignore almost all aspects of your economy except making money, and this detracts from the game. Further, the storyline leaves you completely dry and is forgettable - not compelling at all.
The economic campaign in Crusader suffers from all the problems of the original.
This is the first modern and major update to the Stronghold series. Graphics are up to modern standards as well as controls. Unfortunately, the makers also introduced the concept of a cheating computer. The AI cheats - it is given troops, resources and weapons at regular intervals. It is impossible to damage the AI's economy and win. It is impossible to wear him down over time because everything you destroyed will be instantly rebuilt when you come back again. The only way you can win is to completely annihilate him in one single battle. This, in my opinion, is a severe drawback to this update.
But, there are some good points. If your name is not too unusual, the game will verbally welcome you by name when you start the game. The number of things you can do and build is amazing, and the attention to detail is nothing less than jaw-dropping. Both Legends and "2" are built around the same engine and even share graphics settings. Unfortunately, Firefly somewhat weakened defense capabilities and increased offensive capabilities - this means that you have to pay close attention to your castle when under attack, micromanaging solutions. If you are attacking simultaneously, you often have to let your attack go unmanaged while working your defense, and this is a serious step back from the older versions, making the gameplay very similar to every other RTS out there.
This version of Stronghold adds many, many new features. So many, in fact, that single player scenarios and multiplayer games are virtually unplayable. There is some type of event every 30 seconds or so, like a criminal, fire, disease, gong, rats, sick cows, famine, etc, etc, etc. It just becomes a micromanagement nightmare. But the campaigns overcome this too-much-to-handle problem in interesting ways.
One new feature is breaking the playing map up into counties - some of which are territories originally not controlled by either side, but could be captured and used to increase the economy of your estate. You can build any building of any type in captured counties except defensive structures, basically running each county like your original. The inability to build new castles in the estates, however, is a serious drawback in the game and is an absolutely annoying artificial restriction. It forces you to micromanage defenses of your new estates rather than build them up.
There are many resources instead of just the usual wood, gold and stone. Most of the resources are things your citizens build themselves, so instead of just resource extraction your economy includes manufacturing, taxation and managing expansion estates
The life-like realism and attention to detail are astounding. The number of things to do are incredible. You can build a stage where travelling shows come to town. You can build a jousting arena where your knights fight for favor. If you zoom in on the King's chamber, the food server will place the food you created in front of the King and bow several times while backing away from the table, the King will even burp after eating. The King and "Lady in Waiting" will dance, with the Lady wearing new dresses from cloth you create from sheep farms and spinning houses. If you put too many hunter's houses near a herd of deer or a flock, they will hunt them to extinction, and the hunter has a dog to retrieve geese. Chickens scurry about trying to stay out from under foot and wheel. Babies are born, grow up to be children and run around playing.
The people can get sick, but you can build an apothecary to cure them. Rats spread disease, but you keep rats at bay with falcons. Buildings catch on fire, but... you get the idea.
The combat campaign overcomes the cheating flaw by heavily scripting events. The campaign starts well enough, but there are some scenarios that are virtually impossible to win. It turns out that the game was tweaked with a patch and changes were made that make playing the campaign nearly impossible to complete without downloading cheat files from before the patch. The storyline is good and about three-quarters of the way through you do get to select the "good" or "evil" paths for the last three scenarios. But gameplay is nowhere near as good as the original.
The economics campaign, on the other hand, is a delight and the best of the series. You play the entire campaign on a single map and everything you build carries over from scenario to scenario. Basically, you build up and slowly take over the entire map, one county at a time as each scenario is given to you. Make sure you save before exiting because the game does not save your place between scenarios. It is quite kewl to have a campaign where everything you did before you get to keep. In almost every other RTS, you start fresh on each scenario and have to do the same thing over and over again. One caveat, however, the very last economic scenario suddenly has you needing vast sums of goods for the King's kitchen, so when you take over a couple of county's with lots of free land in the middle of the campaign, build lots of kings kitchen farms and ponds. There are between 60 and 80 hours in the economic campaign and most scenarios are not timed so you can build a very powerful land!
Firefly, noting that players could not realistically play Stronghold 2 in multiplayer, released a stripped-down version while simultaneously attempting to create a StarCraft-like game with three different races. In all prior versions, all sides were the same. Unfortunately, Firefly failed miserably with this effort as the sides are very unbalanced. The evil side, with a couple of werewolves, can easily beat both other factions. The ice side can easily beat the human side. Further, the AI cheats exactly as badly as it did in Stronghold 2. Defenses against evil are severely crippled.
The one positive addition to Legends is that you can now set automatic buy and sell amounts at the Market. Some blogs post that the only reason to play Legends at all is so you can get those market controls.
The combat campaign is unbalanced. Several patches were released to fix bugs and that changed campaign play. Some scenarios are a cakewalk, others impossible. The hard campaign is relatively easy, while the easy and medium campaigns have stopping blocks.
The economics campaign is also uneven, having an unfinished feeling to it.
But, overall, the Stronghold series is well worth enjoying!
on April 29, 2012
The Stronghold series is, in a word incredible, but there are a few negetives. I'm a HUGE fan of RTS (real time stratagey) games like this. It all started when I got Age of Mythology at a elementary school a few years ago (I am only 13)then I got Age of Empires Gold Edtion (Age of Empires, Age of Empires The Rome Expansion, Age of Empires II the Age of Kings & Age of Empires II the Conquers Expasion)and then I got this. This game trumps ALL OTHER GAMES I HAVE!! (don't get me wrong I still love the Age of Empires series.) Ok so enough about Age of Empires, lets talk about Stronghold. I am going to give you some info about each gam in the series ( except Stronghold III since I don't have it yet.)
This is the first game in te series, as you might have noticed. This is the game that started it all. There are 2 campaings to chose from, Military or Economic.I perfer the Military campaign for 2 reasons, 1. Its the main campaign, 2. I am better at military stuff like that. The story is that you are in England (naturally) and there are 4 lords that are in control, (you will find out these guys real names in the campaign) the Rat, the Snake, the Pig, and the Wolf. And you must wipe them all out & at the same time keep a strong hold (no pun intended) on your counties.
This is a guide to all the troops you will be useing in the games.
Archer: standard long-range troops, pretty good versus spearmen, other archers, some siege engines, monks, and ok against macemen. Don't use archers against pikemen, swordsmen, and espicially knights. Do not, I repeat DO NOT use archers against knights unles you have A TON of them. I would recomend putting them on towers with braziers to light pitch diches and fore fameing arrows at seige engines. But if you are storming a castle I wuld suggest getting a large force of archers and useing them to kill the defenders on the walls or useing the them to kill civilians during a raid.
Spearmen: Pretty useless, but you can use them to fill a moat or find traps if you want, but I wouldn't suggest useing them to storm the enefy's castle if you have other units availible. What usually do is produce spears and sell them for profit.
Crossbomen: Better than archers and still serve the same prupose with more armor and attack but less speed and range good for killig armored units like knights.
Macemen: A BIG improvement over the spearman, combines a good amount of armor and attack with great speed to match but a big weakness to missle attacks. Still not as strong as the swordsman though.
Pikeman: EXTREMELY tough to kill slower but stronger than the maceman.
Swordsman: AWSOME to say the least. They are slower than the maceman but a LOT tougher to kill and devestateing in combat.
Knight: A mounted swordsman.