Review by fjer
"Superbly Made Strategy; Still Fun Even After All These Years"
Stronghold is an RTS that continues to hold my interest despite being about five years old. It blends a good combat system with a detailed city management system and amazingly versatile castle building.
This game features a 2D graphics engine. While the graphics aren't impressive today, they were very good for their time. The 2D system looks very smooth and characters are well animated. You can see the body movements of people and see exactly what all the peasants are doing. The level of detail in other areas is very good as well; you can see the leaves blowing on trees, the flowing and rippling of the rivers and waterfalls, and even things like the arrows sticking out of a bloody corpse.
The only thing that kept sound from getting a 10 is the horrid villager voices, but you only hear that if you click on them. The voice acting for units is good, and the sound for things like fire and combat sound realistic. The game also has very good music that fits the medieval period well.
The gameplay is superb in this game. The balance between combat and economy and the balance within those areas is one of the best I've seen. For the economy you have to keep your peasants happy enough to stay in your castle (an empty castle is a lousy castle) and tax them just enough to make money. One of the greatest challenges of the economy is balancing weapons and strategic production and production for keeping peasants happy. You'll get your base economy running, but when you add more peasants for military production you suddenly find out you're now short on food! You fix this and suddenly your castle's being attacked!
When it comes to military strategy you have to work with balancing defense and offense, and the main part of this game: CASTLE DESIGN. The castle building in Stronghold is very detailed. There are three different wall types to choose from as well several towers, and tower defenses for unlimited possibilities. The placement of units on walls and towers, the locations of towers, and choosing how to place the many traps at your disposal are key to defensive strategy in this game. On the offensive you have to deal with avoiding these same things.
Stronghold features a well designed military and economic campaign, many maps for playing on, as well as an easy to use map editor and online play to keep the fun going for a very long time.
Overall: 8/10 Very Good
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/19/06
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