Review by GMitchell

"Alarmingly detailed, surprisingly fun anyways"

After having played Warcraft II, Startcraft, Age of Empires II, Command and Conquer amongst other variants, Stronghold sets itself apart from other RTS's in both bad and good ways.

Most notably, Stronghold is all about DETAILS. You cannot (in most cases) simply build farms which will produce ''food'' and feed your army, for example. You can build a wheat farm, which produces wheat. Then, you must build a mill, to mill the wheat into flour. At this point, you must build a bakery, so that the flour can be baked into bread...and finally we have food. Same goes for many of the combat-related details - construction of walls highly depend on the player carefully watching land formations, viewing the construction from many angles, building staircases to access these walls, closing off the edges, making sure enough materials are present to enforce the walls....and on and on. But, before this sounds too awful - truth be told this is often considerable fun. Perhaps it's the feeling of accomplishment, perhaps it's some deranged enjoyment of manipulating minute details...but it really does wind up adding to the game rather than subtracting from it, for the most part.

Missions wise, Stronghold differentiates itself from its forbears by focusing the title suggests...the building of the castle and kingdom, rather than search-and-destroy. Most missions involve surviving attacks rather than executing them, and are actually quite enjoyable.
One learns the details of what makes a good castle construct in a mighty hurry, after a few freshman failures resulting in quick razings from the attackers.

Control is somewhat an arguable issue, and I would make the case that Stronghold has problems here. The usual technique of highlighting units and then right-clicking to tell them where to go has been banished, and now the left-click both selects units and commands their direction. In a nutshell, this doesn't work very well, as you'll wind up often ''selecting'' a unit or object (when you'd intended to tell your units to go to the spot the unit or object is located) and will have to re-select your previous group of units and re-try to get them to move.

All this being said, Stronghold is in the end a quite enjoyable game. It does require no small amount of patience and learning, but it was quite worth it to me in the end. I very much respect that the game focuses on details such as mentioned above, and that it does everything as slickly as it does.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 03/06/02, Updated 03/06/02

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