As Christmas is coming up, what better games to review other than those released for the holidays such as the torrent of AAA games in November. Unfortunately, being a student, I was too skint to even afford one of these games. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Stronghold 3, TESV: Skyrim; not a one could I get with the money I have. So, instead, I’m going to briefly review Stronghold 2, a game a few years old that is awesome in its own right; maybe its successor will be even grander! But, I wouldn’t know. Student.
Stronghold 2 is a medieval castle-building sim, with the chief goal of killing the enemy lord. The single player game is quite silly; a plot centred on restoring the monarch chased out of England, and you becoming the eventual Knight Champion of a Britain in the times of the Viking invasion. It’s a pretty standard RTS in the sense of gather resources, get soldiers, kill things, gather more resources, but it incredibly addicting to mix and match your forces to a particular army composition; building your walls so that they protect every last little bit, with an inner wall in case of a breach, and a backup of Swordsmen in case… yeah, you get the idea.
I was pretty addicted in my days, I’ll admit. The campaign is funny, interesting and actually damned difficult in places, taxing you to your utter limits as to where you should fire that oh so important catapult in campaign levels where you only get a fixed amount of troops.
Unfortunately, one you leave the main campaign there isn’t really much to do. The skirmish games are inherently flawed in that they assign arbitrary limits on your construction and recruitment which require levelling up. The enemies are on the same system, except they will next level up. They will continue to use the same preset troops and castle patterns that they’ve been coded to use, leaving the entire Skirmish AI appallingly predictable and utterly futile.
The multiplayer is quite laughable in its bug-riddled state; it’s impossible to play a LAN game for more than 10 minutes without a crash, and more far-reaching matches just fall short of the competitive quality that similar RTS games like Warcraft 3 provide.
This is a game that was great in its time, as well as bringing new things to the illustrious table of PC RTSs. However, despite the shiny new graphics over the first iteration and new things to play with (like torturing your villagers because you’re a sadistic person), the game leaves so much to desire. That’s why I can’t wait to actually afford the most recent addition and send endless Spearmen to their deaths.